David is the greatest King of Israel, who ruled from c. 1010 BC to c. 970 BC. He was the second king of Israel after Saul. Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, was not succeeded by his son, but by David, of the tribe of Judah. This is an important observation to make because royalty should follow family lineage. What happened that changed the succession from Benjamin to Judah? The single most important event described in the bible is the giant slaying story of David killing Goliath.
The common version of the story seems to say that a giant challenges Israel for 40 days for a single combat, but no one takes it up, and finally David the small boy hurls his sling at the giant hitting him fatally, which event earns David the role of King. The story of David and Goliath has entered into modern language as the quintessential underdog story, of person or a corporation that wins over bigger opponents. The story is the subject of many books and famous paintings. Michael Angelo has painted the famous picture below. A recent book by Malcolm Gladwell draws business and self improvement lessons from the story.
What I am about to say in this post is about David’s strategy of defeating the giant in ten seconds or less. I am borrowing the 10 second idea from 100 meter sprint event where the current world record is just under 10 seconds. Jamaican Usain Bolt holds the record.
I am going to say that David was a sprinter like Usain Bolt! That is the reason for my title – 10 seconds to stardom!
1 Samuel 17.39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
The take-home point here, I think, is David’s spiritual, political and tactical correctness right from the above loud boasting through to the actual slaying.
First, David boasts his faith in God loudly that the ‘uncircumcised’ Philistine will not get away, showing his inner faith.
He is actually also making a political statement to serve as a warning to all ‘uncircumcised’ enemies of Israel that their fate would be just the same – nobody is going to get away insulting the living God. And finally,
David’s wisdom in planning and executing the act was superb, drawing on his superior skills of marksmanship and speed over his enemy’s muscles, and deceiving the enemy. In deception, David was a step ahead of the principle quoted in the ‘Art of War,’ a treatise composed much later around 6th century BC by Sun Tsu in China. ‘Art of War’ speaks of deception in war thus, “A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.”