David and Goliath, reconsidered

Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting take on the ancient story of David and Goliath.  It might cause you to look at this Old Testament classic in a whole new light.

They never taught it that way in Sunday school . . .



  1. "45mm handgun".

    Of course, one should assume that a man who'll fight lions and bears and win probably isn't going to have too many problems fighting mere men.

    Another, I think, of those 'bible stories' that EVERYONE knows but haven't actually read.

    Less of "weakling beating powerhouse" and more "man beating mighty enemy by coming at him from an unexpected direction."

    Though I don't buy the "deeply sick" bit towards the end.

    Living for the better part of a millennium isn't something modern medicine can understand either, and there's no way it's one of the things some people claim is metaphor; I can't think of any metaphor that would require a post-script saying "and by the way he lived for nine hundred years".

    Things change, and just-post-Eden Man, post-Flood Man and modern Man are all very different creatures; with every passing century, the things that shamble about wearing the cloak of humanity become less and less like God's prime creation.

    It certainly doesn't seem a great leap to assume that while men of today can't grow to mighty size without crippling health issues, men of three or more thousand years ago couldn't.

  2. *Misphrasing.

    "It certainly doesn't seem a great leap to assume that while men of today can't grow to mighty size without crippling health issues, men of three or more thousand years ago couldn't."
    should be
    "It certainly doesn't seem a great leap to assume that while men of today can't grow to mighty size without crippling health issues, that doesn't necessarily mean that men of three or more thousand years ago couldn't."

  3. Why is there such a desire to explain away Bible stories; to take away from the faith and works of God.

    Did the Israelis not have slingers in the army; probably they did. Yet David stepped forward.

    Did a giant like Goliath have the ability to throw a javelin accurately; oh yes. Yet David stepped forward.

    God prepared His tools in advance but it was David's faith in the Lord that was the crux of the issue.

    Bob S.

  4. This talk begs the following question:

    If the Philistines wanted to win, why would they send a person who they obviously knew was not the most effective fighter out to face the champion of an opposing army?

    If one attempts to avoid the question by proclaiming the importance of the "lesson" that Gladwell ends with, then one is left with the conclusion that either the story is fictional or dramatically revised to make that point.

  5. I agree with Bob S., above. Also, if the Israelites knew that David was an accomplished slinger, then why would they have been so horrified when he volunteered?

    God worked a miracle that day, and modern man just can't abide the thought that something happened which can't explained by our 'science'.

  6. So Goliath had a shield also, so projectile advantage negated.

    What's funny is that he thought he knew this story before, but then realized he was wrong. What makes him think he has it right now?

    Goofy dude. Psychological need to deny existence of divinity in a bible story? Why? Because all we need is to believe in ourselves? Secular prog wet dream. Good Luck with that. . .

  7. A shield would not be much of a defense against a sling unless one hides behind it. If you cover your face, you leave your legs vulnerable. At relatively close range, you cannot react fast enough to move a shield to cover yourself. From long distance, you'd better have eyes like Ted Williams to see that stone or shot coming. (Hint: you won't see it.) I knew this part of the story was odd from about age 11, when I first started reading about warfare in the Greco-Roman era, and realized that David had that big advantage of an accurate, deadly, stand-off weapon.

    I'm also skeptical about the giantism bit. Only if the Philistines believed that everyone would be so intimidated as to not call their bluff would they have put Goliath forth, and no one gets a rep as a mighty warrior without actual combat.

    Like many other "founding father" stories, this may have grown in the telling and re-telling.

  8. Proverbs 28:26, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. And if you don't believe in God you may have rocks in your head.

  9. If you would like to see the story of David and Goliath told from an Aussie viewpoint have a look on youtube for "David and Goliath – Col Stinger". Pastor Col tells the story in Aussie slang, the picture quality is pretty bad but the sound is OK and Col is a good story teller.

  10. Why explain Bible stories stories? Well, the more things you can explain, the more evidence you can offer for the Bible as being a historically accurate text, and that the rest of it "must" therefore be true. At least, I think that's the way some folk's thinking goes.
    Why seek technical explanations? Because humans are curious creatures, and explaining the mystical is comforting to many, myself included. It also deepens the mysteries about those things left unexplained.
    Why send Goliath? Locked into gen2 warfare thinking against a gen 3 opponent, so to speak. It's easy to fall into the trap of "I can't beat him, an nobody else around here can beat him (and we're all heavy infantry like him), and single combat challenges are normally assumed to be strongest "conventional" heroes facing off (skirmishers and missile men never got any respect, even the English after Agincourt were disdained by the French knights). They simply assumed that the Jewish opponent would be similarly heavy infantry. Grappling and sword-play against such an opponent can be difficult.
    Mistakes: it's unlikely his armor weighed a hundred pounds. Even the heaviest of Greek panoplies rarely weighed that much, and they were famous for wearing the heaviest armor in the ancient world.
    I'd rate his hypothesis as plausible, and as good as any other. Look up "Egil Skallagrimsson Paget's disease" for another ancient saga and excavation to explain it.

  11. 6'9'' isn't really that imposingly tall. The Israeli army back then weren't wimps (consider David's mighty 37); Goliath was so frighteningly tall that one should rely on the larger cubit units, meaning something around 13 feet tall. Now that is a scary man, especially if he is fully capable and not a cripple as the journalist proposes. Remember the Philistines were very confident they had an unbeatable champion. This also explains the massiveness of his weapons and armour. The journailist wants us to rely on ourselves, the opposite of David, and completely contrary to Scripture. Fail.

  12. Overthought. Just dumb, really. These peoples were neighbors, who had fought each other over and over. The great warriors would have been well known by each side. There is no way the Israelites could have been tricked into thinking Goliath was that strong if in fact he was a weakling.
    Second, the idea that the sling was some kind of super-weapon. If it really was that great, why were there any heavy infantry at all? Just imagine if this argument were correct. One hundred guys armed like Goliath show up, are immediately and safely destroyed by a squad of slingers standing off in the distance. But, how odd that ancient battles didn't actually go that way, those people must have been really stupid. David himself gave up the sling and adopted armor and sword when he got older. What an idiot….. Yes, slings can be deadly, but precise shots are hard to accomplish, and sling-stones just were not that effective against armored men. David got 'lucky' on his first shot.

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