A Battle for the Ages

It was time of the Old Testament. The battle-hardened Philistines had moved into Palestine and slowly trudged along the coast towards a mountain ridge near Bethlehem. Their target was to attack and break the kingdom of Israel ruled by the weak King Saul. They finally set up camp on the southern end of the mountain ridge.  

Israelites under King Saul alarmed seeing their sworn enemies, rushed down the mountains and set up camp on the northern side of the ridge.

The two armies were now looking at each other across the ravine. But neither dared to move. Because either of them had to run down the ridge and climb up the mountain – exposing themselves to the enemy on the top. Suicidal.

40 Days passed in posturing. Philistines finally lost patience. They sent their greatest warrior down to fight. A giant 6 foot 9 inch barbarian, with full body armour, javelin and spear. With an attendant to hold his shield. He let out a wild battle cry :

‘Choose your warrior. Let him come and fight me. If you win, we’ll be your slaves. If I win, you’ll be ours’

The Israelites were terrified. None felt they had a chance. King Saul was desperate for a volunteer. Finally, he saw a shepherd boy walk up: ‘I will fight. I’ve killed many a lion and bear’. The king tried to dissuade but the boy was firm. He also refused the King’s armour. He just picked 5 smooth stones and put them in his shoulder bag.  

The stage was set for history’s most famous battle.

The boy ran down the ridge with the staff in hand. Like a bolt of lightning. The giant looks at his puny rival and feels insulted. Growls in anger.  The boy, on the run,  slips a stone into a sling in his pouch. Takes aim and fires at the exposed forehead of the giant. The giant falls. Stunned. The shepherd boy runs to him. Picks the giant’s sword and cuts off his head. The Philistines see that their warrior is dead and flee.

The giant’s name was Goliath. The shepherd boy’s name was David.  

And from that day till forever, the story of David and Goliath is the greatest metaphor for the battles of the underdog.


There is so much about David and Goliath, but I was motivated to share this story after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s iconic book : David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants written in 2013, and released by Penguin. It is a masterclass on the strategies of Underdogs – in which he shared great stories from history and popular culture. As usual, a riveting read.

For a quick read you could head here for the wiki page

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