Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible

The infants of Babylon and the Rock // Is it Christian, to accept ONLY what the Holy Bible says? // Is the Holy Bible the ONLY source of faith?

 

David, Goliath and the divinely-inspired sources of the Faith

How can we relate the familiar narration of David and Goliath with the Church's war against heresies, with the divinely-inspired sources of the Christian Faith?

 

1. Divinely-inspired scriptures with profound fore-portrayals

Who isn't familiar with the story of David and Goliath?  Who hasn't heard of the feat of minuscule David who struck dead the fearsome warrior and giant Goliath with a slingshot?  But how many of us have actually focused our attention on the details of this narration and looked for prophetic fore-portrayals of the present Christian era of "shadows of things to come, and not the image of things" ? (Hebr.10:1) Because, as we know, "whatever was written before time, was written before time for our edification, so that we might have hope, through patience and the consolation of the scriptures" (Rom.15:4).  And every Christian who studies the Holy Bible knows that everything that was written in there (and in every other divinely-inspired text) and beyond the simple stories narrated therein, also include higher levels of interpretation and fore-portrayals that are useful in every era and to every individual.  The divinely-inspired word of the Gospel, in all its expressions and forms, is multi-dimensional and is not confined to places and eras, but embraces all of humanity, every place and all of History - and even beyond History!  Thus, it is up to each faithful person to do his own research, according to his intentions, in order to discover and collect the treasures that lie hidden among the words.

Thus, it is our intention in the present article to seek out some of the treasures that are hidden inside the narration of David and Goliath - beyond the obvious, simplistically edifying character of the narration, such as: "do not underestimate your opponent", "physical strength isn't everything" and "the power of God is far stronger than every human power".  Behind all these obvious characteristics, the God of heaven has also hidden more composite meanings, in a place that can be discovered only by those who approach the Divine Word with respect, with love and with attention focused on the holy Fathers of the Faith, who, as road signs show us the way and decipher for us spiritual infants all those hidden meanings that are invisible to an inexperienced reader.  That is why I myself, while reading the work of Saint Athanasius of Paros on Saint Mark of Ephesus, became aware for the first time (thanks to the parallels provided by the saint) of far deeper fore-portrayals within this story which, although familiar from my infant years, I now wanted (as a spiritual infant who was so wonderstruck) to share with my brethren the joy of this discovery as disclosed to us by the saint's observations.

 

2. The story of David and Goliath

Let us begin by quoting the story of David and Goliath, rendered in simplified language, as described in 1 Kings 17:1-54 (according to the Septuagint) or 1 Samuel 17:1-54 (according to the Masoritic text):

 1Now the Philistines gathered together their armies for battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belonged to Judah, and they camped between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.  2And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and camped by the valley of Elah, and arrayed their forces against the Philistines.  3And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.

 4And there came out a strong man from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  5And he had a helmet upon his head, and he was armed with a vest of chainmail; and the weight of the vest was five thousand shekels of brass and iron.  6And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a shield of brass between his shoulders.  7And the shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and the tip of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one who carried his weapons walked ahead of him.

 8And he stood and shouted out to the ranks of Israel, and said to them, "Why have you come out to array yourselves for battle against us? Am I not a foreigner, and you the Hebrews of Saul?  Select a man from among you, and let him come down to me.  9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we shall be your slaves: but if I am able to kill him, then you shall be slaves to us and serve us."  10And the Philistine said, "Behold, I have mocked the ranks of Israel on this day; give me a man, and both of us shall fight."   11And Saul and all of Israel heard those words of the Philistine and they were taken aback, and were greatly afraid.  

12Said David (this was the son of an Ephrathite man:  he was of Bethlehem of Judah and his name is Jesse and he has eight sons: and the man in the days of Saul was elderly when he came among the men.  13And the three eldest sons of Jesse went forth and followed behind Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and the second one was Abinadab, and his third was Shammah.  14And he, David, was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.   15But David departed and returned from Saul to shepherd his father's sheep in Bethlehem.  16And the Philistine moved ahead, by day and by night, and posted himself for forty days.)

17And Jesse said to David, "You must take to your brothers an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp and give them to your brothers;  18And you will offer these ten soft cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and visit your your brothers in peace and find out whatever they might be in need of.  19Now Saul himself, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of oaks, fighting with the Philistines.  20And David rose up in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and departed and went forth as Jesse had instructed him; and he came to the circle of the ranks that were heading out to be arrayed and they were shouting out war cries.  21And Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.  22And David removed his pack and placed it into the hand of a keeper, and ran into the arrayed ranks, and came and questioned his brothers peacefully.

 23And as he was speaking to them, behold, there came up in their midst the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the ranks of the Philistines, and he spoke according to those words and David heard them.  24And all the men of Israel, upon seeing him, fled from his sight, and were terribly afraid.  25And a man of Israel said, "Did you see that this man who has risen up has risen up to mock Israel? And that if there is any man who can kill him, the king will bestow him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and will make his father's house free in Israel."

 26And David said to the men that were standing with him, saying, "If this will be done to the man who kills that foreigner, will he not also be taking away the derision from Israel? For, who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that dares to deride the ranks of the living God?"   27And the people answered him according to his words, saying, "So shall it be done to the man who kills him."

 28And Eliab his eldest brother heard him speak thus to the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, "Why did you come down here, and to whom have you left those little sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride, and the malice of your heart, for you came down here to see the battle."

 29And David said, "What did I do now? Did I not just utter words?"

 30And he turned from him toward another, and spoke after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.  31And when the words were heard which David had spoken, they announced them to Saul: and he called for him.

 32And David said to Saul, "Let not my Lord's heart coincide with his; your servant will go and fight with this foreigner."

 33And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for you are but a youth and he is a man of war from his youth."

 34And David said to Saul, "Your servant was a shepherd looking after his father's sheep, and whenever a lion and a bear would appear and snatch a lamb out of the flock, 35I would go out after them and kill them and snatch it out of their mouth; and if they revolted against me, I would grab them by the throat and beat them and kill them.  36 Your servant has fought against both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised foreigner is like one of  them: shall I not go and kill him, to take away the derision from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised one, who has derided the ranks of the living God?   37, The Lord who spared me from the clutches of the lion and the clutches of the bear will spare me from the clutches of this foreigner and uncircumcised one."  And Saul said to David, "Go forth, and may the Lord be with you.".

 38And Saul garbed David with a mantle and a helmet of brass on his head;  39 and he also girded David with a sword strapped over his mantle. But he became weary after striding once and twice wearing them, and David said to Saul: "I cannot walk in these, for I am not experienced." And they removed them from him. 

40And he took his staff in his hand, and chose for himself five smooth rocks out of the stream, and placed them in the shepherd's pouch which served him for collecting things, and his slingshot was in his hand: and he drew near to the foreign man. 

 41And the Philistine came forth and drew near to David; and the man who carried the shield went before him, and the foreigner looked around..  42And Goliath saw David and derided him for being a youth, and ruddy, and with a handsome appearance.

 43And the Philistine said to David, "Am I like a dog, that you come against me with sticks and rocks?" And David said "No, you are something worse than a dog." And the Philistine cursed David with his gods.  44And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth."

 45Then said David to the Philistine, "You have come to me with a sword, a spear and a shield: but I come to you in the name of the Lord God Shabuoth of the hosts of Israel, whom you have derided on this day.  46And the Lord will confine you on this day, by my hand; and I will kill you and remove your head from you and I will give your carcass and the carcasses of the host of the Philistines on this day to the fowls of the air and the wild beasts of the earth; and all the world shall know that God is among Israel. 47And all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's, and it is He who will deliver you into our hands."  48And the Philistine rose up and moved closer to meet David.

 49And David reached out his hand to his pouch, and took one rock  from within it and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead, and the rock  sank through his helmet into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the ground.  50Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with the slingshot and the rock, striking the Philistine and killing him, but there was no sword in the hand of David.  51Therefore David went and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and slayed him, cutting off his head. And the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, and they fled.

 52And the men of Israel and of Judah rose up, and with their war cries they pursued the Philistines until they reached the entrance of Gath, and to the gates of Ashkelon. 53And the men of Israel turned back after chasing away the Philistines, and they trampled on their camps.  54And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem, but he placed his armor in his own camp.

 

3. The prophetic fore-portrayals in the narration

It is now time to "read behind the words" and draw from this "Jacob's well" its refreshing and animating contents, which irrigate the heart and increase the faith, by showing us the paths of life to walk.

. The Shepherd, the Flock, the Lion and the Bear

David was a shepherd, a zealous and fearless shepherd for the sake of his flock.  A fore-portrayal of Christ, but also of the Christ-like pastors of the Church - those who by participating in the Body of Christ fulfil their responsibilities impeccably, the way that God wants them to, according to the words: "2 Tend to the flock of God that is in your midst, supervising it, not constrainedly, but voluntarily, and not for profiteering, but willingly...... 8 Be sober, be vigilant; for your adversary the devil, paces about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour anyone..." (1 Peter 5:2, 8)

In the same manner, according to the paradigm of the "Good Shepherd" and a foreshadowing of the Holy Shepherds of the Church of God, David "places his soul" in danger "for the sake of his sheep"  (John 10:11).  Recall what David had said to Saul: 34And David said to Saul, "Your servant was a shepherd looking after his father's sheep, and whenever a lion and a bear would appear and snatch a lamb out of the flock, 35I would go out after them and kill them and snatch it out of their mouth; and if they revolted against me, I would grab them by the throat and beat them and kill them." 

He furthermore does not regard himself as a "powerful warrior", instead he humbly admits that: "37 The Lord, who spared me from the clutches of the lion and the clutches of the bear, will spare me from the clutches of this foreigner and uncircumcised one."

The lion and the bear are characteristic symbols indicating the enemies of the Church. Let us bring to mind here the satanic beasts described in the Book of Revelations, where the Apostle John describes them as follows: "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns were ten diadems, and upon his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth was like the mouth of a lion; and the dragon (=the devil) had given him his power and his throne and great authority..." (Revelation 13:1-2).  The lion and the bear are therefore dangers that originate from Satan and threaten the "logical sheep" of the Church of Christ.

. Goliath and blasphemies

In the same excerpt of Revelations, we notice that the Antichrist's Beast is a blasphemer, because it not only has "blasphemous names", but also because further along, we read the following: "And they bowed down before the dragon (=the devil) who had given authority to the Beast, and they bowed down before the Beast, saying: 'Who is like the Beast? Who is able to wage war with him?'  And he was given a mouth that uttered terrible things and blasphemy; and he was given the authority to wage war for forty-two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy towards God, blaspheming His Name and His Tabernacle; those dwelling in heaven..."  (Revelation 13: 4-6)

We see the same thing when reading about Goliath and his provocative words, and especially those that were addressed to David (the fore-portrayal of Christ): "And the Philistine cursed David with his gods" (verse 43).  This was blasphemy against the Son of God - in the likeness of the Shepherd David.  Just as Goliath had been cursing David (as the fore-portrayal of Christ) and His people for 40 days, so will the Beast wage war against God's saints for 42 months.  And just as the foreigner Goliath resorted to cursing the True God through his false "gods", so will the Beast apostatize and show his audacity against the God of All.  Likewise, the lion and the bear are portrayals of the worldly enemies of the Church as we read earlier on, hence - according to David's words:   36 Your servant fought against both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised foreigner is like one of  them : shall I not go and kill him, to take away the derision from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised one, who has derided the ranks of the living God?   37, The Lord who spared me from the clutches of the lion and the clutches of the bear will spare me from the clutches of this foreigner and uncircumcised one." (verses 36,37).  It becomes evident that David's words are categorizing Goliath among the "beasts" that obtain their authority from the devil - God's enemy - and that Goliath is thus a fore-portrayal of an Antichrist figure: the blasphemous Apostate who will clash with the people of God and will be vanquished by His hand.  We have seen in the preceding excerpt that David does not claim to be the one who defeats Goliath, but that God Himself is the one. We shall see this again, further along.

However, we should note that although the lion and the bear DO NOT blaspheme, but are merely "dangerous" beasts for the logical (intellectual) flock of the Church, Goliath on the other hand has an added characteristic, besides being dangerous. He is not only bestial like the lion and the bear; he is also BLASPHEMOUS, he is a logical (intellectual) entity, and is armed, not only with those animals' brutal power, but also with man-made, intricate weapons, as detailed in the related verse:  "4And there came out a strong man from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  5And he had a helmet upon his head, and he was armed with a vest of chainmail; and the weight of the vest was five thousand shekels of brass and iron.  6And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a shield of brass between his shoulders.  7And the shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and the tip of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one who carried his weapons walked ahead of him." (verses 4-7).

Furthermore, he not only seeks war, he even invokes HIS OWN GODS; and he also threatens the people of God, not with death, but with subjugation, with SLAVERY: " 8And he stood and shouted out to the ranks of Israel, and said to them, "Why have you come out to array yourselves for battle against us? Am I not a foreigner, and you the Hebrews of Saul?  Select a man from among you, and let him come down to me.  9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we shall be your slaves: but if I am able to kill him, then you shall be slaves to us and serve us." (verses 8,9)

We must therefore look for the corresponding Goliath, not among the political ranks of this world, but among the RELIGIOUS powers of Satan, which threaten to "vanquish" Christ from our hearts, and subjugate us to their false gods.  We are referring here to Satan's most intricate offensive of all time against the Church, ie: FALSE RELIGION AND HERESY.  And, whereas the lion and the bear represent the various brutal offensives against the Church, false religion and heresy are the "logical" (intellectual) dangers and as such, more powerful and insidious. They are provocative and blasphemous, and they lead man to SUBJUGATION when he becomes their victim. Their weapons are likewise man-made, intricate fabrications, which induce awe and admiration in the simple folk and intimidate those who are inexperienced in spiritual warfare because their support lies in weapons of the flesh and not of the spirit. False religion speaks logically (intellectually) and seems to convince people of its superiority, and in its heyday seems unstoppable and invincible... until such time as a fearless shepherd confronts it, with spiritual weapons, and replete with the Holy Spirit: someone like David. 

C. David's battle attire

The narration describes the attempt to arm David, as follows: "38And Saul garbed David with a mantle and a helmet of brass on his head;  39 and he also girded David with a sword strapped over his mantle. But he became weary after walking once and twice wearing them, and David said to Saul: "I cannot walk in these, for I am not experienced." And they removed them from him. (verses 38,39). Here we can see a portrayal of political-worldly authority (Saul) attempting to equip David with human armor for battle; with weapons that may be suitable for a worldly soldier, but not for a soldier of God.  However, they are human loads, which make the soldier of God UNABLE TO MOVE along the spiritual warpath because they rely on human intellect and inventiveness and not the power of God.  And although he could vanquish small enemies with those weapons, he will be vanquished by Satan's giants, who will confront him with even more powerful and intricate worldly weapons.  That is why the soldier of God, when embarking on such a spiritual battle, must "disrobe" himself of every worldly load and thus walk on the spiritual warpath unimpeded and freed of all the things that bind him to the world.  This is the only way that he will be able to defeat the latter-day Goliaths, who, albeit equipped with human weapons, lack the FREEDOM of the Holy Spirit and spiritual armor.  To quote the words of the Holy Bible: "Thus, having such a great cloud of martyrs around us, we too should discard every load, as well as easily acquired sin, and patiently run the race that is before us, with our sights towards the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus....."  (Hebrews 12: 1,2).   David's words to Goliath reflect this detail very aptly: " 45Then said David to the Philistine, "You have come to me with a sword, a spear and a shield: but I come to you in the name of the Lord God Shabuoth of the hosts of Israel, whom you have derided on this day.  46And the Lord will confine you on this day, by my hand; ...."  (verses 45, 46).

Thus, while Goliath appears as a fearsome warrior, David appears before him as a handsome youth, full of the beauty and confidence of the Holy Spirit, but also as a "child", with regard to the elements of malice and chastity: " 42And Goliath saw David and derided him for being a youth, and ruddy, and with a handsome appearance" (verse 42), which is reminiscent of the words: "Brethren, do not become childlike in mind; rather, become infantile towards malice, and in mind be perfect." (1 Cor.14: 20), and beautiful in soul, as in the words: "...seeking chaste associations with fear, which is not the external decoration with braiding of hair and adornment with gold or wearing of garments, but the latent man of the heart, in the incorruptible element of a meek and tranquil spirit, which is invaluable in the sight of God..." (1 Pet. 3: 4).

Goliath on the other hand is taken aback by David's strange appearance and addresses him with indignation: "Am I like a dog, that you come against me with sticks and rocks?"  (verse 43).  This is a response that is strongly reminiscent of the words seen in the Book of Revelations, ch.22:15 : "For outside (the holy city) are the dogs and the sorcerers and the degenerates and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and who tells lies."  We notice here that Goliath's characterization as a "dog" clearly identifies with liars and idolaters.  These are characteristics that mainly relate to false religion, Goliath being one such example.  And thus, insulted by David himself by being called a "dog", we are given an additional element that confirms this connection.

At the same time, we are also made aware of something else:  David harbors no respect whatsoever for this blasphemous idolater.  He does not engage in any spurious friendship with him, nor does he bother to address him politely and in a friendly manner.  This is a mortal enemy of the true God, and it is exactly how David sees him - yet another exemplar of how we should regard every false religion and heresy, ie., without any sympathy for its blasphemous content, instead, a complete and absolute hatred towards its every falsehood, which spiritually and eternally subjugates and mortifies our fellow-man.  There is a vast gap - a bridgeless chasm and a thorough hatred - between the true Church and the false ones.  After all, "....what fellowship can there be between righteousness and unrighteousness? And what communion can light have with darkness? And what concord can there be between Christ and Belial?" (2 Cor.6:14,15)  As much as we may love our deluded fellow-man and strive to free him from his fallacy, we must strive even more to hate the religion of falsehood that has subjugated him. And Goliath symbolizes this type of religion. (But we must be careful here !  We need to stress that Goliath symbolizes a FALSE RELIGION, and is not an example of a deluded faithful!  We must love the deluded faithful with all our soul.  Their false religion however deserves to be unabatedly despised, until its falsehoods are entirely eradicated.)  Furthermore, every form of respect towards a false religion and every courtesy does not befit Christians, based on the example of behaviour that we see in David confronting that symbol of falsehood.      

Then we notice that as soon as David appears before Goliath, equipped with his strange (but oh so spiritual) "military gear", Goliath's surprise and derision remind us of the words of the Apostle Paul:  "For we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we can see the things granted to us by God, which are also the things that we speak of - not in words taught by human wisdom, but as taught to us by the Holy Spirit, thus comparing spiritual things spiritually. But a physical person does not accept whatever is of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness according to him, and he cannot recognize them, because they are examined spiritually. However the spiritual person can examine everything, whereas he cannot be examined by anyone. For who has knowledge of God's mind, so that he can compare things? We however are Christ-minded."  (1 Cor.2:12-16).   To the infidel and the heretic, the Christian ways and struggles seem like foolishness.  But it is only with this worldly "foolishness" that the Church has progressed throughout History, conquering entire dynasties, putting the "wise" to shame, and vanquishing enemies and beasts who had dared to rear their heads against Her.  With this "foolishness", the Church has managed to triumph so far and She will continue Her triumphant course, up until the day of final victory! 

So, we have David standing before Goliath with the humility and innocence of a child, but at the same time with the courage and determination of a man; with beauty of soul, but also a deadly hatred for everything false and idolatrous; with minimal military gear, but equipped with freedom and heavenly lightness by the Holy Spirit. He has love and self-sacrifice for his flock of sheep, but also for Yahweh's logical flock.  With his experience and familiarity in the ways and the demands of mountain life, and having lived ascetically in the desert for the sake of his flock, with his acquired experience in confronting wild beasts and difficult situations, he now stands fully prepared to confront the giant.     

D. David's staff, slingshot and pouch

And what has David chosen as his "weapons" against this monstrous enemy?  The narration describes it in detail: 40And he took his staff in his hand, and chose for himself five smooth rocks out of the stream, and placed them in the shepherd's pouch which served him for collecting things, and his slingshot was in his hand: and he drew near to the foreign man. (verse 40).

First of all it says that he took hold of a "staff" - his shepherd's staff!  He went out to confront a beast, a giant, a huge "war machine", with a.... shepherd's staff! No wonder Goliath was taken aback and exclaimed: "Do I look like a dog to you?"  So, what can we surmise from the use of the staff?  Doesn't it mainly indicate David's fearlessness? A stick that drives away dogs and guides a flock of sheep is employed here as a weapon that will confront a fully equipped and fearsome warrior?  How humiliating this must have been for the gigantic Goliath!  It was as though David was speaking with actions (not words), "showing" him how insignificant he considered him.  "He must be insane!" would have been Goliath's thought, logically...

Of course an ordinary wooden staff against a fully-armed giant like Goliath would have had little or no effect; however, it does indicate something of extreme importance, if we stop to think of its symbolic dimension!  Because a shepherd's staff that is raised against a false religion (symbolized by Goliath) has a lot to say!  It shows us the poemantic (pastoral) aspect of the fight against heresies and false religion, because heresies are not confronted with man-made weapons, but with LOVE!  A deep, bottomless hatred for the heresy, and ABSOLUTE LOVE for its deluded members!  Love for our misguided brethren is what can kill a heresy, annihilate it and exterminate it. People who have been seduced by heresy need DIRECTION, the way a shepherd guides his sheep to show them the way.  It is not enough, to only attack the heresy. The logical sheep that were drawn into it are not enemies; they are merely poor, lost sheep who have strayed.  The enemy is heresy, not its victims.  There should be no compassion or sympathy for falsehood, but unlimited love and compassion for the unfortunate heretics and infidels who have been dragged into servitude because of it.  Whoever aspires to fight against heresy must be absolutely unrelenting, but at the same time, be a caring pastor and guide for the people that need help to abandon it. They need guidance, and it is his duty to offer it; to show them the way to exit that fallacy, but also the path to Salvation in Christ. 

The fight against heresies and false religion also presupposes ministering to the existing faithful sheep of the Church. A pastor cannot abandon the fold, leaving his own sheep scattered and uninformed.  He cannot abandon them and leave them prey to every enemy of the faith, and run off to battles far away from them.  Before embarking on saving the lost and misguided sheep of any heresy, and BEFORE commencing war, he must previously cater to his own sheep. He must first teach, guide and equip the sheep of his own flock, and only then should he venture to fight the enemy.  That is why the first item in David's military gear is the shepherd's staff: first comes defence, then the attack. We must first guard the rear, then attempt to storm the enemy's ranks.  Because albeit spiritual, IT TOO IS A BATTLE!

But David also has a slingshot - a slingshot that functions with rocks!  That is why David "...chose for himself five smooth rocks out of the stream...": the rocks had to be smooth, in order to travel through the air swiftly and accurately. The specific rocks that he chose were pebbles from a stream, because they had been ground to a smooth finish by the water and were more suitable for his purpose.

But how does the use of a slingshot relate to our spiritual war against heresies and false religions?   Why pebbles?  Why five pebbles?  And what is the symbolism of the stream and the pouch? What do all these details symbolize?

Let us begin with the rock . We have often stressed elsewhere the "classic" spiritual symbolism of the "rock" in the Holy Bible, which is none other than CHRIST. "....that you have tasted that the Lord is benevolent; approaching Whom, as a living rock disdained by people but one that is select to God, and valuable, you as likewise living rocks must also build yourselves as a spiritual house, a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices that are welcome to God through Jesus Christ; for it is contained in the Scripture: 'Behold, I place for Myself in Zion a cornerstone, select, valuable, and whosoever believes upon it shall not be disgraced. Therefore honour is befitting to those who believe, and to the disobedient, the rock that was rejected by builders - has become a cornerstone and also a stumbling block and a rock of scandal, for, by being undutiful, they stumble upon the Logos, unto Whom they were appointed . .  (1 Pet.2:3-8).

The par excellence weapon of the faithful is the Gospel word of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this, that we fight false religions and heresies; " ...For even though we walk in the flesh, we are not conscripted in the flesh, as the weapons of our army are not of the flesh, but they are powerful by God, for the tearing down of strongholds. And we tear down all thoughts and every high thing that arrogantly exalts itself before God, and we captivate every meaning for the sake of obedience to Christ" (2  Cor.10:3-5). 

It is the Divinely-inspired Gospel of Jesus Christ, the "rock", which was "once delivered, to the saints" (Judas 1:3) - the Divinely-inspired Gospel of Jesus Christ, expressed in History by the Church, through (1) the Holy Bible, (2) the Ecumenical Synods, (3) the approved texts of the Holy Fathers, (4) the Hymnology of the Church and (5) our Liturgical texts. It is with these 5 "rocks" - these 5 expressions of God's Word - that the Church can fatally wound and vanquish every fallacy and heresy.  These are the 5 rocks that David had carefully plucked out of the "stream" that is reminiscent of the "living water" mentioned in the Holy Bible:  "...Whosoever believes in me - as the scripture says - rivers of living water shall flow from his belly. This He said in reference to the Holy Spirit, which the believers in Him would receive...."  (John 7:38,39);  "And he showed me a river with the water of life, brilliant as crystal, pouring forth from the throne of God and the Lamb...." (Revelation 22:1); "The fiery river that flowed before Him; tens of thousands were ministering to Him and tens of thousands were standing around Him...." (Daniel 7:10), in the presence of the living God!

Thus, the "rocks" were symbolic of the words of the Gospel;  the divinely-inspired words pertaining to Jesus Christ; they were specially chosen and "smooth": flawless, without any improprieties or lies.  Words provided by Divine Revelation, by the Grace of God, polished smooth by His Holy Spirit. Words that could penetrate every barrier (like Goliath's heavy helmet) and pierce the head like a bullet. "And David reached out his hand to his pouch, and took one rock  from within it and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead, and the rock  sank through his helmet into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the ground." (verse 49).  Words of truth inevitably annihilate every falsity and heresy, by penetrating man's mind and restoring him to his senses, and by felling his false religion and bringing it to the ground.  It is in fact brought to the ground, face down, towards the earth that it deserves - just like a religion of the arch-evil serpent that was condemned to crawl on its belly.  Face down, also symbolizing prostration, in view of his defeat by Christ the Victor, whom he was at war with.  Where there used to be vanity and arrogance, there is now a full-body prostration.  And last of all his gear, David's "pouch" - the "....shepherd's pouch which served for collecting things..." was symbolic of the Church's Tradition - the "container" of the 5 expressions of God's word....

The end of this narration tells us that the "head of the heresy" was cut off,  rendering its body "headless", and its members afterwards scattered like sheep.  The victory of our Christ over heresy resembles a trophy-bearing victory, with the "Goliath's head" and armor being brought into the city of the victors.  After such a victory, the shepherd's staff will then help the lost sheep find the path of life and a refuge in Salvation. 

 

 

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Translation: K.N. 

Article published in English on: 22-1-2010.

Last update: 22-1-2010.

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