Good morning. It is Wednesday, February 16, 2022.
As I drove to work early yesterday morning, I spotted a pair of glowing eyes ahead of me. Then two pair of glowing eyes.
It is not uncommon to see wildlife in the dark morning hours where I live. I have been living out in the country for close to 2 years now and I have seen all kinds of wild animals on my way to work. I have seen fox and coyotes. Many deer. Owls and raccoons. Lots of rabbits and possum. I even saw a bear one morning on Highway 199 near the Applegate River. So yesterday morning, I quickly wondered what wild critter I was coming up on and then I braked hard. Just ahead of me not one, but two black and whites, and we are not talking cop cars. Skunks; right in the middle of the road. One headed off the roadway, while the other walked right down the middle of the road like he owned it. His tail was standing straight up, and I let him know by my distance that I respected his decision to walk wherever he wanted.
I have often wondered why God gave some animals a form of self defense and others none. Skunks come to mind immediately when thinking of self defense but there are others.
The boxer crab has perhaps the most bizarre method of self-defense in the animal kingdom. If you do happen to swim by this unique marine creature, do not be fooled into thinking they are holding pom-poms. In fact, those are sea anemones which the crab uses as venomous boxing gloves! (Source: thedodo.com)
Another of nature's famous defense strategies is one that works particularly well. The opossum is not the most threatening of mammals, however, this American marsupial has a simple but effective way of protecting itself. Most of us would run in fear if being chased, but not these furry little things. Instead, the opossum plays dead. Under extreme fear they fall into an involuntary state of stillness fooling its predators into thinking it's dead. The hunter no longer sees the "dead" opossum as appealing and leaves it alone. Incredibly the opossum can then detect when the danger has passed and returns to life, as healthy as ever. A true miracle of nature! (Source: thedodo.com)
The Northern Fulmar is a bird that lives in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Sea. They are pelagic which means they live their lives entirely at sea, except for when they are breeding, which is when they are between 6 and 12 years old. The chicks are born on the side of a cliff or rocky surface and are at risk from predators like skua, sheathbills, foxes, rats and squirrels. This threat means they have come up with a pretty gnarly defense mechanism; they projectile vomit over whoever is trying to harm them. Yes, you heard that right. They produce a foul-smelling oil-like substance from the proventriculus part of their stomach which, if the smell alone does not work, will stick to the predator and not come off. For birds this can be deadly because their feathers get stuck together and they cannot fly. It also affects buoyancy so they can no longer float. (Source: nedhardy.com)
The Mimic Octopus, living mainly in Southeast Asia off the coast of Indonesia, is one of the most fascinating in the Octopus family. They live on a diet of fish, crabs, and worms, however they are also at risk from predators themselves. They have the same defense mechanisms as other octopuses, and they change their color and shape to camouflage themselves. However, the Mimic Octopus takes things to a whole new level. They can mimic other predators so that they do not get bothered. They will change their color, shape, movements and actions to mimic a predator that would not get bothered. It is the ultimate form of disguise and, although a specific number is not agreed upon, it is been said they can mimic upward of 10 predators. These include lionfish, banded sole and sea snakes. (Source: nedhardy.com)
Texas is home to three different species of horned lizard, including the Texas Horned Lizard and if a predator tries their luck and gets too close, they are going to get a face full of lizard blood. Yep. The lizard will shoot blood from its eyelids at the predator which tastes gross and is alarming enough to scare off even coyotes! (Source: nedhardy.com)
The Hairy Frog is a species of frog found in Cameroon and they have even made it into the news thanks to their bizarre form of defense. While other frogs might bulge their eyes to get a better view and avoid predators or secrete a poison onto their skin, the Hairy Frog had something else in mind. They literally break the bones in their toes so they can push the broken bones out of the skin and use them as claws! Pretty incredible, right? The only thing is scientists still are not sure what happens next. There is no muscle to pull them back in so do they stay out forever after that? Does the wound heal itself like other amphibians? There are a lot of unanswered questions. (Source: nedhardy.com)
All kinds of ants live in large colonies which makes them easy pickings for so many predators out there. Because of this, they have developed some pretty special defense mechanisms like sliding down a branch to safety, catapulting across trees or stinging and biting their attacker. The Malaysian Exploding Ant however takes a different and rather more extreme approach. They will warn the attacker first by lifting their rump in the air but if they do not back off it is go-time. A few of the small exploding ants then surround the attacker, bite on, and clench their abdomens so hard that they explode. Literally, they blow themselves up to save the colony. Now that’s teamwork! (Source: nedhardy.com)
The Bombardier Beetle is found on almost every continent, but they are far from common when it comes to their defense mechanism. They have an easy life and are largely left alone by all the usual predators of beetles because of their unique skill set. These beetles shoot a substance known as benzoquinone out of their hindquarters. This substance is not uncommon in the insect world, however the Bombardier Beetles take it to the next level by superheating it and shooting it five times faster than anyone else, like a jet. This noxious spray is super irritating and almost at boiling point so it is safe to say most predators will give the Bombardier Beetles a miss! (Source: Nedhardy.com)
The Mantis Shrimp is so cool. Like seriously. Growing between 6 and 12 inches, this relatively small crustacean can really pack a punch. They are stunning, with vivid bright colors all along its shell. They have 16 color receptors in their eyes, and to put this into perspective, humans have 3! The absolute coolest thing about this shrimp though is how it defends itself against predators and becomes a predator itself. They have two appendages under the front of their body which they can throw forward with the same velocity and impact as a 22-caliber rifle. Yes. A rifle. (Source: nedhardy.com)
Defense. Camouflage. Playing dead. Trickery. Physical features. Chemical features. Warning calls...God has given our animals amazing ways in which they can defend themselves.
When I think of defending, I think of David. I love the story of David and Goliath.
The song rings in my mind:
Only a boy named David, only a little sling.
Only a boy named David, but he could pray and sing.
Only a boy named David, only a rippling brook.
Only a boy named David, and five little stones he took.
And one little stone went into the sling and the sling went round and round.
And one little stone went into the sling and the sling went round and round.
And round and round and round and round and round and round and round.
And one little stone went up in the air and the giant came tumbling down.
This amazing story is found in 1 Samuel 17
Before we get started let me put a few things into perspective. Goliath was over 11 feet tall! He would not be able to stand straight in most of today’s houses. He was armed with a coat of mail that weighed about 157 pounds. The head of his spear alone weighed about 17 or 18 pounds. He was a giant of a man.
“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.
Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
Now David was the son of…Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul. The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle…David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul. But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.
Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”
Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For whom is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first ones did.
Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.
And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron. Then the children of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their tents. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.
When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?”
And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.”
So the king said, “Inquire whose son this young man is.” Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” So David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” NKJV
OH! What an amazing story! One of my all-time favorites. “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
God can take what little we have to offer and make it count. David had experience with but more importantly, he had faith. He knew God would deliver him.
How we live our life matters. We need to practice faith and trust. When trials come, and they will, put your life into God’s hands. He will defend us when the time is right. He will be our shield and buckler. There is safety in abiding in the presence of God.