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David and Goliath: Building the teaching prop of Goliath, Dr. Terry Harman

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

I am often asked, “Where can I purchase the props shown on your website?” The short answer is I generally do not sell my props. I can share with you what inspired me to craft a prop and the steps that were taken to design and build the prop.

The building of Goliath came about as the result of facing a five-million-dollar lawsuit. My counseling practice and specifically me, was accused by an attorney of using my influence over a client to make the decision to fire him as an attorney and select another attorney after three weeks. The family was in a major accident that made national news. Every night the news featured a different aspect of the accident and the resulting injuries and death. I was the little guy “David” facing Goliath - a family of attorneys with many political connections. Millions of dollars were at stake in this settlement.

The most humiliating day in court turned out to be the turning point in the trial. The opposing attorney found my old website and decided to take one of the pictures and use it in a PowerPoint presentation every morning for three consecutive mornings. It was projected every morning when the court began and re-projected every afternoon when we returned from lunch. What was the attorney’s tactic?

The picture would show that I was a religious quack and faith healer who dressed up in ridiculous clothing. Here is the picture. It is me dressed up as Aaron the High Priest standing at the golden altar of incense in the Tabernacle of Moses.

Fortunately, my lawyer was able to show that the picture was taken out of context. But I was one person portrayed in the picture. However, I was not a religious quack, nor did I dress up in crazy-looking garb for my counseling sessions. On the stand, I was asked by my attorney to explain the picture. I simply stated I was fascinated by the study of the Tabernacle of Moses and the duties of the High Priest and the picture was part of a collection of graphics I was compiling for the future when I would one day film my teaching lessons and post them for others to learn.

Every day on my way to federal court in Chicago I would call one friend and ask him to pray for the truth to come out. Every day during the trial I would leave the courtroom and feel we lost. Why?

The Goliath family had several attorneys and from my point of view were using every dirty trick in the book. I had one quiet, meek, and mild attorney who graduated from Notre Dame. Each day he would calmly tell me, “The truth will come out. We do not have to play their game.” Now I must be truthful with you. Once the picture of the High Priest was displayed in the courtroom, I begged God, “Please Lord. I need a junkyard lawyer who is mean and nasty to rip to shreds the other side.” Fortunately, that prayer was not answered.

After two and a half years and a seven-day trial in federal court, I was found not guilty of any wrongdoing!

Every day on my way to federal court in Chicago I would call one friend and ask him to pray for the truth to come out. My friend did a prayer for the truth to come out, but he also told me to stand firm like David and not to lose heart! Every night I would read the story of David and Goliath to find encouragement. Once the trial was over the Lord placed on my heart to build a Goliath and then share what I learned from this ordeal.

If you read my blog, “When a Stoner Becomes a Hero," then you know the lessons I learned about that epic battle.

Building Goliath

The first step in the process was to take a toy model of a biblical character and use it as a reference point to turn the figure into a computer graphic using Adobe Illustrator.

Gilbert Contreras - Graphic Designer from Beryl Martin in Griffith, Indiana, 2009

The second step was to take the graphic and calculate the various dimensions of each part of the character – the height, width, and thickness of our character. In addition, we determined the relevant size of the spear, sword, sandals, shield, and helmet. I read everything I could get my hands on to determine what a Philistine warrior might look like during that period. I wanted the completed figure to look authentic while beefing up his bulk a bit to grab the attention and imagination of young audiences.

The third step was to enter all this data into a computer program and send it to the 12-foot hot wire Styrofoam cutting machine. Every calculation for each limb, foot, hand, and head was fed into the program. Then the magic of the hot wire began. The product was a series of cylinder-shaped and rectangular-shaped pieces of foam ready for shaping.

The body of Goliath began as an 8’ x 8’ x 8’ block of architectural Styrofoam.

The Birth of Goliath and the Hot Wire Machine

Hector "Rooster" Marin - Sculptor Cylinders cut from block Styrofoam

The skeleton of Goliath was made from steel tubing and his fingers were crafted from heavy gauge steel wire. The welder did a magnificent job of weight-balancing the steel skeleton to the exact stance generated by the computer program. The finished product had to be made so it would not tip over easily. In fact, the last test was to purposely try and tip over the skeleton! The position of the steel plate feet and the angle of the legs created a figure that withstands deliberate pushing and even strong winds.

My son Damon is pictured above. He's been involved in television production in Los Angeles for many years. We debate who stirred up the creative gift in who. I tell him I inspired it in you and you took it to the next level. He has a number of TV programs to his credit.

The fourth step was to split each section of the Styrofoam in half to prepare it to be hollowed out in the center to fit around the steel skeleton. The professional tools to do this carving and shaping? An old fork and shedding comb for animals! High-tech equipment!

The fifth step was to start carving details in the various parts of the body to make the statue as like-like as possible while still producing a fictional version of Goliath.

My wife Kim below appears to not be interested in the Goliath-making process! But she's always been supportive of her husband's unique passion for bringing the Bible alive through illustrated sermons.

The easiest yet most time-consuming part of the process was designing, attaching, and painting approximately 1,300 scales for Goliath’s armor. A laser cutter was used to cut out each individual scale from a 4’ x 8’ ¼ inch sheet of composite material. Then each scale was sanded and then attached directly to the Styrofoam. Industrial strength glue was used to ensure a snug fit as well as a small self-tapping screw.

We have almost 40 hours of work in making and attaching the scales. At one point I was so bored with sanding, gluing, and attaching fish-scale plates to the armor I decided I wanted to just do the front side and throw a cape over the back of Goliath so no one could see the back side not completed! But then Goliath would have looked like Superman, so I took a break and went back to it after the weekend.

The sixth step in the process was painting the flesh of Goliath and inserting pictures of actual eyes. The hair and beard are actual hair that I purchased from a local weave shop. I had such fun with the ladies at the weave shop when I described what I needed all the hair for. But as soon as I showed them a picture of the model of Goliath, they knew the story and fixed me up with the perfect materials.

The seventh step was making the shield out of scrap Styrofoam and crafting the sandals out of 5/8’ plywood and leather straps cut from a full sheet of armor leather. The 14’ spear was made from a wood pole with a 12 lb. spearhead crafted from plated steel. This took a tremendous amount of hammering and grinding.

John Martinez - Welder and Metal Craftsman The Tabernacle Man - Terry Harman

The eighth step was to apply a triple coat of Styro-1000 purchased from Smooth-On products. This is the shiny white coating in the picture. After this dried for 48 hours we applied gray auto body primer to seal the project.

Finally, the ninth step was to paint each part of the statue and finish off any details with airbrushing. Yes, that's copper paint. Many of you have commented that the "Bible says the coat of armor was made of brass or bronze plates." It is true many English translations state that translate Hebrew into brass or bronze. However, the Hebrew word used indicates the metal was copper.

In the future, I will post new blogs and process shots of other props created over the years. I hope you enjoy the reading. If you ever feel prompted to donate, please do so on my web page. Everything goes to building props. I do not take a salary from the ministry. I earn my income as a chaplain at a maximum-security prison and a few speaking engagements each year.

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