Slingers (Shepherd’s Echo)

(The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen)

Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Goliath, how David slew the giant with nothing more than a mere “sling-shot” and a smooth stone sunken deep into the cranium. We are probably less familiar with the account of an elite corps of “slingers” from the tribe of Benjamin found in Judges 20:16, “Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.” It seems like an oddity to be sure, and were it not for every word being inspired in Scripture it may easily be overlooked. So what’s the deal here? There is not much to go on, but let’s take a shot.

This sling was comprised of a piece of cloth or leather with cords coming from each side. A stone, or ball was placed in the center and whipped around the head quickly generating speed. At such a time as desired, one of the cords was released launching the projectile at a deadly velocity towards its intended target. But again, what about these slingers themselves?

Well, the easy part perhaps is the number. Apparently, there was some powerful advantage to this group. I am guessing the number though was not as significant as the fact that they were left-handed, and that they were extremely accurate. The 700 of them formed a tight strategic lethal military arsenal. The fact that they could strike with such precision seems to be a given military benefit. But the peculiarity of this squadron is the fact that they struck with the left-hand; what is that all about?

First of all, we see that they were choice men. The Hebrew means that these were selected individuals. Whether they were taken as left-handed young boys to develop their skill, or they were taken as right-handed boys to develop an ability to strike with the opposite hand is unknown. My guess is that they were originally selected as youths because they were born left-handed.

So then we need to figure out why it was militarily superior to assemble this strike force with such unique abilities. My guess is that their greatest advantage in battle is that they were attacking the opponent’s unshielded side. Think about it- a right-handed warrior (the majority) in battle carried a shield in his left hand enabling him to attack with the right. The leftie, throwing from the opposite side would be more likely to slip a projectile through the “unprotected” side.

In effect, this unconventional southpaw would have kept the opponent off guard; in order for this foe to protect from the incoming offense (should he have had the presence of mind to know the ordinance is coming in from the unorthodox side) he would have had to traverse his shield across his body in an awkward manner, with somewhat lessened range of defense, and a compromised offense.

Keep in mind a well-slung stone could travel in excess of 200 miles per hour at a given warrior’s head, and carry its full force after 200 yards! With the accuracy described, all that was needed for one of these snipers was an opening, oh, say just a hair bigger than the stone itself, and THWACK! (That’s “article-speak” for “Ouch! I’m dead!” or, “Hey! There’s a rock in my head”).

So, who cares? What’s the point, Kelly? This isn’t like one of your other articles.

Okay. Fair enough. Here’s the deal. Historically, God’s people have been pretty consistently attacked, oftentimes greatly out-numbered. Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious, but in order to survive we need to be shrewder than the next guy, than our adversary. These slingers were just that!

Now, our battleground is not so much the bloody zones of blades and arrows, rather it is the battlefield of truth, and yet it is no less fierce or grizzly. Our goal, our aim is to convey surgically delivered salvos of truth and grace with such precision that they find their marks with such certainty so as to affect the hearts and minds of those lost.

In Matthew 10:16, Christ says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” We, as the people of God need to be clever, in order to survive and even thrive, in order to deliver that which has been entrusted to us. We are sent out into the hostile environment to represent the Gospel of Christ. We must do that in smart fashion, yet simple, and blameless before the world.

Go ahead! Give it your best shot!