As David faces Goliath, what is his plan? How will he defeat Goliath? Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, argues that David had no plans to fight Goliath in hand-to-hand combat, as this wouldn’t play to his strength. David is a projectile warrior, not an infantryman. Gladwell writes:
He runs toward Goliath, because without armor he has speed and maneuverability. He puts a rock into his sling, and whips it around and around, faster and faster at six or seven revolutions per second, aiming his projectile at Goliath’s forehead— the giant’s only point of vulnerability.
Eitan Hirsch, a ballistics expert with the Israeli Defense Forces, recently did a series of calculations showing that a typical-size stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of thirty-five meters would have hit Goliath’s head with a velocity of thirty-four meters per second— more than enough to penetrate his skull and render him unconscious or dead.
In terms of stopping power, that is equivalent to a fair-size modern handgun. ‘We find,’ Hirsch writes, ‘that David could have slung and hit Goliath in little more than one second— a time so brief that Goliath would not have been able to protect himself and during which he would be stationary for all practical purposes.’ . . .
Twice David mentions Goliath’s sword and spear, as if to emphasize how profoundly different his intentions are. Then he reaches into his shepherd’s bag for a stone, and at that point no one watching from the ridges on either side of the valley would have considered David’s victory improbable. David was a slinger, and slingers beat infantry, hands down. ‘Goliath had as much chance against David,’ the historian Robert Dohrenwend writes, ‘as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have had against an [opponent] armed with a .45 automatic pistol.’
After taking a closer look at David’s victory, we can see that it isn’t far-fetched at all. The true puzzle is why nobody else in Israel’s army realized what David realized! The text indicates that David’s faith in God and his devotion to God’s commands are what gave him his courage and his willingness to face the giant, when the rest of the army cowered in fear.