WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS
© by Ross Cochrane
David doesn’t have a chance! Shimeah relived it again with Eliab.
Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, was spellbound by the story. “What did Goliath look like?”
“Goliath was a Philistine warrior, a giant of a man with skin the colour of sun-tanned leather and forearms the size of David’s waist. He wore armour over his huge frame and his voice boomed throughout the valley.”
With malevolent intent towards David, Goliaths words had trailed up the valley and echoed in Shimeah’s ears, “‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and animals!’” My stomach was in knots. Shimeah had seen some of the broken bodies that remained after hand to hand combat and against this experienced veteran of war.
“David’s voice was so clear and confident. But he seemed so naïve!”
“I remember. Almost arrogant,” said Eliab. “He said,‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’ The Philistines laughed at his audacity.”
Shimeah said “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. I turned to king Saul and said, ‘We have to stop him, sir! Can’t you command him to return?’ but he said, ‘I have no intention of interfering, nor will you.’ I couldn’t save him. I just had to watch.’” One of Saul’s guards had moved menacingly close to Shimeah. Why did I freeze up? I didn’t do anything. Only his eyes had revealed the desperate fear he had felt for David.
Shimeah and Eliab could see it all before them. Shimeah said, “As the Philistine moved closer, David ran quickly forward to meet his attack. He reached into his bag, took out a stone, and placed it in the cradle of his sling. In the same action, it was thrust into a swinging arc, centrifugal force stretching the leather slightly with the weight of the stone.”
After three sweeping turns, it had begun to sing in anticipation of release and David had snapped the sling in a deft movement that shot the stone from the arc of its swing in a deadly tangent towards Goliath. “It caught Goliath in the temple. It was a dull crack, like the sound of a sun-dried clay water pot being broken”. Goliath had swayed indecisively before his legs buckled. “He went down like a fallen tree.”
David is an expert marksman. “The stone sunk deep into Goliath’s forehead.” Goliath’s eyes had glared with unseeing astonishment. “His body convulsed for the last time.” The sling David had used was capable of letting a stone fly with incredible velocity and accuracy, though it had never before been used as a weapon of warfare.
“Did you see how he reached into his pouch again?” said Eliab, “He was even prepared to face Goliath’s armour bearers! But they were so shocked that they simply turned and ran for their lives.”
The whole Philistine army, seeing that David’s God had really done what He said He would do, also began to run, with superstitious fear flowing through their veins.
“David then ran, stood over Goliath’s huge frame, drew the enormous sword from the scabbard of this man and cut off his head. Goliath’s sword was so big that he had some difficulty in wielding it properly.”
The silence in Israel had exploded as every man in Israel came to life and surged forward with a shout to pursue the Philistines. “David was still holding the Philistine’s head as king Saul approached him.
‘Whose son are you, young man?’ he asked him.
David said, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’”
Shimeah and Eliab remembered these events so clearly. Shimeah looked at Jonadab “We brought home much plunder that day. That’s the same day that you were born.” Shimeah had called him Jonadab because his name meant The Lord is bountiful.
David had taken the weapons of Goliath and placed them in his tent. Shimeah said,“That sword was so masterfully made. Did you see it’s hilt? It had that unusual carving of a lion and a wolf in mortal combat with each other.”
“Yes, the workmanship was beautiful. The blade was iron of course, but it must have been tempered by an expert smith. I doubt if even Barzillai could have created something to match it.”
Now, years later, as Shimeah thought about Goliath and those weapons, he still felt a little resentful and jealous towards David. It seemed that Shimeah had been passed over while God had destined David for greatness.
Shimeah’s son, Jonadab, was now a young man, “But all that is a long time ago. And now, you mix with David’s sons in court.” Shimeah had taught him to be shrewd but some of his attitudes towards David had also been passed down. Never-the-less Jonadab had become good friends with Amnon, his cousin, one of David’s sons.
Perhaps it had something to do with the unresolved jealousy of Shimeah that Jonadab, his son, influenced the course of events of the kingdom and triggered the fulfilment of another part of Nathan’s prophecy to David.