Previous Chapters: CreationThe FallThe FloodAbrahamThe Destruction of SodomAbraham and IsaacJacob and Esau. Moses is Called. The Ten Plagues. The Ten Commandments. Samson.


Generations passed under the leadership of judges, and though these judges reflected the gorgeous mosaic of the children of Israel, and though they commanded general respect, they did not unite the people. The Israelites were a spear without a head. Tribal loyalties and rivalries remained, and such feelings often contended with the common good. The Israelites therefore prayed for a true king to lead them. Yet there was also resistance to this idea. How could they serve both a king and their Lord? For the Israelites were still fixated on One True God, and thus remained blind to the diverse spirits around them. None of the other spirits were troubled by the thought of an Israelite king.

But in the end even the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was moved by their prayers, and so reluctantly he sent them a king called Saul, who was a full head taller than anyone else, and the Israelites rejoiced, for they had a king who was a full head full head taller than anyone else, and what more evidence did they require of God’s wisdom? And the Lord blessed Saul, and Saul reigned over Israel for forty-two years, and at no time during that reign was he less than a head taller than everyone else. At last, however, Saul began to look down his nose at the people, because he was a full head taller, and he did not follow the instructions God gave him to the letter, and so the blessing of the Lord departed Saul, and Saul grieved at its loss, and he fell into a foul mood, and nothing could lift his spirits until a boy came to his tent and played a lyre for him.

That boy’s name was David.

David was nowhere near as tall as Saul was, and sweetly featured, and given to mellow jazz improvisations on the lyre, and Saul’s troubles seem to melt into the background as he listened. But more and more he faltered under the weight of the crown. Meanwhile, from among the Philistines there emerged a giant of a man called Goliath who towered over Saul by more than Saul towered over the Israelites, and who wore a bronze helmet, and bronze armor, and bronze boots, and who was thus impervious to magnets. Led by Goliath, the Philistine army massed on a hillside and prepared for battle with the Israelites. And Goliath shouted at the Israelites, “Choose a man and have him come forward. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will be your subjects and serve you. But if I overcome him and kill him, you will be our subjects and serve us. This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other!”

Upon hearing the words of Goliath, Saul, being more than a full head shorter than the Philistine, was terrified, and the Israelites, being a full head shorter than Saul, were even more terrified.

Then the boy David asked came among the Israelite soldiers and asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the One True God?”

To which a nearby soldier answered, “I’m not going to circumcise him! You circumcise him!”

Then David went to Saul, the king of the Israelites, and said, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine. I will fight him.”

But Saul replied, “You cannot fight this man. You are a boy, and he is a mighty warrior and exceedingly tall.”

“Yes,” David said, “but I am circumcised, and he is not.”

“I don’t think a restraining order will help,” Saul said.

Then David said, “No, but I have kept my father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its jaws. When it turned on me, I grabbed it by the hairs, struck it again, and killed it.”

“Which hairs?” Saul asked.

“Whichever were within my grasp,” David said. “I have killed both lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has defied the armies of the One True God.”

Saul then said, “Be with God, and go for the short hairs.”

He dressed David in his own armor and helmet, but David could not move in these, so great was their weight, so he took them off. He carried into battle only his shepherd’s staff, his slingshot, and five smooth stones he gathered from a stream. As he drew near Goliath, the Philistine began to laugh. “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?”

And David shouted, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands!”

As Goliath closed in to attack him, David reached into his bag, snatched out a stone, slung it as hard as he could, and struck the Philistine in the forehead. Goliath fell face down on the ground, dead.

Then David rushed forward and stood over him. He took Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head. Before he could circumcise him, however, the Philistines saw that their hero was fallen, and they turned, and they ran.