Click on the picture and look closely. Do you see the stones near the top? These are the remnants of what was once a city wall, and the hill is the remnant of the ancient city of Azekah. That’s important for one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament: that of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
It’s a nice little walk, up the hill, to the top of the “tell” (that’s what you call a hill that was once home to cities of the ancient world) but when you get there, you have a beautiful view of the Valley of Elah (second picture – click it to enlarge). Note the road snaking through the middle of the picture. The children of Israel camped just beyond the road on those hillsides. Goliath would have stood about where I am standing to survey the armies of Israel. Note that while the text talks about the Philistines on one hill and the Israelites on another, it’s fairly obvious the Philistines really occupied the high ground.
Having decided Goliath’s taunts were embarrassing to the extreme – and that the adults obviously weren’t going to act, David walked from the far side of the picture toward what is now the road. Note the ditch on the near side of the road. That’s the stream from which David chose five smooth stones and that’s where Goliath headed to meet the boy yelling: “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks? Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
It ended badly for Goliath of course. But when you’re living in your own Valley of Elah, and things look a bit desperate, remember the boy David. When God’s children, through faith, live in the name of the Lord Almighty, there is no reason to fear and every reason for a confidence the world may think borders on the insane. Victory is assured.