Chapter 28: David and Goliath – God’s Story
A picture is worth a thousand words, an adage used to describe meaningful images that convey a message better than a description could. The story of David and Goliath is from the Old Testament verse 1 Samuel 17. It is an underdog story filled with courage, intelligence, and triumph. Although quite gruesome, images of this story much better portray the true nature of just how much of an upset victory David’s was. The images I’ve chosen depict their battle from start to finish, the first showing David slinging his stone at Goliath, the second showing David standing tall atop of Goliath with Goliath’s sword in his hand preparing to decapitate him, and the third and final picture depicts David victorious with the head of Goliath in his hand. Each image has similarities and differences to the passage from the size and shape of the characters, the details of the battle, and the overall message the images illustrate.
The size and shape of David and Goliath is one of the most important parts of their story which is why it is crucial to get these factors right when creating an illustration of their battle. The first image does a decent job of this, David is significantly smaller than Goliath, but Goliath does not seem look too strong. In this picture he only looks tall which does not fit the description of him in the Old Testament where he carries a fifteen pound spearhead making him an extraordinarily strong man. The illustrators got the height correct, but Goliath should be much bigger at his shoulders and arms. This can be seen in the second photograph where David is once again significantly smaller than Goliath, but in this picture we can see the width of Goliath and understand how someone so large could have wielded a fifteen pound spear. The third picture depicts the sizes the best of the three. Although the muscles on David are exaggerated and his body figure is better drawn in the second image, David holding Goliath’s head in this photo shows us up close just how much bigger Goliath really was. His fallen body is massive with an arm more than twice the size of one of David’s legs and a head more than four times the size of David’s. Many details other than their size impact this story in the pictures whether they follow the story or not.
The first picture brings the overall battle of the Israelites and Philistines to life with slight exaggeration. This image shows a massive battle with almost every single head turned to them right as David’s stone struck Goliath. Nowhere in the passage does it say that this happened, but this detail makes the picture much more powerful by solidifying the shock surrounding the scenario. Considering their size, seeing David take down Goliath and decapitate him was not a normal occurrence for the Philistines or the Israelites. This was the Philistines strongest soldier versus an unknown sheep herder of the Israelites, and no one expected this outcome. The first image also uses the details of clothing to compare to the text and portray the surprise factor of this fight, the Israelites are dressed as sheep herders and the Philistines have full armor and weapons. This detail directly correlates with the text. The second image does well to keep the details parallel to the passage. The Old Testament reads, “Then David ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith.” This picture shows David standing over Goliath with Goliath’s sword in his hand ready to behead the giant, just as it is written. The final image displays David holding Goliath’s severed head, this picture has extreme amounts of detail from David’s muscles to every curl of Goliath’s hair. These details are not included in the Old Testament, yet they help to liven the story without saying any words, and that is what these pictures are all about, conveying the message written in the Old Testament in a way that words cannot.
The first image transmits a theme of shock, awe, and courage. The illustrators decided to capture the moment in which David struck Goliath with a stone from a slingshot. They drew people on both sides of the battle staring directly at the two, surprised that such a small man who could take down the beast that was Goliath. The image makes it seem as if David was supposed to be on this battlefield, but he was not. David is barely recognizable to the Israelite leader and people, yet he steps up for his country with only his faith in God by his side. Although the picture is not exactly how the passage tells the story, the illustration helps a viewer to truly understand the significance behind the defeat of Goliath. The soldiers on both sides are also watching in fear because of the wager Goliath had placed on the battle, “choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and kill me, then will we be your servants; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” This is shown in the triumphant second image where the Philistine soldiers are visibly afraid whilst David stands mighty atop Goliath ready to remove his head from his body. Goliath himself can also be seen hurting and scared, unexpectedly in this situation where a man three times smaller than him will be the one to kill him in front of his entire army. This image is similar to text in how it crowns David as the hero of the story as he decapitates Goliath. The third photograph is exactly alike to the text, David cuts off the head and carries it back to Saul, the lead of the Israelites. The picture shows David heading to Saul with the head in hand ready to prove his victory. The message conveyed by this is one of fearlessness in both the passage and the illustration.
Overall, the images seem to be accurate yet conflicting in their own ways. The story of David and Goliath is a complicated one, passed down thousands of years so the details often become misconstrued and a lot of them are simply just up to interpretation. Images of this tale do speak more to viewers nowadays more than words connect with readers simply because of the vocabulary used in the Old Testament. Because of this, it is important that we analyze these images and discuss their accuracy so the story that has been preserved for generations is sustained.
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