The unheard story of David and Goliath | Malcolm Gladwell

Published 2013-09-30
It's a classic underdog tale: David, a young shepherd armed only with a sling, beats Goliath, the mighty warrior. The story has transcended its biblical origins to become a common shorthand for unlikely victory. But, asks Malcolm Gladwell, is that really what the David and Goliath story is about?

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All Comments (21)
  • Cwarner
    The others thought Goliath was too big to beat while David thought he was too big to miss
  • Maggie Naidoo
    When I talk about David, I always talk about how he never ran into kingship the moment he was chosen. He lived his life and in doing so he was slowly prepared for what was to come. Unlike the average soldier, David faced lions and bears and killed them. He was courageous and fearless but mostly he was faithful in the covering he had. What you belief is very important because what you believe is what you give power to. He had no doubt and no fear!

    Lesson: Every difficult situation we face and overcome, seasons us, prepares us and strengthens us, if you learn the lessons it brings! Life is full of lessons! Hammered metal is the toughest! Be confident, brave and fearless! But mostly have FAITH IN GOD!
  • BLFulle
    I really enjoyed this talk. I do have something to add. The Masoretic Text has "six cubits and a span" (9 feet 9 inches or 2.97 metres) as Goliath's height. Another thing you didn't mention was that David went and picked 5 smooth stones before his battle with Goliath. Why was that? Because Goliath had 4 brothers. I suppose he felt he might have to fight them out.
    I loved the end of your talk, what appears to be their greatest strength can also be a giants greatest weakness.
    With God all things are possible.
  • Andrew James
    Songs like this fill my soul with joy. I lost my leg in a war at a very young age. I had no means of getting income, my wife left me cause I wasn’t able to met up with her needs anymore, things were going bad for me until I met a man of God named Cory Joseph Paul Skype and Facebook. I had conversations with him and after that we being Busi mess like christ like in which I invested one thousand dollars with him.
    This man was God sent and I will not be where I am if God didn’t send him to me. My story changed from grass to grace, he introduced me to a bitcoin business 3 years ago. Now I own my own small charity where I help christians who are in need of financial help. I see myself doing Gods work and what he wants us to do. i am here to motivate and make you understand that with God nothing is impossible.
  • Lorrin Barth
    When I was a teen I was taken to the country to play with some boys who lived on a farm. A ten year old had a sling and asked if I wanted to see him hit a building in the distance. Off on the horizon I could see a galvanized grain storage building - a long rifle shot. The boy selected a chunk of concrete about the size of a fist, spun it, let go and then we waited and waited. Then - CLANG! At that moment the David and Goliath story changed in my mind.
  • MrDeppness
    Very good presentation with some thoughtful points. But just for the record:

    1. Goliath's height was noted as six cubits (18 inches x 6) and a span (9 inches) which calculates to 9'9", not 6'9".
    2. David fought off lions and bears, not lions and wolves.
    3. And sometimes David did strike said animals with his hands and kill them. So he did have hand-to-hand combat training in fields and saw Goliath as just another animal who mocks God.
  • Mama Vee
    Goliath was 6.5 CUBITS...which means he was NINE feet and 7 inches. It says that his shield bearer went before him..the shield bearer was not leading him by the hand..he was carrying his shield. He made his defiance for 40 days...not at all a feeble man walking slow. And when he saw David it says, “He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him.” If he couldn’t see well then how would he know that David was glowing with health and was handsome?
    Also interesting to note that Goliath had a brother and three sons, also of gigantic proportions..they also had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. David did not pick up five stones for arbitrary reasons. He was prepared to kill Goliath as well as his brother and three sons, who may have been struck with desire for vengeance at seeing Goliath fall.
    Nice talk though...I especially like the acknowledgement of slingers as deadly accurate with the weapon. It is very true.
  • Dennis explorer
    I read this story when I was a kid in the Bible, if I remember correctly the giant fell forward, I think our heavenly Father gave the giant a little push forward, just a thought that I wondered about forever. God Bless, I love the fact that you are so knowledgeable about this story. I love the Bible. God has a sense of humour.
  • Mark H
    Oh wow! So Goliath of Gath was a champion. A killer! The person who “led” Goliath down to the valley floor was not a seeing eye dog, he was an armor bearer for a champion which was common practice for great warriors and kings. He said Goliath was only armed with weapons for close quarters combat, yet last I checked a spear and a javelin can be devastating at a pretty extreme distance. Also the Philistines would have been out of their minds to send a blind man with such a handicap to represent them against the nation of Israel.
  • Anthony Z
    When the guy said that the stone hit with the power of a 45 cal bullet, he was wrong. I did the math, double checked, triple checked. I even gave the sling a generous amount of length (the longer, the more powerful,) and gave it a high rpm spin to the sling. It was way off. 290 newton sling, vs 3500 newton bullet.
  • Deplorable Roy
    His faith in the Lord gave him the courage to be able to do what he had to do what he knew he could do
  • Victor McLeod
    Goliath had four brothers, all of whom were also Giants.
    It was also a standard practice for heavy infantry to be accompanied by an armor bearer, as recorded in the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer, single-handedly attacking a Philistine Garrison.
    When the Israelites first approached Canaan several hundred years earlier they were initially afraid to enter because it was a land full of giants.
    So while the story has an interesting spin to it, probably the giantism so, in the land was due to genetics, rather than pituitary malfunction.
  • While Mr Gladwell tells a good story and brings out very interesting data regarding the role in battle of slingers, he removes the miraculous element (which was so important for Biblical writers) and debases what was seen as an astounding feat (which was so important for David's myth). Additionally, would Israelite soldiers have been scared of a man who could barely see and could only move slowly? Would the Philistines have entrusted their military campaign to a man as crippled as Robert Wadlow?
  • Timothy Taylor
    This is a very good take on that event 👏. I heard a preacher say years ago that David had the courage to face him because of all the wild animals he had to fight off to protect his sheep. Defending his sheep established his faith and made him believe that he could take on Goliath.
  • Sam Kim
    Clearly, this man overthought and overlooked some important aspects about the story. First, were the army of Israel of that time all so stupid that they were so afraid of not-so-formidable giant who couldn't fight well? If Goliath was called the best warrior of Palestine, he must have fought many times and was tested and proven. Second, if sling was such a great effective weapon, why was it not used as a weapon commonly? Try as he may, Malcom Gladwell's attempt to belittle the miraculous story of David defeating Goliath seems to be a failure.
  • Howard Bricker
    I played with such a sling as a youngster of 10 or 11. At that time I weighed maybe 65 or 70 lbs. With such a sling I could throw a 12 Oz can full of wet sand the length of a football field. I wasn't very accurate, but you can be sure that that 12 Oz can was a deadly projectile. I've know most of my life that Goliath never had a chance even if he had been a champion Gladiator.
  • Corey Fischer
    Some other cool points are that Goliath was one of four giants (i might be one off in that) and you can go to their village and see that this village is built with stones that are multiple times heavier than the stone in the surrounding villages. (Watched Rhoda and Sergio's videos on Israel and they have a couple on the valley of Elah and Goliath's hometown).
  • A Mechealle
    I never saw David as an underdog. When I grew up hearing the story and they told how he defended his flock and I knew he was no one to mess with. Maybe it’s because I was raised around animals and know their capabilities when hungry or stressed. They are very fast, agile and sneaky. In order for David to be able to kill an hungry animal he would have to have a skill compatible to a trained warrior. Yes he was young but back in those days children didn’t just sit around all day they too had responsibilities. It dismays me that from the start people don’t give David the credit he is due. Youth doesn’t mean incapable.
  • that was so nice to hear - i always just heard David agains Goliath and this is so very well researched . it's a treat