So this headline came up in my news feed:
Yesterday in Maine, David beat Goliath
The story is not important (it’s about grassroots gun rights groups prevailing against billionaire Michael Bloomberg). What stopped me cold was the headline. Let’s recap the original source material.
In 1 Samuel chapter 17, Goliath is the champion of the Philistines, Israel’s mortal enemy. His height is given as “six cubits and a span,” which is almost three meters (or 9 feet 9 inches) tall. Some manuscripts give his height as “four cubits and a span,” which at 6 feet 9 inches/two meters is still impressive. Suffice to say, the man is a beast. He taunts the army of Israel every day, challenging any one of their warriors to single combat. No one bites until David, visiting his older brothers on the front lines, picks up the gauntlet. The plucky shepherd from Bethlehem meets the heavily armored and armed Goliath on the field of battle, equipped with only a sling and five stones. He only needs one. David fells Goliath with one rock to the noggin, then slices off the giant’s head for good measure. Israel wins.
Anyone who’s attended Sunday School, watched Veggie Tales, or grew up in the Western Hemisphere knows this story. Here’s something else everyone knows: David won.
David and Goliath has become such shorthand for the little guy taking on big business/big government/big money, that people forget the outcome of the original battle. Rather than ironic, this headline just reads as “so what?”
Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, people are rethinking the idea that David was the underdog. He did have the Almighty on his side, after all. Which is probably why scrappy startups like to think of themselves as David.
Anyhow, we have no beef with David and Goliath as a metaphor for little guy vs. juggernaut. We do take exception to headline writers with no sense of history.
— Otto E. Mezzo