- The story of David and his battle with the giant Goliath has given hope to many people who are determined to face what seem to be insuperable odds. Goliath was a Philistine hero of gigantic size. In I Samuel 17:4, Goliath is described as being "six cubits and a span" (about 9 feet or 2.7 meters) tall. Goliath challenged the Hebrews under King Saul to single combat to determine the fate of their respective nations. For forty days no one took up the challenge, until the boy David obtained permission from Saul to fight the Philistine.The enormous Goliath and the stripling David met and faced each other. The giant waved his sword above his head, as though making a sign of defiance. David had in his hand a small slingshot and a little stone. David reeled back, hurled the stone at the giant, hitting him squarely on the forehead, and slew him. And then with Goliath's own sword, David cut off his head. The frightened Philistines were thus routed.From the biblical story, a goliath, in everyday language, is regarded as a giant. The name david is sometimes applied to small, seemingly powerless individuals or groups that confront someone or something much larger than they. The submarines of the Confederacy, in the Civil War, were called davids because they attacked the goliaths of the Union Army. Today an extremely large business organization may be described as a "goliath" in its sphere of operation. And an individual who performs outstandingly in any field, physical or cerebral, may be called a "goliath."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.