David and Goliath
David put on his cotton tunic and leather sandals as he left his tent. It was early morning. He grabbed his aba or camel hair blanket and wrapped it around his shoulders. It would keep the chill off him until the sun was higher in the sky.
David picked up the leather bag his mother had filled with bread, cheese and olives that he would eat throughout the day. He tied the bag, called a scrip, shut. David grabbed his shepherd's staff. He ran out to relieve his brother who had guarded the flock as he had slept through the night. He had a long walk ahead of him, and the bleating of the sheep and the lambs told him he had better hurry.
David was the youngest of Jesse's eight sons. It was his job to herd the sheep out to the pastures every day. He had to watch them all day and bring them home safely at night. The job always fell to the youngest son as soon as he grew to the age where he could be trusted. The other brothers usually got up at the same time, but they went to help their father, Jesse, plow and plant and tend the crops. Right now, his three oldest brothers were off in the service of King Saul's army.
David didn't have much time to think about his brothers. The sheep were trying to hurry him along. The best grass and pasture land was close to a bubbling steam, a long walk from his house. It was a fast walk, though since the sheep were always hungry in the morning. They practically ran all the way to the pastures and the small stream beside it. David had to stay alert in case one of the animals wandered off from the rest of the flock.
In the morning the sheep were the most active after their night's rest. They ran ahead of him to the pasture to eat their fill. David liked this time of year when the stream still ran with water. Watering the sheep was easier when he did not have to search out a well and water them. He liked to wade into the cool water with them and let the stream wash the dust from his feet and sandals. He stood upstream where the sheep had not walked and filled a goatskin with clean water.
He kept a keen eye on the sheep who were not known for being very bright. Sometimes, a lamb would walk into the stream to get a drink and get stuck there. David was a good shepherd. He had never let a lamb in his care get hurt.
David was thankful for the water. He knew the water was one of the many gifts that God had given to him and to his people. As the sheep drank their fill, David reached his hand into the cool waters and search for smooth round stones that had been polished smooth as they were carried along by the waters of the stream. He put the stones into his scrip along with his meal.
When he was little, his older brothers taught him to throw stones and hit the dirt in front of a sheep that didn't want to come back with the other sheep. The cloud of dust in front of the animal would startle it and cause it to come running back to the rest of the herd.
As David grew older and started having to watch the sheep without the help of his brothers, he was given a sling to use. The sling was made from two ropelike pieces of leather sinew that were tied to a soft square of leather.
It was his oldest brother who showed David how to take a smooth rock from river's edge and put it into the center of the leather square. David learned how to whirl the sling around and around his head and how to release one of the straps just in the right way to send a stone flying farther than he could ever do it by hand.
Stone in the square, start it swinging. Then around and around and around and around - then flip - Whap! David would hit his target. So it was that every morning, David would pick out the roundest and smoothest stones that he could find to use in his sling.
His brothers had told him about some of the Benjamite sling bearers that threw stones that were larger than a man's fist when in battle. For this reason, David carried small stones to use for target practice and to guide the sheep and larger ones to protect himself and the sheep from wild beasts.
The sheep would graze and eat the sweet grass throughout the morning and settle down and get a bit sleepy during the hottest part of the afternoon. It would have been easy for David to have counted sheep and fallen asleep. But his family depended on him to be alert and protect the sheep. So to stay awake and keep from becoming bored, David brought his musical instrument to the pasture with him. It was a stringed instrument, called a lyre, L-Y-R-E.
That's pronounced Lyre. Some of you are probably thinking of another kind of liar. The other kind means fibber, like when some people tell fibs about doing big important things that they really haven't done. But David didn't need to fib. He did great things for real.
David's lyre was small compared to large harps, but David was skilled at making beautiful music come from the sound box at the base of the instrument. No lieing, his lyre sounded like a harp as he sat under the shade of a tree and played away.
"Little David, he played on his harp, ooh!"
One day as he played, along came a bear. The bear came closer to the sheep, and they cried out for help. "Baa - Baa."
Most boys who saw a bear would have turned and ran, but not David. He had been taught by his father that the Lord of Israel was strong and would protect him if he called upon Him.
David prayed hard as he slowly laid down the lyre. With one hand, David reached for his sling. With the other, he reached into his pouch until his fingers found one of the stones he had picked up from the river that morning.
He put the stone into the leather square in the sling. Then, he began to whirl it around his head. Around and around and around and around - then FLIP, Whack!
The stone hit the bear in the temple, killing him. Then, when David saw the sheep were safe, Well, "Little David, he played on his harp! Ooh!" He sang songs and wrote verses about how God was great.
Yet another day, as David sat under the shade of a tree AND - "Little David, he played on his harp! Ooh!" When along came a lion. The lion came closer to the sheep, and they cried out for help. "Baa - Baa.". The lion grabbed a sheep in its mouth.
Most boys who saw a lion would have turned and ran, but not David. He had been taught by his father, Jesse, that the Lord God of Israel was strong and would protect him if he called upon the Lord.
David prayed hard as he slowly laid down the lyre. With one hand, David reached for his sling. With the other, he reached into his pouch where his fingers found another stone he had picked up from the river.
He put the stone into the leather square in the sling. Then, he began to whirl it around his head. Around and around and around and around - then FLIP, Whack! The rock hit the lion, causing it to drop the sheep from its mouth. Then the lion turned on David. David grabbed the lion by the hair and used another rock in his hand to kill it.
The stone hit the lion between the eyes and killed it. Then, when David saw the sheep were safe, Well, "Little David, he played on his harp! Ooh!" That day, he sang more songs and wrote more verses about how great God was.
One evening, when Davis returned from the fields, he saw his father busy packing food. "You are to take this food to your brothers who serve with King Saul. They are at the front lines. The news I hear is not good. I want you to give them my love and remind them that the Lord is their strength."
Jesse knew it was dangerous to send David to where the fighting was. But, if he sent one of his other sons, there was a good chance the son would be forced to join the rest of Saul's army and face the possibility of being killed along with the older three brothers. David was too young to be drafted into the army young to fight - so it was best to send him.
The idea of going to the front filled David with excitement. The prospect of seeing two huge armies at war with one another was something every young boy would be excited about. He left his father as soon as he could the next morning after leaving the flock with another shepherd.
He carried the large bundle filled with grain, loaves and cheeses in pouches that hung down both of his sides. He seemed to be the only one going toward the Valley of Elah where to the two armies were camped. Everyone else he saw was going the other way.
"Not enough weapons," one man answered when asked about the army of Israel. "Our soldiers do not have enough good weapons. Many of our soldiers are farmers who are armed with only their pitchforks and their scythes that they use for cutting grain. The Philistines have weapons made of is harder than anything we have."
Most people hurried on their way - some shouting something that sounded like "Goliath is coming."
David learned in a hurry who Goliath was when he got to the encampment. He learned from the soldiers that both sides had been camped for forty days. Each army camped at the top on other side of the valley. Both sides knew that whoever attacked first would be at a disadvantage and that the other army would run down on them. So both sides waited for the other to move. Each day as they waited, a giant of a man, named Goliath came down to the Philistine side of the valley.
Goliath stood over 9 feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet on head and scale armor weighed over five thousand shekels. That was 125 pounds. The iron point on his spear six hundred shekels. He had a javelin for throwing hung from his back. A shield bearer stood close by in front of Goliath, carrying his heavy shield to use in case someone answered his challenge.
"Why do you line up for battle and still not come forth to fight?" Goliath roared. "Saul, choose a man from among you to fight me. If he is able to kill me, we will become your servants. But, if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us."
"I defy the people of Israel. Send me someone to fight!"
Saul offered a reward to the man who could kill Goliath. That man will be rewarded with wealth and the king's daughter in marriage and pay NO taxes for the rest of his life.
David heard the war cry of the Phillistines after Goliath made his insults and felt ashamed. "Why?" he asked the soldiers. "Why does someone not answer his challenge," asked David. "Is everyone afraid of this man who insults the people of the God of Israel."
"You had best not let your brother hear that," said a soldier, who saw David's oldest brother, Eliab coming towards them.
"What are you doing here?" demanded his brother. Why did you leave the sheep with someone to come here? You wanted to see the battle, didn't you?"
David didn't even answer him. Instead he turned and talked to other soldiers about wanting to fight Goliath himself. David was taken directly to Saul. When questioned by Saul, David replied, "Every day I watch over my father's flocks. When a lion or a bear tried to carry off a sheep from the flock, I went after them and killed them. The Lord who protected me from those wild beasts will protect me from this beast who challenges the armies of the living God."
Saul had his servants dress David in his own armor. But, David could hardly move with all the weight on his body. "I cannot fight in armor I am not used to," David told Saul. "God will protect me if I fight Goliath like I fought the bear and the lion." At this, David picked up five smooth stones from the stream and prayed to God for strength to defeat this giant.
After 40 days of insults. Goliath finally saw someone coming forth to answer his challenge. The armies of both sides rose to their feet to witness the event when they heard Goliath roar, "Am I a dog that you send a boy to fight me?" Then Goliath cursed at the God of Israel. "I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field."
David said, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin, But, I come to you in the name of the one true Lord Almighty, the God of the Armies of Israel. This day, the Lord will help me strike you down and cut of our head."
Both armies heard as David continued, "Today, I will give the dead bodies of the Phillistine army to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. The whole world will hear about the power of the God of Israel."
Goliath was furious at the taunting of a boy. He moved closer to attack him. David ran forward to meet Goliath. He reached into his pouch as he ran. There was no olive or cheese to pull out - just a hard, heavy, round stone. He placed the stone into the leather square of his sling as he ran.
Then - around and around and around and arounds and Flip! Whack! The stone hit Goliath on a place in his head that was not protected by the bronze helmet. The giant stopped in his tracks as if amazed that something could touch him. The stone had sunk into the forehead of the Giant. His eyes rolled back into his head - so that only the whites could be seen, then he dropped to his knees and fell forward face down on the ground.
David ran forward and took Goliath's own sword and cut off the giant's head.
The Philistines had heard the threats to kill Goliath but the knew it would never happen. Yet - there was Goliath headless on the round before them. They also heard the threats to kill them. Suddenly, terror stuck their ranks, and they turned as one and began to run - most dropping their weapons and armor behind them.
The army of Israel shouted a loud cheer and began to run into the valley and up the other side in chase of the Phillistines.
The people of God had won the day with the help of a shepherd boy, named David. And when everything was done - David went back home and, "Little David, He Played on His Harp... Ooh!"
Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to Mike@mikelockett.com in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at www.mikelockett.com