Did you know a few strips of scrap leather and some ping pong balls can teach your kids a lot about identifying, developing and using their gifts from God? That’s right. You see the story of David and Goliath has a lot more to teach us than we generally realize, because we don’t understand a lot about shepherding and warfare in ancient Israel.
David was the youngest of a lot of boys. They were old enough to join the army fighting the Philistines. He was left at home to care for the family flocks. Your kids will be interested to learn the family wealth at the time was generally in their herds. Entrusting David to care for the flocks would be like you withdrawing all of your cash from the bank and giving it to your child to keep safe from being lost, stolen or eaten. (Okay, no one would probably eat your cash, but you see the point!)
One of the threats to the flock was being killed by wild animals. At the time, Israel still had wild lions and bears. David’s main weapon would have been his slingshot and stones. He probably spent a lot of time in the fields practicing his slinging – for both accuracy and speed. In fact, slinging properly could be so deadly armies had divisions of slingers. Studies have shown a properly thrown stone from a slingshot could hit someone with the same force as a bullet shot from a gun.
Now some may say this removes God from the story of David and Goliath, but I believe it does the exact opposite. Instead of God creating a momentary miracle (and He still might have given David’s stone an extra bit of power), God had David born into a family where he would be in a position to become a shepherd. Then he gave David opportunities to not only practice his slinging, but gave him two very scary opportunities to have to kill both a lion and a bear to protect the sheep. These incidents gave David opportunities to trust God and use the gifts God had given him to serve his family by protecting the sheep from being killed.
David on his part, recognized the gift of slinging (and the gift of music playing the harp/lyre which he also developed as a shepherd) God had given him and spent the time and effort to develop them to be ready to use when God wanted him to use them. He developed his faith in God. When the opportunity to fight Goliath arose, David was ready with a developed gift and a strong faith in God.
Now have your kids take a scrap of leather and cut it into an oval about three inches by an inch and a half. Take two long thin strips of leather. Punch small holes regularly in the top and the bottom of the sling. Thread one strip of leather along the top and the other through the bottom. Grab some pingpong balls as your “stones” (trust me, under NO circumstances should you allow them to use real stones with this sling).
Google how to use the sling, but basically you grab all four ends of the strips, wind up and then release two of the four strings. That should send the pingpong ball flying if done properly. Set up a fake “lion” target. After they have made several attempts and had some fun, talk about how much David would have had to practice to be able to accurately hit something from a distance.
Then do some talking about the gift(s) your children have been given by God to serve Him. How can they practice and develop those gifts so they will be ready to use them when God wants them to serve Him with those gifts? Tell them, just like David, God may want them to start using those gifts when they are young – not wait until they are adults. In fact, spend some time brainstorming all of the creative ways they can use their gifts to serve God. Identifying, developing and using the gifts God has given us is so vitally important. Start your kids on the right path early!