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"Is there a man?"
By Jim Vasquez
They've not forgotten o'er the years,
These men of Israel,
The day our God rose up to fight,
The day Goliath fell.
And as I've listened to their tales,
Of what occurred, and when,
It seems each time they leave out God,
And glory give to men.
But I recall the day undimmed,
In memories of youth,
Just how the day began and how,
It found its end, in truth.
"Twas early when my father called,
And took me from the sheep,
And sent me to my brothers where,
Their vigil they did keep.
And with the army of King Saul,
Upon the mountain's height,
They waited in full readiness,
The enemy to fight.
For 'cross the valley and atop,
Another mountain stood,
The army of the Philistines,
As staunch as any could.
I found my brothers and relieved,
My arms of what I'd brought,
Some roasted grain and bread which would,
Renew their strength, I thought.
But as we spoke there came upon,
The ranks of Israel,
A fear so great it seemed that naught,
Its presence could dispel.
And then I heard a voice behind,
I turned and there I saw,
A giant quickly striding forth,
And I beheld in awe.
The colors of the Philistines,
He wore beneath his vest,
With javelin slung across his back,
And thick his armored breast.
"Is there a man in Israel,"
I heard him loudly cry,
"Who will his sword and shield take up,
To fight, perhaps to die?
"Now send him forth and let him prove,
With chosen arms in hand,
That he, not I, will stand at last,
And you will rule this land."
His voice resounded through our ranks,
Quite terrible as his mien,
I never dreamed to see such height,
Nor ever since have seen.
And little wonder, thought I then,
Just why our host so feared,
To see this giant of a man,
Grow larger as he neared.
But as I heard this Philistine,
And pondered what he said,
It was not we he ridiculed,
But God he mocked instead.
"This infidel uncircumsized,
Before whom we are awed,
Will he not cease defying now,
The armies of our God?"
I spoke these words without restraint,
To any, one and all,
And soon was taken to a tent,
And knelt before King Saul.
"Your servant shall this villain fight,"
I said before his throne,
"And with the help of God once more,
A victory you'll own."
But he was doubtful and replied,
That I was far too young,
While since his early warrior years,
Goliath's praise was sung.
"Your servant is a shepherd, true,
But quite a handy one,
I've faced the greatest dangers and,
Have not been known to run.
"E'en when a bear or lion came,
And threatened my poor flock,
Pursuing with my sling in hand,
I felled it with a rock.
"Or if that failed to kill the beast,
I grabbed it by the hair,
And drawing, then, my well-honed sword,
I deftly slew it there.
"And now, O king, I promise you,
This mammoth beast from Gath,
Shall meet a corresponding fate,
For standing in your path."
With this, the king, at last convinced,
Did send me off to fight,
And dressed me in his armor which,
Was anything but light.
I quickly threw it off and then,
With staff and stones in hand,
Went forth to meet Goliath who,
Defiant there, did stand.
Now when he saw I was a boy,
Though handsome, ruddy-faced,
He cursed me by his gods because,
He felt, no doubt, disgraced.
"And who is this who comes to me,
And stick in hand does wield,
The birds," he said, "shall eat your flesh,
And beasts from yonder field,"
"With sword and spear and javelin,
You come to me," I said,
"But with th'Almighty's help today,
I'll separate your head.
"And all the world will know that God,
In Israel does reign,
When they observe beneath my sword,
Your prostrate body, slain."
"The battle is the Lord's whom you,
Have spitefully defied,
Thus you and all your host will die,
And that by eventide."
And somehow then was giv'n to me,
A strength I did not own,
I ran to give him battle and,
Unleashed the fateful stone.
And square upon the forehead was,
He struck and not a moan,
Escaped his lips as he came down,
And moved not flesh or bone.
His thousands then let out a cry,
Of fear, of great dismay,
But what they saw directly, then,
Quite took their breath away.
I ran and gathered in my hand,
This giant's cumbrous blade,
And with a single, deadly stroke,
A farewell to him bade.
Now at the sight his army turned,
Each soldier, to a man,
In total disarray and dread,
They dropped their arms and ran.
And Israel joined in hot pursuit,
With Judah close beside,
And hip and thigh they smote the foe,
And left no place to hide.
Was there a man? I ask in words,
The enemy first used,
Who dared to fight when others had,
Their timorous selves excused?
No man was found to answer there,
Instead, there was a boy,
Whose faith in God enabled us,
This triumph to enjoy.
from the September 2001 Edition of the Jewish Magazine