Glimpses of Israel - Valley of Elah

by Joseph Hunting

It was a beautiful mild and sunny spring day when I visited the Valley of Elah and visualized the drama that was enacted there 3,000 years ago.

On the side of the valley the Philistines were camped in battle array. On the other side was the army of Israel under the leadership of the warrior king Saul. Prior to this the Philistines had oppressed Israel. But that was before Israel had a king to lead them in battle.

Had not Israel's God wrought great miracles in the past? The Philistines had heard of the Red Sea parting, likewise the Jordan. They had heard about the defeat of the giants Og and Sihon with their armies on the other side of the Jordan. But the Philistines were a proud people who had not been dispossessed by Joshua 400 years earlier. And they, too, had their god Dagon.

Before the battle was joined the Philistines waged psychological warfare to intimidate the Hebrews. The awesome figure of Goliath, a giant some twelve feet in height, daily taunted Israel with jibes and threats. If the Israelites can send a man to vanquish Goliath no further battle need be fought and the Philistines would serve Israel as a conquered people. Thus Goliath taunted and mocked the Hebrews and their God.

The defeat of Goliath by the stripling David is one of the most thrilling stories in all Scripture. Armed only with a sling and five small stones he ran to meet Goliath with those memorable words, "You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." (1st Samuel 17:45).

It was good to sit there and meditate on the wonderful victory won through David's courage and great faith in the God of Israel. And it was good to recall His words, "I AM THE LORD, I CHANGE NOT."