Posted: January 30, 2016 in When the Wolf Howls
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Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 45

“He seemed so careless.” Jesse’s three oldest sons had gone with Saul to the war. Shimeah and Eliab were recalling to Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, the sense of excitement and fear as they had set out. Shimeah said, “As the youngest son, David’s main responsibility was to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem but our father was always anxious to know how we were, so he had David visit us from time to time with rations.”

Eliab took up the story, “Then one particular day David arrived at just the wrong time. He reached the camp just as we were going out to our battle positions, shouting the war cry. All our forces in Israel and the enemy’s forces had drawn up the battle formations facing each other.

We were looking down at the Philistines from the safety of a hill. David ran right up to the battle lines to greet us without any regard for the battle that was about to take place. He was either brave or ignorant of what was happening,” said Eliab.

So irresponsible, thought Shimeah. “Neither of us thought it was being brave. I told him ‘Get back out of the danger area!’”

“That’s when Goliath appeared. The Philistine champion from Gath stepped out from his lines and shouted out a defiant challenge that David heard.”

Although they were on a hill looking into the valley, the Israelites were pulling away from this man and there was a general sense of fear in the ranks. “I grabbed David and pulled him back.” Didn’t he see the size of that man? Why didn’t he run like I told him to?

“David just looked at Goliath and said ‘Why isn’t someone taking up his challenge?’ I told him ‘Someone will have to eventually. Do you remember that the king had promised great wealth to the man who killed him.”

Eliab said, “Yes, I remember. Saul promised his daughter in marriage and to exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel, but I must admit, I thought you would have to be half-mad to fight that giant of a man.”

Shimeah said, “That didn’t stop David. He was outraged that no-one had taken up the challenge. He even challenged me to fight Goliath. He was saying ‘What are you waiting for? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’”

“So heroic,” said Eliab. So conceited, thought Shimeah. It was embarrassing.

“You didn’t think that he was so heroic then.”

“No, I didn’t. I thought he was conceited. I regret that now. When I heard him speaking with the men, I said, ‘Why have you come down here? Who’s looking after our sheep in the desert?’”

Shimeah laughed. “A shepherd boy giving us orders.”

“That just made him even more annoyed and determined.” Like Shimeah, Eliab had noticed the change in David since Samuel had anointed him with oil. “I said, ‘Don’t start showing your indignation to us. I know how conceited you are. The fact that you’re here shows how wicked your heart is; you came down here so you could watch the battle. Now go home where you belong and watch the sheep instead!’But he wasn’t at all discouraged by this. He just kept on urging other men to fight this Philistine.”

“When one of the commanders heard what David was saying, he took him aside and both of us decided to let our little brother receive the reprimand he deserved.” Shimeah thought, We left him without support. I thought that would be the end.

Jonadab was on the edge of his seat, not saying a word. The rest of the story was burned into their memories. Shimeah said “The next minute, to both our horror, David was running down into the valley by himself. I called to him to come back but one of the commanders ordered me to be quiet. He told me, ‘He has the authority of king Saul himself to go.’”

Shimeah sat, words flashing through his memory, “I said, ‘But he has no armour, just a staff in his hand!’ He said ‘Saul had offered him armour and he refused to wear it.’” David, what were you thinking?

Eliab broke in, “I saw David choosing stones from the stream, placing them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approaching the Philistine.”

Shimeah had been too shocked to move or speak. “It was so silent in that moment. No-one moved.”

Goliath’s eyes were hungry and Shimeah and Eliab, standing near king Saul, would never forget the next few moments.


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