Did David Cheat Goliath?

There I sat, somewhat mystified. While doing some research on the story of David and Goliath, I had been reading a blog about Goliath’s armor. The content was all well and good, but one of the comments captured my attention—and not in a good way. Basically, the commenter was claiming that the fight was unfair—to David’s advantage—because David broke the rules of military engagement by failing to declare his choice of weapons and by running toward the giant before he had the opportunity to refuse the fight. Wow! I would have never gotten that from reading the biblical account of the fight.

Through the course of the blog discussion, it became obvious that the person was antagonistic toward the Christian faith. In other words, the argument was based on personal ideology more than on a pursuit of truth. With enough effort, I suppose we can make just about any text fit our predetermined perspectives.

Did David cheat Goliath? If we read the story objectively, we can’t help but come to the traditional conclusion that a young shepherd boy overcame almost insurmountable odds by miraculously defeating a well-trained and well-armed monster of a man.

We live in a divided world, in large part because our opinions are driven by ideology rather than truth. In all honesty, I see both conservatives and liberals taking this unfortunate approach. We will never come to any type of meaningful consensus as long as our approach to life is simply about what we want to believe. As both a theological and social conservative, I have no problem saying that truth and contemporary conservative ideology don’t always converge.

On the surface, my perspective may sound as though it conflicts with a strong Christian belief system when in fact it actually supports a more devoted Christian lifestyle. The Bible teaches that Jesus came to earth “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus also proclaimed Himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If these statements are in fact true, a pursuit of truth will eventually lead us to a stronger faith in Christ.

Those who establish their economic, political, and religious stances solely on ideology will blind themselves to objective truth. The end result—even for conservatives—is that we are led away from God rather than toward Him. The same can be said for effective ministry. When sincere seekers of truth encounter only blind ideology, they can’t help but be repulsed.

Can we say, then, that having any type of ideology is problematic? Not necessarily. The real issue lies with our personal agendas. Those who really want something to be true will do all that they can to make it true regardless of the facts. This approach is opposite that of Jesus Christ.

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 5:30 (NASB)

The Son of Man had no pride, no greed, and no compulsion toward self-preservation. He sought not to oppress others, or to exalt Himself. Jesus had no fear of becoming a social outcast. All in all, there were no selfish motives to blind His eyes. Jesus was full of grace and truth because His agenda was not His own, but that of the heavenly Father’s.

Of course, we would do well to follow Christ’s example. I think that not only the church, but all of society would benefit if Christians laid aside their conservative and liberal ideologies in pursuit of God’s honest and objective truth. At the very least, we might all get along better.

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2 Responses

  1. Jason

    I’ve been giving the David and Goliath story some thought, and I do think it was a mismatch in David’s favor for a really obvious reason–David was fast; Goliath was slow. There’s no way a giant could out run a sling shot stone, if he could even see it coming. He was pretty much a sitting duck. When you consider that David was out protecting sheep from wolves, he’d have to be quick on the draw.

    The link I’ve included below is from a TED talk that explains this and goes even further. While, I think the Bible contains the Truth, sometimes in the Old Testament in particular, there are political, social, and moral truths afoot as well, even to the fudging of the hard facts of a story. At any rate, the link isn’t attacking religion in any way, but giving the story a medical perspective. It’s really interesting, and not very long.


  2. Bob

    Jason, I checked out the clip and found it interesting, but I don’t buy Malcolm’s explanation. He seemed to be well versed with the idea that slings were popular for ancient warfare, but he spoke as though it were some strange thing for Goliath to have an armor bearer. To me, this shows some type of bias. The Bible also speaks of the giants as being a race descended from the “sons of God” marrying the daughters of men. There’s no clear consensus on what that means, but it does leave Malcolm’s medical explanation as being highly speculative.

    As I read the text, I think that Goliath knew exactly what he was dealing with and shrugged David off as a woefully inferior foe. Is it possible that an ancient Jewish document would play up the role of one of their most celebrated heroes? Possibly. The problem with that perspective, however, is that the book of Samuel doesn’t seem to shy away from exposing David’s flaws as well–i.e. the story of Bathsheba and Uriah.

    To me, the bottom line of the story still stands. For any person on the ground, Goliath would have been an intimidating foe. And just because a sling can be accurate at long distances, doesn’t mean that it is always. If you add nerves, distance, and the small area of Goliath’s exposed forehead, this was still quite a feat. (Malcolm talked about a sling being accurate at 200 yards. I’ve known people who are excellent shots to miss deer at shorter distances with a high powered rifle!)

    Here is another clip that may interest you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELYea2UDfeY

    As always, I appreciate your thoughtful input!