Sling

Concise Bible Dictionary:

A simple weapon with which stones were thrown. It could easily be formed of a piece of leather with a small hole in the center, and having two strings attached. A stone was placed in the hole in the leather, and swung round forcibly, when, by releasing one of the strings, the stone would fly away. It was used by shepherds to keep off such animals as wolves; David had one with which he smote Goliath. We read of some who were so skilled in its use as to throw a stone to a hair’s breadth. It is mentioned among the weapons of war (Judg. 20:1616Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss. (Judges 20:16); 1 Sam. 17:40,5040And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40)
50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. (1 Samuel 17:50)
; 2 Kings 3:2525And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it. (2 Kings 3:25); 2 Chron. 26:1414And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. (2 Chronicles 26:14)). On the Egyptian monuments men are portrayed using the sling.

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

1. The shepherd carries a staff which he holds in the center. It is used not only as a support in climbing hills, but for the purpose of beating bushes and low brushwood in which the flocks stray, and where snakes and other reptiles abound. It may also be used for correcting the shepherd-dogs, and keeping them in subjection. Thus Goliath says, “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?” verse 43. This useful accompaniment of shepherd life is mentioned in Genesis 32:1010I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. (Genesis 32:10); Psalm 23:44Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4); Micah 7:1414Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. (Micah 7:14), and in other passages.
The sling was made of leather, or of plaited work of wool, rushes, hair, or sinews. The middle part, where the stone lay, was called the cup (caph), because of its cup-like depression. It was wider than the ends, but the sling gradually narrowed toward the extremities, so that it could be easily handled. In the Egyptian sling, which probably was the same as the Hebrew, there was a loop at one end which was placed over the thumb, in order to retain the weapon when the stone was hurled and the other end became free. The sling was used by shepherds to keep the beasts of prey from the flock, and also to keep the sheep from straying. Husbandmen likewise used it to drive away birds from the fields of corn. In war it was a formidable weapon in skillful hands. The Egyptian ginger carried a bag of round stones depending from his shoulder, as David did. The Assyrians, however, according to their sculptures, had lying at their feet a heap of pebbles, which they picked up as they were needed. In using the sling, the stone was put into the broad hollowed part, the ends were grasped together in the hand, and after a few whirls around the head to give impetus, the stone was discharged, frequently with force enough to penetrate helmet or shield.
A weapon so peculiar in its formation and so great in its power was appropriately referred to as an illustration of swift and certain destruction. Thus Abigail said to David, “The souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling” (1 Sam. 25:2929Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling. (1 Samuel 25:29)). Thus the Lord said to Jeremiah, “I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them” (Jer. 10:1818For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so. (Jeremiah 10:18)). The figure in both these passages is drawn. not from the destructive power of the sling, but from the ease and rapidity with which, by a practiced hand, the stone was hurled from it.
The Benjamites were so skillful in the use of this weapon that some of them “could sling stones at a hair breath, and not miss” (Judg. 20:1616Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss. (Judges 20:16)). The youthful David showed great skill, since he hurled the pebble with such aim and force that it smote the giant in the forehead and brought him to the ground (vss. 49-50).