The Warrior-Poet is the ancient tradition of dedication to developing the body and the mind equally as one, using each to guide the other. The warrior-poet is often a spiritual warrior as well. They have higher standards that they live their life by than average men.
Many of the current special forces warriors of the US military branches might be considered today’s warrior-poets. They are highly trained and skilled in all areas of warfare, yet many have advanced degrees in subjects such as Philosophy, Literature, Engineering, or even Poetry. They are all the more effective because their minds and bodies are highly developed to function as one. They are no longer just programmed machines, but highly intelligent and adaptive “whole” men, trained to use their minds as well as their bodies.
Throughout history there may have been no more rugged, masculine man or powerful leader than King David. David started being passionate, courageous, and spiritually faithful very early in life.
One time when he was a young teenage shepherd boy, a bear made off with one of his flock. David tracked it down and killed it with just his bare hands to get his sheep back! Another time he did the same with a lion! Think about that, killing bears and lions without a weapon! Then, as if those accomplishments weren’t enough, while still a teenager, he killed a heavily armed nine-foot-tall giant with a bad attitude using just a sling and a rock while all the rest of the army of grown men and battle-hardened warriors trembled with fear in a ditch behind him.
The book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 describes David’s battle with Goliath. I think it’s important to put this confrontation into perspective so we can put ourselves in David’s shoes. David was a young man—just a teenager. He was described as slight of build, fair-skinned, and not very tall.
While bringing lunch to the battlefield for his brothers, David heard Goliath insulting God, and laughing and taunting the soldiers and the God of Israel. This righteously displeased David. He was perplexed and angry that no one was doing anything about it, and so he confidently volunteered to shut Goliath’s pie hole. David probably figured he’d already killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands—how tough could a measly giant be? David knew he had the holy spirit within him and likely did not fear a mere mortal man.
Goliath was the mightiest warrior of the entire Philistine army. The Israeli army was deathly afraid of him as every day he strode forward from the enemy camp and hurled insults at the Jews and their God. He was reported to be six cubits and a span tall. A cubit is approximately 18 inches in length and a span is about nine inches, which would have made Goliath a towering nine feet, nine inches tall. He wore a coat of armor (plates of bronze sewn overlapping on a leather coat), which weighed 5,000 shekels of bronze, or about 125 pounds.
He carried a bronze javelin, the staff of which was like a weaver’s beam—between 2.5 to three inches in diameter. I don’t know how long it was but it had to be huge if the diameter was as big around as the head of a baseball bat.
Let’s estimate for sake of speculation that an average spear is one inch in diameter and approximately six to eight feet long. That would, by extrapolation, make Goliath’s spear about 15-20 feet long. If it was made of solid bronze, it would weight at minimum about 270 pounds at 2.5 inches in diameter, and about 345 pounds if three inches in diameter, which would seem excessively heavy even for a behemoth like Goliath.
An Olympic javelin used today is approximately one inch in diameter, weights about 800 grams (1.76 pounds), and is about 2.6 meters long (8.5 feet). So even if Goliath’s spear was made out of wood and not some lightweight metal (or fiberglass) like today’s javelins, I estimated the weight of an average wooden pole, one inch by 8.5 foot long and came up with about four pounds (I readily admit my math skills are rusty—any engineers out there please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
Since Goliath’s javelin was about three times as thick and twice as long as that model, I estimate that his wooden spear probably weighed in the range of 22 to 26 pounds. Attached to this pole was an iron spearhead weighting 600 shekels or about 17 pounds for a total weight of maybe 43 pounds—a pretty hefty chunk of weight to carry around and throw. He also wore a bronze helmet on his head, bronze armor (greaves) on his legs, and had a shield-bearer in front of him. He was a veritable war machine—bigger and more powerful than any three men combined.
As David approached the field of battle with just his shepherd’s staff and sling, Goliath sneered, “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks? Come here [boy],” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” Then David, in classic line, responded with complete confidence, “You come against me with a sword, and spear, and javelin. But I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you over to me, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” (1 Samuel 17:43-46 NIV)
Enraged, Goliath charged. It must have been like being charged by an angry bull elephant, ground thundering and dust flying. But David calmly picked up five smooth stones and running forward slung one from his sling which struck Goliath and embedded itself in his forehead, dropping him like a dirty shirt. David then walked over, picked up Goliath’s huge sword, and hacked off his giant head, taunting the enemy army with it. The entire Philistine army turned tail and ran.
But for all his skill as a warrior, David was also an accomplished poet (he wrote most of the psalms in the Book of Psalms), a songwriter, and a musician. He also liked to dance in public (naked if possible) to worship God. He was a noted musician who had soothed Saul with music during his periods of insanity. He was educated and could read and write when many men (especially warriors) couldn’t. This gave him a distinct advantage over his less educated opponents.
David was a Poet Warrior. He was a man’s man. And yet he was flawed. He made many mistakes. He wasn’t necessarily a good husband. He committed adultery and then had the woman’s husband killed by sending him into a battle that he could not survive.
He wasn’t necessarily the best father around. One of his sons tried to overthrow him as king and have him killed. He wasn’t the holiest man to walk the face of the earth. He was often scared and frustrated with God.
But David had great faith in God and cried out to him in his fear, pain, frustration, anguish, and joy. God called him a “man after my own heart.”
David shows us that even if we are imperfect men, reliance on God can make us men who can change history.
Question: Can you share with your son the “Goliath’s” you face in life and how you do battle with them?