While his brothers ran to pursue the Philistines along with the rest of Israel, David quietly picked up the dripping head of Goliath and found a remote place to rest and collect himself.
He imagined going home. In his daydream David reached the house where his mother sat alone, fretting and praying. She looked up and seeing her son, she smiled a smile of gratefulness and relief.
“Did you give your brothers the food? Was the fighting heavy? How many of our men were killed? Did you see all of your brothers?” In his fantasy David waited patiently for the questions to end, and replied to his mother, “Israel is well. Your sons will return. I am going to my sheep.”
In his exhaustion David’s daydreaming plummeted him into a state of deep sleep. In that dark ethereal space angels came to minister to him. Like a mist of rose water on his hot dry face, like a hug from a beloved, like standing by the fire on a cold dark night, David received the comfort his tender heart needed.
He saw in his dream a gigantic balloon filled with the air of pride and glory. An arrow flew in front of his eyes and pierced it! Instantly the balloon deflated. He looked down his arm at a handful of ashes clenched in his fist.
He looked up again to see a white cloud wafting two meters from face. Deep within it pink sparkles of light pulsated like a beating heart. The moving cloud spread the fragrance of lilacs.
The cloud spoke without words to David. Yet he was able to translate the message into words he could understand. Without hearing, he knew exactly what the sparkling cloud was saying, “Goliath fell quickly didn’t he?”
David nodded clenching the ashes in his hand. He remembered how no force at all was needed. David did nothing. All he did was shoot his slingshot. How could a pebble pierce that rock-hard giant head?
Then it occurred to David that God was the one Who killed Goliath. All David had in his quiver was his faith, and God’s will. In truth, God was not about to allow His people Israel to fall into slavery again. The sparkles grew brighter and brighter as if being nourished by Truth, so bright that David awoke with a sunbeam shining directly on his face.
He looked up at a looming figure of an army commander standing over him. “Wake up young man, the king wants to speak with you.”
David picked up the head of Goliath by the long matted hair, then finagled himself and the head into a standing position and followed the man, Abner, to Saul.
David stood straight and tall before King Saul with head in hand and waited for the king to speak.
“Whose son are you young man?”
David answered briefly and specifically, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” respectfully without adding, “Surely you know me, I played the lyre for you. You know my father. How can you not recognize me? I had to leave my sheep for you!” David resented being taken from his rest. He wanted, he needed the time to contemplate his dream. The moment was grabbed away from him, and replaced by this awkward exchange with the king who had forgotten the hours they spent together while he played his lyre as music therapy. Had the demons won after all?
Behind Saul on his throne David noticed a young man with the same shaped jaw, and light brown hair, and strong straight nose. He looked to be about the same age and build as himself. He assumed it was the king’s son who he heard about but never met. The young man was looking back at him intently. David could not read the expression on his face. But it looked as if the young man was studying him.
Jonathan had never seen the lyre player, so he only associated David with the demise of Goliath. Jonathan thought that there was something about David, perhaps the clear tone of his voice, or was it his handsome ruddy face, but in a flash the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
King Saul never mentioned the reward for slaying Goliath. Although David thought that was the reason he was summoned, he didn’t dare inquire. David knew his place. He considered himself to be no more than a poor man, the youngest son of Jesse from the poor village of Bethlehem. The family from Ephraim was of the smallest tribe. Not even a tribe, but one of two sons of Joseph.
Nor did David even seek the reward. That wasn’t why he slew Goliath. His reward was to defend the reputation of God. How dare that Philistine presume to enslave Israel because of his height and muscle? David could not allow that. God was honored and pleased by David’s effort to represent the God of Israel, and that was reward enough.
But punishment?! David did not expect to be punished for slaying the giant. It was painful to hear the king say, “You will not return to your father’s house. You will live here.” And to his servants Saul shouted, “Find the boy a bed!” Then the king turned toward his son, “Jonathan, go with them.”
Jonathan was glad for the opportunity to be with David away from his father. He followed behind the servant and David, thinking of a way to endear himself to this special young man.
When they arrived at the quarters that were to be David’s new home, not even near his old room, Jonathan said to the servant, “You may go. I will orient the young man myself.”
David dropped the giant head and sat on the bed. More than anything he wanted to go back to sleep, to his dream. To the place where he was before being dragged to the palace. Wasn’t the reward for killing the giant to be free? Instead he was to be a prisoner of the palace.
David watched the king’s son stripping himself of his armor, which because of the heat was understandable, but then he continued to undress by taking off his robe which perplexed David. Jonathan said, “These are yours now. Here, take my sword, and my bow and my belt too. You are more worthy than I, and more able than I to be the next king.”
“I don’t know what to say.” replied David. “I am a shepherd. I play the lyre. The Lord strengthened me to make a good shot with my slingshot.
Jonathan replied , “I think the Lord who brought you this far, and put Goliath into your hands to save Israel will continue to use you. I will step aside to make a way for the Lord’s chosen.”
Memories came to him of the oil of Samuel dripping down his head and face, and the explosion it made deep within his chest. Again, he did nothing to earn that moment, nothing that he could think of. He was merely his mother’s son who was taught to worship their mighty God. The God who made the earth and who destroyed it except for Noah and his family. The God who led his people out of Egypt after slaying all the first born, even Pharaoh’s son. How often David thought of Passover night and what it must have felt like to flee a home and the bonds of slavery and walk through the Red Sea into the unknown.
Jonathan broke in by saying, “I will leave you now, as I see you are tired. Your servant will fetch you for supper.”
“Thank you Jonathan, my brother.” David stood up and the young men hugged before Jonathan departed feeling content with himself.
Finally alone with his thoughts, David laid down on the bed and waited for sleep to come.
Instead, words percolated up from his heart to his mind. In that dark cool lifeless room, which was actually the entrance to a new chapter in his life David said to himself:
“The Lord is my shepherd.” And by saying this, he began to accept his new reality. For years he had driven his sheep hither and yon. Never did they complain or whine. Nor would he. He would go to wherever the Lord drives him, even if he had to leave his pasture and become a warrior.
“I shall not want.” For he knew that only with obedience and gratitude could he please his Maker and God.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” Suddenly David felt the soft grass under him, as if the bed was transformed into a pasture, and in that moment he realized that he could be there in the pasture, in his soul whenever he needed to. It was his physical presence that was the illusion.
“He restores my soul.” For God will renew his soul and heal him from every distress that the world brings, if only he would yield his will to his God.
“He guides me in the path of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” Righteousness. Yes! holy righteousness was the key to the world of peace and confidence. No fear. He must keep the law before him always, for the law is life.
“Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” David had a premonition that the days ahead would be consumed with death. He saw the darkness of war fill his waking hours as a blood red moon fills the evening sky. Killing was to be his calling. The thought frightened the young shepherd, until he told himself that God was his Shepherd and that he needed to go where he was driven. How then could fear accompany his way? What betrayal of his relationship to his Shepherd would that be?
“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” How often had David needed to smack a lamb to save it from danger with a painful blow? David knew where to find water and where there was a ravine or a precipice. The lambs yielded to David’s will, by rod if need be. From shepherding David learned, like a sculptor learns his skill after years of poor attempts, to push away the anger and fear that strong and stupid willfulness yield to.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” What joy! My enemies are great. They seek my demise. They torment me with meanness, wishing only my harm, my misery. In the face of the storm of hatred I am weak. But God is strong. He is my Shield and my Provider. Those who want me crippled or dead, are watching as the Lord of Heaven and earth blesses me. They writhe foaming at the mouth behind a glass barrier. Unable to harm, but instead they must watch me dine on delicacies. I am content. I am grateful. I am safe.
“Thou annointest my head with oil.” Holy olive. The first to rise from the Flood, to bring good news of survival and renewal to emaciated Noah. Like light to darkness. Holy olive squeezed. Its essence separated from its flesh, illuminates; olive oil feeds the flame that extinguishes darkness. This sacred means of light was first poured on the stone where Jacob lay his sleeping head and there met the Lord God in his dream, and generations later was poured on the head of Aaron to become the first priest. Sacred anointing. Transference.
“My cup runneth over.” Abundance of light and blessings, more than my heart can contain.
“Surely only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Safety, security, relief from suffering and fear. Joy, bliss, abundance. Every day.
“And I will dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.” A prisoner of the palace, David sat on his bed that day imagining the Lord’s house and eternity. David realized at the moment of saying this inspired line for the first time, that his soul was immortal, that his essence would never dwell in the darkness of sleep but live and see, and dwell in a house much grander and more peaceful than this palace.
Tears trickled down David’s young cheeks, and he thought about his mother’s moist cheeks, and he prayed for her peace of heart. How would she learn that he was safe, and alive?