I love Malcolm Gladwell! The brother is absolutely brilliant! His books are literary halogen lamps of great enlightenment. Best of the pack for me is “Outliers” (it was the best book I read in 2011 and one of my best ever), followed by “What the Dog saw”. Outliers was so good I breathed down my wife’s neck until she read it. The book in turn created some poignant moments for her, after which she became an avid collector of the author’s books. Now, Mr. Gladwell’s paperbacks shine radiantly like stars in the constellation of my library. My friends say that by default I have a tendency to frolic into the land of hyperbole and at the risk of proving them right, I dare say Mr. Gladwell is one of the best minds of this generation. He has a lively way of thinking outside the box. His intellect works in an unusual way that is quite refreshing. His natural inclination tends to see the sublime in the mundane and his capacity for research and analysis is out of this world. I doff my hat to you Sir!
I am currently reading his latest book, David and Goliath (wonderful book) but (wonder of wonders) there are some things in the book I find contentious. Mr. Gladwell’s conjectures are an army of well marshaled points. His observations are so finely researched and loaded with professional opinions that looking for any misplaced statement would be like looking for a chink in Goliath’s armour. His writings are such gigantic intellectual essays that going against his theories would be akin to David affronting Goliath. However, that is what I am about to do. With five stones from the brook of revelation I will be attacking his well shod facts. Malcolm Gladwell said David was not an underdog and that Goliath must have been suffering from some hormonal issues that made his eyesight poor thereby giving the shepherd boy an advantage. He also insinuated that David won because he was quite adept at using the sling and Goliath was slow of movement. He suggested that speed, skill, manoeuvrability and the ballistic power of the sling won the day. I beg to differ. Please bear in mind that I am not trying to run skill down here. Skill is essentially a huge factor in the success of human development and the bible is strewn with men that God used who were quite skilful. Joseph had an uncanny gift of administration, Peter was a human heron, fishing was in his blood, Jacob was a great entrepreneur, Jesus was such a great orator that some soldiers who were sent to capture him at a certain time came back to the authorities saying they had never heard a man speak the way He did. The scriptures said God gave the four Hebrew children (Daniel and his pals) knowledge and skills in all learning and wisdom. It would be good to bear in mind though that these men’s skills were backed by a supernatural power that operates beyond the confines of the human mind.
STONE NUMBER ONE…THE WAR WAS NOT A PHYSICAL ONE. It was spiritual!! It was a confrontation of deities. Malcolm Gladwell said Goliath must have been weighed down by his armour. It would be good to note that this guy was a Philistine champion and had been a soldier since his youth as the scriptures recorded. He must have been used to wearing all that amount of heavy armour. They must have felt like pajamas on him. In our day, SAS soldiers are trained to carry pounds of war equipments over long distances easily. This is not a feat that ordinary men can perform. The armour that Saul wore so easily could not be managed by David because the boy was not used to them. Furthermore if Goliath had that many physical disadvantages, he would not be a champion because someone else would have taken him out long before David did. Before someone is defined as a champion on whom the victory of a whole nation lies, he must have really proven himself over time. It was written that Goliath cursed David by his gods. How many times do we read about someone cursing a foe by his god on a battle field? When the Philistine saw the Jew there was something about that ruddy boy that agitated his spirit and made him know the battle he was getting into was beyond human. That made him bring his god into it. Goliath never mentioned his god throughout the forty days he was harassing the Israelites until he saw David. David’s riposte was in the same vein. He said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. David did not say that the colossal soldier was defying the armies of Saul but the armies of God. He caught on to a revelation that was years ahead of him that our battle is not against flesh and blood. The confrontation was beyond the physical plane. They met themselves on a higher spiritual level where principalities and powers cavorted. David must have seen the spiritual forces whirling around the heathen like a dark cloud and proclaimed that the battle belonged to the Lord.
STONE NUMBER TWO… IT WAS A WAR OF COVENANTS The shepherd boy knew about covenant, he was aware he had been covenanted to Jehovah Sabaoth. Circumcision which was a culture of the Jews was a sign of being covenanted to God. Other heathen nations back in the day were not circumcised but their soldiers used to make covenant sacrifices to the gods they worshiped before a battle. Even though the Israelite soldiers were circumcised they did not live with the consciousness and revelatory wisdom of David. This was why the first thing David said when he saw Goliath was “who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Truth of the matter was the ruddy lad was an underdog (Mr. Gladwell said he was not) and must have known that after seeing how frightening the tormentor of Israel was. That is why he took the battle to a more level playing field. A field of covenant where he was not an underdog in any way (Malcolm Gladwell was right on this one). Goliath became the underdog (actually an “underbird” considering the way he died) because David was covenanted to a superior power!
STONE NUMBER THREE… IT WAS A WAR OF WORDS Before the battle commenced, the two opponents started hurling words at each other instead of getting on with the duel. I find that a bit strange. However, it should not be a surprise considering the import of words especially in the spiritual realm and the power of positive confession. The fighters were spiritually canny which shows in the way they used words as swords to fence, cut and thrust. Goliath spoke about 33 words, David about 139. It was not a surprise that the Hebrew boy won the war. Following the battle of words everything else was academic. Before Goliath died physically, David had outwitted him spiritually through his words.
STONE NUMBER FOUR… IT WAS NOT A WAR OF WEAPONS Mr. Gladwell stated the perceptions of a ballistics expert “Eitan Hirsh” who after some calculations talked about the ballistics potential of the sling and how its effect can be likened to that of a handgun. Eitan Hirsh surmised that it was that power that ruined the giant. However, the biblical story records that David said thus to the Philistine, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied”. The lad did not place any stock on human weapons and the sling was one. He was not the only one who could use slings but he had the prophetic insight to know that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (Goliath). There was a portion of Israel’s infantry that used slings. If it was about the potency of the sling, someone else should have risen to the herculean task. In the Living bible translation, David said God works without regard to human means. It was not about the projections of the trajectory of the ballistic projectile. It was about who was wielding it!
STONE NUMBER FIVE… DAVID WAS ANOINTED This might just be the most important fact. The anointing confers the presence of God on a man. It is that presence that makes all the difference. David had a deep comprehension of this. That is why after his sin of adultery and murder he pleaded heart-brokenly in Psalms 51 that God should not cast him away from His presence or remove the Holy Spirit from him. He knew without the presence, he would revert back to an ordinary crude shepherd boy. It was after he was anointed that his life changed. Nothing can withstand the presence of Jehovah God. When the ark of covenant was taken into Dagon’s (Dagon was Goliath’s god) temple, the statue of the Philistine deity broke into pieces without human interference. Goliath was always going to face abysmal defeat before that presence. In summary, the ancient battle between the champion and the shepherd was not a normal battle where one person used physical means to trump the other. It was a war between Yahweh and Dagon. It was a confrontation beyond the human sphere. It was God in all his majestic superiority showing up the frailties of a lesser god created by humans. It is good to know this because life is full of the Valleys of Elah (this was the name of the ground where David and Goliath locked horns). Goliaths frequently stare us in the face and try to terrorize life and joy out of us. Please do not ever get it twisted by thinking it is a fight you can win by how skilled and well prepared you are. The arms of flesh never prevail. The horses are prepared for battle but victory belongs to God. In 1st Samuel 16; 18, the attributes of David were listed. He was noted as a mighty valiant man and a man of war but the icing on the cake was that God was with him. That is actually the ultimate.
If you ever find yourself against an uncircumcised terrorist in the Valley of Elah, make sure you have the physical sling of your skill in your hand, the name of the Lord in your mouth, faith in your heart, the assurance of The Covenant and the presence of the Lord of hosts. Without this combination, you might as well be sunk…
With all due respect, Mr. Gladwell, you got it wrong…this one time… ..
SOME TRUST IN CHARIOTS AND SOME TRUST IN HORSES BUT WE WILL REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD. THEY ARE BROUGHT DOWN AND FALLEN BUT WE ARE RISEN AND STAND UPRIGHT… The story of David and Goliath is in 1st Samuel 17. ©
2014 Ekpo Ezechinyere
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