David’s Sonic Boom Powered Shepherd’s Sling

Recently I discovered that a shepherd’s sling (probably very similar to the one that David used to kill Goliath) can hurl a stone so hard and fast that the stone can actually break the sound barrier and create a mini sonic boom! That is so cool! This discovery immediately made me think about David and Goliath.

Here is the Biblical account of David using his sling to kill Goliath.

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. ( 1 Samuel 17:40 NASB)

Smooth stones are an important detail because they have an aerodynamic shape and provide the least amount of wind resistance which allows the projectile to (a) travel at a faster rate and (b) improve accuracy. The words used to describe David’s pouch and sling also support the idea that he used the shepherd’s sling that we know today.

“48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. 50 Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.” (1 Samuel 17:48-50 NASB)

According to the research I have done, the forehead is a thick and very strong piece of bone that helps to protect the brain. For a stone to sink into Goliath’s forehead it would have been traveling at quite a fast rate of speed and been very accurate (i.e. the importance of having smooth stones). From what I have read and watched, a skilled person is able to launch a stone with a shepherds sling so fast that it can actually break the sound barrier and create a sonic boom! The sling seems more like a high powered sniper rifle than a kids toy! Make no mistake about it, this was a very deadly weapon and David was highly trained to use it. This is how David was able to produce enough speed and momentum to kill Goliath and to cause the stone to sink deep into his forehead.

Below you will find a video where a guy is able to hit watermelons with a shepherds sling. It is super impressive and I am sure I couldn’t even get close to his talent, but at the end it says that he took 17 shots at 3 target, that’s about a 17% success rate if I understand these numbers correctly.

Well, David had a lot more pressure on him (his own life was in the balance, he was young, his brothers mocked him, Saul really didn’t seem very confident, the entire army of Israel was watching etc.) and he had pinpoint accuracy, this leads me to believe that he was an expert at handling and using this deadly weapon.

Here are some other references to this type of sling or similar in the Bible:

Used to describe highly skilled military men using it as a weapon of war

Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. (Judges 20:16 NASB)

They were equipped with bows, using both the right hand and the left to sling stones and to shoot arrows from the bow; they were Saul’s kinsmen from Benjamin. (1 Chronicles 12:2 NASB)

Moreover, Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones. (2 Chronicles 26:14 NASB)

Used to describe the strength of Leviathan, not even sonic powered slingstones can hurt him!

“The arrow cannot make him flee; Slingstones are turned into stubble for him. (Job 41:28 NASB)

Here are some actual videos which show this phenomena, the “crack” or “pop” you hear is the mini sonic boom that is produced by the rock breaking the sound barrier.

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The Impact of a “Little” Sin – Achan (Joshua 6-7)

I was struck this morning by the deceptiveness and heaviness of sin in the account of Achan (Joshua 6-7). Achan directly disobeys the command to not take anything under the ban. He takes a couple of small trinkets. He probably rationalizes it and thinks it’s a small thing, who cares? Well, God cares.
Here are some of the consequences:
  • 36 men died in the battle against Ai because of Achan’s sin
  • the people’s (Israel) hearts melted, previously other nations are said to have their hearts melted because God was helping Israel
  • God held entire nation responsible (see 7:11)
  • God threatens that He will not be with them anymore (this is a frightening proposition when you consider that they just crossed the Jordan because of God and defeated the great city Jericho because God was with them and on their own they couldn’t defeat little Ai)
  • whole nation has to go through the process of finding out who is responsible. If they are anything like we are today (remember they are described as a stiff-necked people), I bet there would have been some false accusations in the process among the people and untold trouble in this process all because Achan saw, lusted, and took.
  • Achan’s whole family is stoned and burned. Not only is this bad for Achan’s family but also for the people. I’m sure this was not a fun experience for Israel to go through this process. Have you ever stoned someone? This would not an enjoyable experience. You have to throw big enough stones hard enough to kill someone and there were multiple people. This would have been heartbreaking because they also had to stone his wife his sons and his daughters. Even if they all helped him hide the stuff and were guilty this is a very difficult experience. I’m sure they all would have begged for their lives to some degree.
Personal Application:
  • God is not OK with my sin
  • There is no such thing as an innocent or “little” sin
  • Sin is not to be played with
  • Sin is evil
  • Sin has consequences
  • Sin is worse than I think it is. -Sin is not my friend
  • My sin doesn’t just affect me
  • I cannot hide my sin
  • Sin is deceptive
  • Sin is deadly
  • Sin may bring momentary pleasure but it ends in death (“Why would you trade a drop of pleasure for a sea of wrath?” – Thomas Watson)
  • Sin begins with the eyes and mind before it shows up in the actions (Achan saw, coveted and then took. Just like Eve in the garden. Just like James 1:12-17)

Understanding Balaam – Numbers 22-24

In my daily reading I am currently in the book of Numbers and I just finished the chapters on Balaam and Balak in chapters 22-24. Balaam has always been a little confusing to me. On the surface, he seems to say some good things but we know from the book of Jude that he is not put forward in a good light and is even classified with Cain and Korah. I was struggling to combine this truth with the fact that he seems to only say what the LORD tells him and on a surface level he seems to do what he is supposed to. With all of this in view, I decided to bring in a helpful resource. The following quotes are all taken from the Preach the Word commentary on the book Numbers by Rev. Dr. Iain Duguid.

I am cataloguing these comments here for my own personal benefit and future reference, maybe they will be of benefit to you as well. I also encourage you to obtain this resource, it has been a great benefit to my own study of Scripture.

THE DONKEY HAD MORE INSIGHT THAN THE SEER (CH 22)

“Here is a man who is a professional seer, the kind of person who makes a living discerning messages from God in places where other people see only random tea leaves and miscellaneous flights of birds; yet he cannot see the angel of the Lord when he stands there in plain sight in front of him! His donkey can see the Lord’s messenger, but Balaam cannot. Moreover, here is a man who has been hired to travel some distance in order to harm an entire nation — Israel — with the mere power of his spoken word; yet when a simple donkey makes a fool out of him, he is reduced to beating her with a stick and uttering empty threats. He has no power to curse her by turning her into a frog or a pumpkin! The world famous super-prophet is both spiritually blind and unable to inflict harm, while a mere donkey whose mouth has been opened by the Lord is able to see the truth clearly and speak it out in a way that delivers from death (my emphasis). The scene forms a wonderfully humorous picture.”

“Ironically, at the very same time that Balaam was threatening his donkey with death if he only had a sword in his hand, his own master had been standing over him with a drawn sword. Only the donkey’s faithfulness had saved him from death (my emphasis).”

“His heart was still captive to his idolatry, and even a face-to-face encounter with the Angel of the Lord did not free him from its chains. At the end of the day his donkey saw the Lord more clearly than he did; the brute beast understood more of God than the professional theologian. (my emphasis)“

THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL COUNTERFEITS (CH 23-24)

“That is always the way it is with spiritual counterfeits: they make grandiose claims for themselves and promise to give us substantial rewards, yet in the end they turn out to be expensive, uncertain, and ultimately impotent. There is neither blessing nor curse to be found in psychics or mediums, in astrology or horoscopes, or in any other source than the one true living God. These spiritual counterfeits have no power to affect either the present or the future.”

“In fact, the same is true of all of the many created things to which we offer allegiance as our idols. They are all ultimately equally impotent to bless or to curse. Some seek their value in money and possessions, but wealth cannot make us genuinely worthwhile as persons, and its absence cannot rob us of our dignity. Others look to power for their validation, but power cannot fulfill us, and its loss cannot make our lives meaningless. Still others invest the approval of people with ultimate significance, but gaining the love of a particular person is not where our value lies, nor will we be destroyed if they are taken from us, however painful that loss may be. None of these created things can make or break us, even though we continually act as if they can. The power that we ascribe to these idols that we have set up for ourselves is evident in the way we pour ourselves so devotedly into pursuing their demands and are so wrapped up in fears of their loss. We would willingly go to the ends of the earth to do their bidding, and we regularly sacrifice on their altars whatever they demand. They fill our dreams and our nightmares, and they shape our expenditures and our relationships. They are profoundly expensive masters, both in financial terms and in terms of the turmoil that they create in our souls. Yet in the end, like all idols, they are impotent to deliver what they promise or threaten. (my emphasis) UNLIKE OUR GOD!

“In dramatic contrast to the expensive, uncertain, and ultimately impotent search for blessing and curse through spiritual counterfeits and the idols of our hearts, there is the free, certain, and effective way to blessing through Israel’s God. Israel did not have to pay Balaam or offer special sacrifices to receive a word of blessing from the Lord through him. On the contrary, the Lord had already freely committed himself in advance to bless Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:2, 3). The Lord had already told the Aaronic priests to pronounce his blessing regularly on the people, without any fee changing hands (my emphasis) (Numbers 6:24-27). Balaam’s words of blessing were simply a reflection of the Lord’s settled attitude toward his people. As Balaam himself put it, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it” (23:19, 20). Human beings are fickle and changeable creatures, but when the Lord declared a people blessed, they were indeed blessed.”(my emphasis)

“These oracles of Balaam, which declare not merely positive present realities but a glorious future yet to come, are most certainly true because the Lord’s sovereign power extends beyond the present into the future. What man cannot predict — what the future holds — the Lord is able to declare, because he himself holds the future in his hands (my emphasis)Even sickness, disease, and the schemes of evil men are not exempt from his sovereign will to bless his people. For that reason, when Jesus and his disciples encountered a man who had been born blind, Jesus explained that this personal tragedy had happened precisely so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (John 9:3). That man’s disability was not an accident of fate: it was part of God’s plan to display his glory. In fact, even the most wicked act of history, the crucifixion of Jesus, was the result of God’s set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). God’s sovereignty does not free human beings from their responsibility for their acts, but it does assure us of the certainty that his purposes of blessing and curse will assuredly come about. Who but the Lord has the power to foretell what the distant future holds? Who but the Lord holds that future in his hands?” (my emphasis)

CONCLUSION

“When you even out the merely temporary fluctuations in the fortunes of people and nations, there are ultimately only two fates offered in this world. There is the Lord’s blessing leading to a flourishing life and an enviable death or the Lord’s curse leading to defeat and ultimate destruction.”

2 Samuel 24 “David Counts the People”

At the end of his life David falls again. As I catch myself thinking “what a stupid move there David” I was immediately convicted. I am just like David. I sin in similar ways (if not worse) over and over and just like David, I find myself confessing and repenting of sins and begging God for mercy.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t only show us the sin of David it also tells us about his repentance. It’s good to remember that David didn’t sin and then never deal with it. When David sinned, he also repented (though sometimes not as quickly as he should), and he often repented in big public ways.

Here in 2 Samuel, David numbers the people. Joab tells him it’s a bad move but David moves forward. Something for me to learn there. When others who are around me throw up red flags of caution, I should listen. If David would have stopped and considered the advice of those around him throughout his life he could have avoided so many problems.

Israel had 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword and Judah had 500,000. Together that’s 1.3 million. I wondered how that compares with our military here in the USA and per Wikipedia that’s about the size of our military without the reserves. That’s a big army for them!

What’s the takeaway?

The military was huge! Compare the country size of the USA with Israel. The USA is much larger and yet Israel had roughly the same size military. For that country it would have probably been an obvious fact that their military was very large. Plus, they had won many wars. Plus, they had a warrior as their king. Plus, all those who were David’s closest friends were his “Mighty Men” (i.e. military). It would have been obvious that the military was healthy and the country was blessed by God and it was doing well. Yet, David wanted to number them. David wanted the stats. David wanted the details. This only happens when you desire to boast about something. You never want the details of an event that was embarrassing, but if someone mentions that someone else said something positive about us we cry out “tell me more!” It was a total pride issue. Maybe even along the lines of Nebuchadnezzar “Is this not Babylon the great which I have built” (Daniel 4:30).

Application: I need to be on guard of the same pride when God works in my life or uses me in someone else’s. It is only by His grace and it needs to be for His glory alone, not my own.

The Doctrine of Concurrence
There is also one more important illustration from this chapter and it is the doctrine of Concurrence. Here is a helpful definition of concurrence:

“The doctrine of concurrence affirms that God directs, and works through, the distinctive properties of each created thing, so that these things themselves bring about the results that we see. In this way it is possible to affirm that in one sense events are fully (100 percent) caused by God and fully (100 percent) caused by the creature as well. However, divine and creaturely causes work in different ways. The divine cause of each event works as an invisible, behind-the-scenes, directing cause and therefore could be called the “primary cause” that plans and initiates everything that happens. But the created thing brings about actions in ways consistent with the creature’s own properties [which God unchangeably gave and sustains], ways that can often be described by us or by professional scientists who carefully observe the processes. These creaturely factors and properties can therefore be called the “secondary” causes of everything that happens, even though they are the causes that are evident to us by observation.” (Reference:  Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, Zondervan, http://www.zonderan.com, 1999, p. 145.)

You can also listen to this message on Concurrence by RC Sproul, click here.

Why is 2 Samuel 24 such a good illustration of this doctrine? Because multiple persons are said to be involved with the act of numbering the people. Here take a look:

God is said to be involved

Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)

Satan is said to be involved

“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:)

David is shown to  be responsible

“Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army” (2 Samuel 24:4)

“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” (2 Samuel 24:10)

“Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”” (2 Samuel 24:17)

So who was is that moved David to number the people? Was is God? Was is Satan? Or was it David? The answer is YES! All three are involved. God had a sovereign plan for David’s good and God’s glory (Rom 8:28, Gen 50:20). Satan wanted to tempt David to sin (Job 1, Matthew 4). David is responsible and decided to sin on his own (Gal 6:4-5, Rom 14:10-12, James 1:12-16).

For more on this issue please see my post on trials and temptations.

Grace to you and peace…

Is This Not Bathsheba?

This is a good reminder that not only does sin blind and cause us to do insanely stupid things but it also causes those we sin against to do things that are foolish and insane. Sin is deceptive. Sin is deadly.

Sin never affects only us. Whether done in private or in public, sin always spills over and stains the lives of those around us.

When David sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) it began with a look, a quick glance. The glance turned into a lustful stare and the stare led to a summons and the next thing you know Bathsheba is pregnant and Uriah, one of Davids Mighty Men, is being murdered.

This sinful chain of events didn’t just affect Bathsheba and Uriah and David. Yes those were three key players but there was a whole slew of people affected. Those who warned David, those who went and called Bathsheba to come to the Palace, those who helped David try to goad Uriah into going home and sleeping with his wife to cover up David’s sin, Joab who had to enforce David’s death wish on Uriah, and the list goes on. Sin is deceptive, it downplays how bad your sin really is.

In this post we are going to examine how David’s sin affected those related to Bathsheba. You see, Bathsheba was part of a very connected family, a family that was deeply involved in David’s government and military. So when David asks who she is, those around him simply drop the names of her family members in hopes that once he hears who she is related to, he will stop his pursuit. Let’s take a look.

“Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

1) We find out that Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam. Later in 2 Samuel we find out that Bathsheba’s dad, Eliam, was one of Davids Mighty Men. (2 Samuel 23:34) So Bathsheba’s dad is one of David’s most faithful and trusted men. A warrior. A man who fought for and with David. A man who probably hid and protected David when Saul was pursuing him. At this point, David should have taken a moment to stop and set his mind on things that are true and pure, to put off his lustful thoughts and put on thoughts of purity and righteousness. Red flags should be waving and sirens should be going off alerting him to the danger he is inviting, but they don’t.

We need to learn from David here. Do not be like David in this situation. When others are warning you and your conscience is screaming at you to stop you need to stop. Don’t let sin cloud your thinking. Mortify your sin. Kill your sin before it kills you.

2) According to 2 Samuel 23:34 the father of Eliam is Ahithophel. This makes Ahithophel Bathsheba’s grandfather. Again, red flags, sirens and blinking lights should be going off at this point! Ahithophel was one of Davids closest counselors. It is said of Ahithophel that his counsel was so good it was “as if one inquired of the word of God” (2 Samuel 16:23)

But after the defiling of his granddaughter (Bathsheba) and the murder of his grandson-in law (Uriah), he turns against David and helps support Absalom’s revolt and seeks vengeance against David until the day he dies.

In 2 Samuel‬ ‭16:21‬ ‭Ahithophel seemingly tries to get specific shaming revenge on David and says to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.” No doubt Ahithophel is trying to pay David back for what he did to his granddaughter. This also happens to fulfill what God told David would be a consequence for his sin (Samuel 12:9-12)

Ahithophel never gets his revenge and ends up becoming so depressed that he commits suicide. A sad end. David is not first hand responsible for this but he certainly played a part. This is a good reminder that not only does sin blind and cause us to do insanely stupid things but it also causes those we sin against to do things that are foolish and insane. Sin is bitter. Sin is deceptive. Sin is deadly.

3) Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was also one of Davids Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:39). As we saw with Bathsheba’s father Eliam, Uriah was a faithful active duty soldier for David. In fact, while David was lounging around the palace, Uriah was out doing battle for David. And yet David was so blinded by his sin that he takes Uriah’s wife and sleeps with her and ends up killing this faithful and loyal friend. Sin clouds our thinking. Sin is a liar. Sin is a deceiver.

So when they tell David “Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” they are really saying “Isn’t that Bathsheba the granddaughter of Ahithophel your great counselor? And isn’t that Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam one of your Mighty Men who has faithfully stood by you through all these years? And isn’t that Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who is also one of your Mighty Men and who is out fighting in one of your battles this very day?”

It’s startling how blind and stupid lust made David, he was able to ignore all that he knew and all the people who would be hurt who had been so loyal. Sin is so deceptive.

The same thing happens to you and I. Be on guard. Hate sin. Kill sin. As John Owen says “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

Daily Reading Mark 12 & 13

The religious leaders are afraid of the people and what they think (Mark 11:32, 12:12).

But in stark contrast Jesus has this reputation “They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth….” (12:14‬). Jesus was bold for the truth.

12:26 Jesus banks His entire argument on the tense of a word (I AM). This is big evidence for the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. Jesus had such a high view of the reliability of Scripture that He took into account not only the accuracy of the words but the tenses of the words.

12:36 “David himself said in the Holy Spirit…” here is evidence of the Inspiration of Scripture. David wrote Psalm 110 “in the Spirit”. See also 2 Peter 1:21.

12:40 don’t be like the Scribes who do religious acts “for appearance sake” – they are like the cursed fig tree in 11:13 which has an appearance of fruit bearing but not a reality.

Chapter 13 Jesus talks about things to come and His future return. Multiple times we are told to “be on you guard” or “take heed” and “be on the alert”. A good reminder for today.

13:31 Jesus says ““Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” That’s a significant statement. Jesus words are more enduring than creation. That puts His words in the same category as Gods words “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” ‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬).