Monday, January 27, 2014

Forty Days

This is a scene from For The Love Of David, taken from 1 Samuel 17. Told from the perspective of Saul's daughter, Michal, as she heard the story from others.

The Philistines gathered at Shochah, their red suits of armor, protected by heavy, black grease, staining Judah’s green hills like old, darkened blood. My father, King Saul, and the men of Israel pitched on the hills opposite, the valley of Elah between them, a green and golden belt of fields and trees along the river, unperturbed by the battle brewing on its flanks.
  They expected this to be a routine battle of hundreds against hundreds, massing over the battlefield, a nightmare melee of swords and heat and blood, always blood, the sickening smell mixed with sweat and dust catching in your throat, the metallic, warm taste of it on your lips and tongue, the sight of it smeared on shields, and gushing from deathly wounds, the slippery feel of it soaking your sword hilt, or the dry crusty feeling of dried blood on your own tunic when you’re not sure how it even got there or whose blood it is, yes, even the sound of it as men screamed in agony while the life poured out of them.
  But it wasn’t that. And though at first it was a relief, the curiosity soon gave way to chilling, paralyzing fear when they saw the Philistine’s champion.  

Goliath of Gath was over six cubits tall. He was fully armed, and his greasy red armor must have made him look like his huge chest was one great wound. His spear staff was like a slender tree, a fence post, a weaver’s beam tipped by a six-hundred-shekel iron knife. He was so fearless that when he came to give his challenge, he didn’t even carry his own shield; he had a servant carry his shield for him.
  The army of Israel watched his approach with trepidation and shaking. He was still several hundred yards away when he stopped at the base of the hill and bellowed his challenge across the hills. Even for such a large man, his voice was surprising, a shout like an ox that somehow formed words, twisted as they were by his heathen tongue.
  “Why are you come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and you servants to Saul?” He had answered his own rhetorical question and no one moved. The giant laughed.
  “Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me,” he shouted, and his challenge was already like an insult.
  Israel was frozen, even my father speechless. Goliath of Gath continued.
  “If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.”
  No one moved. My father was staring at the giant, and his lips moved soundlessly for a moment, but he did not speak.
Goliath met my father’s eyes across the camp and his booming, mocking laugh echoed off Israel’s hills.
  “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together!”
  My father turned to face his generals, his paralyzing fear mirrored in their pale faces. 
  And for forty days, they did nothing.

Continued on Thursday.