The rising of the sun from the east was yet to be sighted before he rose up from his bed; even though he slept later than he was accustomed to the night before, he woke up feeling refreshed and eager to start what promises to be another interesting day. More than the usual. His father had instructed him he would be taking some food supplies to his brothers in the army and the thought of getting to see the king and his men in action sent chills of thrills down his spine. He even packed the ten loaves of bread and the sack of wheat the previous night, so he could set out early.
He planned to spend the whole day at the army camp in the Valley of Elah.
As the youngest in the house, David accepted and enjoyed his day responsibility of taking care of his father’s sheep, but ever since Samuel came to their house some weeks ago and prayed for him in the midst of his brothers he began feeling restless in the field with the sheep. He felt there was more to his youthful existence than being a shepherd boy, he never complained but carried on his duties cheerfully waiting to come of age to join the army. Today would be his first glimpse of his future at close range and he intends to relish every bit of it.
He got ready in no time and bade farewell to his father after leaving the sheep with another keeper for his day off. He packed the food supplies, mounted his horse and rode as fast as he could towards the Valley of Elah where the king and his men were camped.
The 4-hour ride was a short one for David for he was in great haste to get to the Valley. He couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time for the soldiers were just about getting into battle formation against the army of the Philistines, who camped on the other side of the mountain. David wasted no time in dropping the bread and wheat off with the army supplies keeper and made off towards the troops to find his brothers.
David was spotted by Abinadab who signaled for his other brothers Eliab and Shammah and they stepped out of the gathered troops to embrace him. Eliab was the first to speak.
‘How popsie and everybody for house?’
‘Everybody dey alright, na popsie talk say make I arrange bread and things come for una.’ David replied. ‘Things dey okay over there, how far? Wetin dey go on here?’
‘O’boy, we don dey here for forty days, it get one…’
The words had hardly left Eliab’s mouth when a loud murmur arose within the camp, David could make out the words; ‘He don dey come again oh!’ from the troops. He shifted away from his brothers so he could see what the men were staring at from afar.
He couldn’t believe the sight that greeted his eyes.
Across the mountain was the tallest being he had ever seen, the giant who appeared to be ten feet tall had a bronze helmet on his head and was completely clad in a coat of heavy armor. He wore bronze on his legs to guard his shins and carried the heaviest looking bronze sword ever forged by men. He held another heavy looking spear in his other hand and a shield bearer went before him. He opened his mouth to speak and his voice rang throughout the mountain side, striking fear in the mind of the bravest of the soldiers.
‘WHY UNA LINE UP AS IF SAY UNA SABI TO FIGHT? SHEBI I BE PHILISTINE AND UNA DEY SERVE SAUL. MAKE UNA ARRANGE PERSON FROM UNA SIDE TO COME FIGHT ME, IF HIM KPAI ME…’ The giant paused to laugh. ‘…IF UNA MAN KPAI ME, THEN ALL OF US GO BE UNA SERVANTS BUT IF I MUD AM, THEN UNA GO SERVE US.’
‘I CHALLENGE ISRAEL ARMY TODAY, ARRANGE PERSON FROM UNA SIDE WEY GET LIVER ENOUGH TO FACE ME!’
Silence fell as the giant on the other side spoke, David could see the soldiers shake and some of the men stepped back. Some ran to the side to empty their bowels via their mouth, stricken by fear. Not a man in the camp of Israel could hide the dismay and fear from the words of the Philistine giant.
David turned around; his brothers were no longer by his side so he asked the closest soldier.
‘Wetin dem go do for person wey kill this Philistine and commot shame from Israel body? Who this guy think say him be, wey him dey misyarn about soldiers wey dey fight for the living God?’
‘Guy, relax small. Shey this one resemble human being ni?’ The soldier’s voice trembled slightly. ‘Dem talk say person wey kill am go marry king Saul pikin, the king go give am plenty money and him family no go pay tax ever again. Upon all the jolly jolly things wey king offer, nobody dey ready to go face this giant and kpai for nothing.’
‘For real. Na wa oh…shebi na we dey serve Jehovah.’
David turned and asked another man the same question. A small number began to surround him before Eliab came over, clearly exasperated.
‘David, wetin dey worry you? Shooo!? Shebi you don deliver the food, wetin you still dey find here? Shey the sheep for house go take care of themselves ni? I know say you be proud guy but this kind fight no be for small boys.’
‘Haba, wetin I done do now, bro? Shey na like this e go dey dey? Shey na like this una go dey allow that Philistine dirty us? Ehn?’
In a short while, David’s enquiry and bold words got to Saul and he summoned him over.
‘Make fear no catch anybody on top that Philistine, I dey ready to go fight am sir.’ David said to the king.
‘Haha! You this boy, calm down small. You no fit face am, you no get experience and you still be small boy. This guy done dey fight before dem born you sef nah.’ King Saul replied.
‘No be so baba. I get experience; when I dey take care of my popsie sheep for bush, lion don attack one of the sheep before and I commot the sheep for the lion mouth, I hold am for him bear-bear and kill am on top say I no carry weapon oh. Even bear sef don attack us before and I also mud the bear for my hand alone too.’ David continued. ‘This Philistine pig go be like one of the animals wey I don kpai, and Baba God wey help me handle the bear and lion go assist me engage this giant wey dey harass our guys. Na sure thing sir.’
David confidence was irresistible and Saul finally gave in to him, since none of his trained soldiers had half of the courage as the young man was showing.
‘Ok. Go fight the guy then, I pray say Baba God go dey with you.’ Saul then called for his armor bearers to dress David up for battle.
‘Shege, this thing too heavy!’ David exclaimed as he was dressed in the king’s armor. ‘I no even fit waka talk less of say I go engage the giant for this kind armor wey I never even touch before. I no even fit carry the sword well join sef.’
He took off the king’s clothes of metal and thanked the king for the opportunity to serve; he picked up his staff and left the king’s tent. He avoided running into any of his brothers for he was sure they would stop him from going on what they would deem a suicidal mission.
He walked over to a nearby brook, and for the first time in the day David paused to ponder on what he was about to set off to do. If I fail and get killed by this giant, the whole of Israel will become slaves to the Philistines. He shook the thought off as fast as it came, refusing to dwell on the consequence of failure.
He picked up five smooth stones by the brook and put them in his shepherd’s bag. He checked to confirm the catapult sling in his pocket.
He turned back and started walking towards the Valley of Elah, which lies between Azekah and Sochoh, to face the giant who defied the army of Israel.
To be continued