David was merely a shepherd boy. One day he received a guest, the prophet Samuel. Much to his surprise, Samuel anointed David as the next king of Israel. The account of the event is captured in the book 1 of the Bible.
About 3000 years ago, the Philistines and the Israelites were enmeshed in a bitter conflict. To bring the Israelites to its knees, the king of Philistines brought the ultimate fighting machine Goliath, who stood as tall as 208cm, or according to another source, 298cm. So big and muscular were his hands that it seemed as if he could crush rocks with bare hands. In stark contrast, David had no physical attributes that suggested even a possibility of the two combatants to have an even fight, let alone winning it. Despite his physical disadvantages, David won the one-to-one battle against the 7-foot giant by only using a sling and a stone. As the bullet-like stone hit Goliath’s forehead and thus the giant fell on his face, David nimbly hauled Goliath’s enormous sword out of his leather sheath and swung it at the giant’s head. The heavy blade decapitated it. As David hoisted Goliath’s head up in the air, a roar erupted amongst the Israeli troops. Against all odds, David was victorious and became the new king of Israel.
The story provides a metaphor for various life teachings. It tells a story of an underdog who overcomes the unfavourable expectations of the many. It teaches a wisdom that even if we face a seemingly insurmountable adversity, there is always a way to overcome it, especially if we play to our own strengths.
Furthermore, there is a less known part of the story. As intimated above, the prophet Samuel visited a man named Jesse in Bethlehem after receiving a message from God that the next king of Israel was to be found there. When Samuel arrived at Jess’s house he learned that Jess had eight sons, with the youngest being a shepherd boy who was not even old enough to join the army. After seeing seven of David’s older brothers, however, Samuel anointed David as the next king, since God told Samuel not to look at the man’s physical appearance but his inner strength. Despite Samuel’s prophecy, no one in David’s family believed that David was going to be the next king, and David’s father Jesse was no exception.
A few years had passed since David was anointed. All David’s brothers were drafted into the army as the war between the Philistines and the Israelites became imminent, yet David was held back by his father to look after his sheep. Even in David’s mind a shadow of doubt started casting. Nevertheless, he kept the faith.
This can be interpreted in the following way. Even if one finds his or her life’s task, it often takes some time for it to be materialised. It requires patient faith. Also, during the process, one may face negative opinions and naysayers that try to undermine his or her faith, and, at times, the naysayers can be some of our closest people and loved ones, as they perhaps try to protect us from the embarrassment of failure.
On the battlefield, the king of Israel Saul asked soldiers to come forward if they are brave enough to face the mightiest warrior for the ultimate showdown, but all the Israelite soldiers were terrified. Bringing some food to his elder brothers thus being present there, David put himself forward. Saul reluctantly accepted David’s bravery, but deeply concerned because that bravery alone cannot win the battle. Thus, Saul offered David his armour and shields, but the shepherd refused. For a little boy to be at his best, he did not need anything to impede his mobility, but only a sling and a few stones with courage and faith in God.
The teaching of this story is that we have to think outside the box and do so in our authentic ways. We all have our own ways of dealing with challenges and fear, which David ultimately conquered. We should not try to be who we are not, even if it’s against the convention.
To find more about the story, please refer to the following references.
The Holy Bible. (1611). King James Version. The King James Version Bible (KJV)
Malcom, Gladwell. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Little, Brown and Company.
“David and Goliath” (2015) by Masaki Yada, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, Private Collection in London