The armies of King Saul were arrayed in battle against the Philistines, face to face across the Valley of Elah. From among the ranks of the Philistines came a great giant of a warrior, boldly daring anyone among the Israelites to meet him in single combat. This champion was so powerful and terrifying that none among Saul’s fighters were willing to do battle against him, even with the encouragement of a great reward from their king.
David, a teenager, was bringing food to his older brothers in King Saul’s armies. Hearing Goliath’s taunts, and seeing no-one take up the challenge, David agreed to fight. King Saul urged the young man to take his armor, but David declined, meeting the Philistine armed with only his slingshot and a bag of stones – the weapons he used for driving lions away from his sheep.
The rest, as they say, is history. The stone from David’s sling hit mighty Goliath in the forehead, toppling the giant to the ground. Then, seizing the Philistine’s own sword, David cut off Goliath’s head.
Kids seem to like this story a lot, and certainly the imagery has taken powerful hold in Western culture: the underdog, against all odds, takes down the giant enemy. It’s a metaphor that sees a lot of action. Do children like the story because they are small, the world is full of big and powerful forces, and this tells them they’ve got a fighting chance? I don’t know. Maybe.
As a parent, what I find most interesting about the story is David’s refusal of Saul’s armor and shield. If I were writing a sermon I’d point out that David said he fought in the name of God; but I’m not writing a sermon. Instead, I want to point out that David already had everything he needed to defeat Goliath – and more importantly, he knew it. He needed no borrowed weapon or protection, because he was already ready. This is, I think, a very powerful message for kids (and parents!). Every child has strengths and talents; as a parent, I need to find what strengths my child already has and support those strengths for her biggest challenges, not insist that instead she should have other strengths. I must not ask my daughter to wear someone else’s armor.
Click here how to tell a story, such as the David and Goliath story