I read the Bible every year, and catch myself thinking about backstories to characters that are not told. For example: A lot is said about four of the disciples. What about the others? What was Adam and Eve's relationship like before the fall into sin? How awful/exciting would it have been to live on the ark for all those months? Today's prompt came from my husband, who wondered aloud what David's older brothers might have gone through watching their youngest sibling kill a giant.
The horn sounded, instigating a flurry of activity in the camp. My brothers and I left our breakfast and hurried to rejoin our units and form the battle lines. It was a daily humiliation: That giant Philistine taunts us for a bit, with no movement in the battle. We were in a stalemate. He was calling for one-on-one combat, but no one was stupid enough to try to fight Goliath!
"Eliab!" I thought I'd heard that familiar voice talking with some of my fellow soldiers. Sure enough, when I turned to the voice I saw my youngest brother David standing there.
Like I didn't have enough pressure! "Why are you here? Where are your sheep? You heard the battle horn didn't you? Just have to see the battle, huh?"
"What have I done wrong?"
"Go away. You shouldn't be here."
"Oh, but Dad sent down some bread and cheese. It's with the supply master." I glared at him and David turned to walk away. What a relief. It was bad enough that he came down at times to play the harp for King Saul; he had no business with the battle.
My relief was short-lived when I saw David further down the line, questioning soldiers. I could hear one of them explaining, "Yeah, the king will give anything to the one who..." It was well-known in the camp that if anyone succeeded in killing Goliath the reward would be great. But he was nine feet tall! He was a giant - solid muscle, with weapons too strong to go against. It was madness.
Soon, David had run off into the center of the camp. "Good thing, too," I thought. "Stay with the supply master, or better yet, go home."
The sun rose higher, shortening our shadows, as we stood in un-moving battle lines. My leg was starting to cramp, when I noticed movement near the center of the line. I took advantage of the distraction to stamp the cramping leg and watch. King Saul was coming from his tent in the camp and soldiers were parting the way. Like everyone else, I stared, dumbfounded. He rarely left his tent these days.
Wait. He was leading... David? The king's armor bearer was laden with all the battle armor, but David wasn't wearing any. "What is he doing?" I muttered.
"Eliab, isn't that your brother?"
"Yeah...but," I was too far to hear, but King Saul, his armor bearer, and David stopped behind the line and talked for a moment. I groaned in embarrassment. David was in the king's presence more often than I was, with his harp and music. Just never in public. I'd never hear the end of this.
The lines parted and my little brother walked through to the front. I couldn't see him through the soldiers, but could see the movement. So could Goliath. From his height, he could see everything. He was already laughing when David came out in front. "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" he bellowed.
Great. Now, thanks to my kid brother, we've pissed off the giant! His taunts were more personal now, like he was offended. Then he stopped and appeared to be listening. Oh no, what flowery words was David saying? I couldn't hear everything, but his voice rose a few times. "...I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty..." mutter, murmur, "...For the battle is the Lord's..."
Why did he have to shoot his mouth off at Goliath of all people? My heart was in my stomach as I saw Goliath moving forward, raising his spear. He was going to skewer my brother! David might be a pain, but he was still my brother.
Then there was a whoosh, and the whole company gasped to see a rock land deep in Goliath's forehead. His eyes crossed and he collapsed.
No way. Soon the Philistines were running and we had to pursue them, but I stopped when I got up to the giant's body and saw David lifting the head out of the dirt. He'd cut it off after Goliath fell. David looked up at me and smiled as if this was just a normal day. I had no words, but a lot of questions.
"Eliab! Come on!" My questions would have to wait. Duty called.