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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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DAVID AND GOLIATH

A FRESH war broke out between the Israelites and the Philistines. The two armies encamped upon two neighboring hills with a narrow valley between them. There came a man out of the camp of the Philistines who was called Goliath. He was a giant, being nearly ten feet in height. He stood in the valley between the two armies, and cried out in a loud voice to the Israelites, -

"I will fight any man in your army whom you may choose to send me. And if he fights me and kills me, then the Phil- [134] istines will agree to be your servants; but if I kill him, then you must be our servants. For is it not better to place one man in danger than to place a whole army in danger?"

No one among the Israelites durst answer him, and he returned to his own camp. Next day he came out and used the same words. And every morning for forty days he came out and defied the men of Israel.

Three of Jesse's sons were in Saul's army. David used sometimes to come and bring them provisions and other presents from his father. On one of these visits he heard the boasting words of Goliath. He was filed with anger, and said to his brethren, -

"I am willing to fight in single combat with this giant."

But his elder brother reproved him and told him he talked foolishly, and bade him return to the flocks. David did not answer his brother, because of the respect he felt for his age, but on his way out of the camp he told some of the soldiers that he was willing to fight the giant. And when Saul was told what the young man had said, he sent for him, and asked him if it was true that he desired to fight with the giant.

"Yes, O king," said David, "for I do not fear this Philistine, but will go down and fight with and conquer him, big and fierce as he is, and you and your army will gain great glory when he shall be slain by one who has little experience in war, but who looks like a child, and in years is almost a child."

Saul wondered at the boldness of the youth, but he told him that he was too young for so great an enterprise.

"Nay," said David, "for I know that the Lord will assist me and give me the victory. For once I slew a lion that had stolen a lamb from my father's flock, and afterwards I slew a bear which had come up to attack me. And I will slay this Philistine as I slew the lion and the bear."

And Saul said to David, "Go thy way to the fight, and may the Lord be with thee."

[135] Then Saul gave David his own armor to wear. But David when he had put it on found it too heavy, and said, "I cannot go with this." So he laid it aside, and took a staff in one hand and a sling in the other, and he chose five smooth stones out of the brook, which he put into his sheperd's sack, and in this manner he started out to meet Goliath.

When the giant saw him coming he began to jeer at him, because he was so young and carried no warlike weapons.

"Dost thou take me for a dog," he asked, "that thou comest to me with stones?"

"I take you," said David, "for something less than a dog."

The giant became very angry a these words, and he cursed David and told him he would "tear his body into a thousand pieces, and give them to be eaten by the birds and the beasts."

"Nay," said David, "thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear and a breastplate, but I have God for my armor, who will destroy thee by my hands, and I will this day cut off thy head and cast the other parts of thy body to the dogs."

Then David fitted on of the stones into his sling, and he ran forward and slung it against the Philistine. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead and sank into his brain, and he fell dead upon the ground, and David stood over him and cut off his head with the giant's own sword.

Upon the fall of Goliath, the Philistines all fled. The Israelites pursued them with loud cries of joy to the borders of Gath and to the gates of Askelon, and there were slain of the Philistines thirty thousand, while twice as many were wounded.

As Saul returned in triumph, a number of women and girls came out to meet the army with songs and dances, and praised them for their victory. And especially they praised Saul and David, but David more than Saul. For they said, "Saul hath killed his thousand,s and David hath killed his tens of

[136] thousands." The king was angry when he heard these songs, and was jealous of David. He was afraid of him also, because he saw that God was with the youth, and he knew God no longer looked kindly on himself.

So he thought he would rid himself of David by making him captain of a thousand men and always sending him on the most dangerous expeditions. But David always returned safely, and his great bravery won him the applause of all. Michal, the king's daughter, heard so much about him that she fell in love with him, and told her father she wished to marry him. This put a new plan into Saul's head. He told David that if he would bring to him the heads of six hundred Philistines he would give him his daughter Michal in marriage. Saul said this because he hoped David would be slain himself before he could kill so many men. But David went out and fought with the Philistines and killed a great number of them, and brought six hundred of their heads to Saul. Then the king was obliged to give Michal to him for his wife. But he hated and feared him more than ever. So he resolved to have David slain, and he commanded his son Jonathan and his most faithful servants to kill him. Now Jonathan loved David, and wondered greatly at what his father commanded, but instead of obeying he told David of the secret charge that had been given him, and advised him to be absent the next day.

I will talk to my father," said he, "if I find him well and in a good humor, and will show him what a wicked thing it is that he wants me to do."

Next day it happened that Saul was much better than usual; Jonathan spoke to him, and told him that it would be very unwise, as well as a great crime, to kill David, who had been so useful in delivering them from heir enemies, and whose help they might need at any time. Ad Saul saw that Jonathan was right, and he suffered David to live.


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