1 Samuel 17
-The Philistines gathered again to oppose the armies of the Living God in Israel. The Philistines gathered at Socoh, a Judean area, and the camped between Socoh and Azekah in Ephes-dammim. Saul and his men were assembled and camped in the valley of Elah to the southeast of the Philistines. The Philistines controlled one mountain while Israel stood on their mountain on the other side with a valley between them (1 Samuel 17:1-3).
-“Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span (over 9 feet tall).” This gargantuan wore a bronze helmet, was clothed in scale-armor weighing 5,000 shekels of bronze, and had shin guards of bronze with a javelin slung between his shoulders. This dude was indeed an intense and imposing figure. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and head of it weighed a hefty 600 shekels of iron. If that was not enough intimidation, he had a shield-carrier who also walked before him in protection (1 Samuel 17:4-7). He would stand and shout at the Israeli army with taunts trying to draw them down to battle with him. He wanted a one-on-one encounter. If someone could kill him, the promise was that the Philistines would become Israel’s servants. However, if he killed his opponent, Israel would serve them as servants. He defied the ranks of Israel, and craved this battle with boasting and arrogance. “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid,” much like their ancestors when the ten spies observed giants in this same land of Promise (Numbers 13, 1 Samuel 17:8-11). This was a petrifying and stifling anxiety.
-Now we learn of David and his growing involvement in the national life of Israel as he stood in the strength and courage of the anointing of the LORD God Almighty. The son of Jesse, who by this time was an aged man, was instructed to take provisions to Saul and his three oldest brothers, who were at the battle line with the Israeli army. He was also a messenger for their well-being during this time. The family needed to know how the boys were doing. For 40 days, Goliath came forward morning and evening to take his stand and demand a challenger to his awesome brawn. Leaving the flock with a keeper, David rose early in the morning to take the supplies as his father had commanded him. He came to the circle of the camp just when the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. Both sides stood opposing one another. The excitement drew David to leave his baggage in the care of a servant keeper, and he ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. As he was conversing with them and checking up on their well-being, “the champion,” the Philistine from Gath, Goliath, came out from the enemy’s ranks and spoke his taunting words in the hearing of young David. David observed the fear and trepidation of the Israeli army as they fled the opposer in great fear. He was informed of the reward for the person who would challenge him and defeat this mammoth. The king would enrich the one who killed Goliath. Saul would even give him his daughter in marriage and make his father’s house “free” (taxes and public service) in Israel. David upped the ante, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the Living God?” This really irritated his oldest brother, Eliab, who was part of the pageantry of fear. His anger burned against young David, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.” This was the spirit of accusation at its finest. David replied like so many other brotherly scenarios down through the annuals of time, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?” He kept right on talking and showing confidence in the situation. He did not back down, nor show a spirit of fear (1 Samuel 17:12-30).
-Soon enough, the assured words of David were relayed to King Saul, and he sent for David, the shepherd boy. David passionately told the king not to let his heart fail, for he would go and fight with this ungodly Philistine. Saul showed no confidence in him initially. He spoke negatively claiming rightly that he was just a youth in comparison to Goliath’s vast warrior experience from his own youth. Undaunted by the situation, David displayed no fear of man as he stated, “Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” This passage shows the preparation stage of David’s life, and how God was using his every experience to mold him into the best military leader Israel would ehave. He went on, “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the Living God. 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.” At this, Saul did not try to dissuade him any further as he said, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” Saul even tried to help out by giving the youth his garments for war. But, remember that Saul was head and shoulders taller than anyone else in Israel. David was just a youth, and the armor did not fit properly. As David tried to gird this gear with his sword and walk, the test failed, for David was not use to them. David then took these garments off and went with what he knew. He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook. These stones he placed in his shepherd’s bag, plus he had an all-important sling in his hand. He approached the mighty Goliath with just a stick, a sling and five smooth stones. As the Philistines approached with his shield-bearer in front of him, he observed the young, ruddy, handsome David and mused, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” He cursed David by his false gods and told him that he would soon give his young flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field. But David confidently replied, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and He will give you into our hands.” How about that trash talk and reply? Intimidation did not work with David; his faith and call was genuine. David “ran quickly” toward the battle line when Goliath arose to come draw near to meet him. With decisive action he put his hand into his bag and took out a stone. Then he put it in his sling and slung it right at the Philistine’s head. Bullseye!!! The stone smacked Goliath right in the forehead, the only place he was vulnerable. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell flat on his face to the ground. “Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistines and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.” Not a bad arm. If he was born in this time he might have had a major league baseball pitching career J. Quickly, David ran and stood over the vanquished foe. He then took the giant’s sword out of its sheath and finished him off for good by cutting off his head with it. Seeing all this transpire, the Philistines fled with the men of Israel and Judah rising to pursue them with valiant shouts. They chased them all the way to Ekron, a stronghold city of the Philistines to the west. Dead bodies fulfilled David’s prediction as they lay strewn out along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. As the sons of Israel returned from their chase, they plundered the Philistines deserted camps. For David, he took Goliath’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he kept the giant’s weapons in his own tent (1 Samuel 17:31-54).
-In an aside that seems to be out of sequence with the narrative, Saul asks his uncle and commander of his army, Abner, whose son this young man was as he saw David going out against the Philistine enemy. Abner had no idea, and so King Saul commanded him go and inquire who his father was. When David returned from killing the Philistine with Abner, he had the destroyed man’s head with him in his hand. Saul asked whose son he was. And David replied, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite (1 Samuel 17:55-58).”
-*Application* So much has been made through the years of this narrative between the seemingly invincible foe and the unlikely hero. Books, devotionals, sermons, motivational speeches, movies, and more have heralded the triumphs of this man of valor and faith in his God. We all face giants of many kinds through the course of our lives. The main point we should see here in this passage is that it is the LORD who fights our battles and gives us the victory when we stand confidently, not cockily, in His Name. Fear has no part of the Kingdom of Christ Jesus when facing our foe. Remember, insurmountable odds and impossible circumstances can be conquered when we surely and solely trust the LORD for His deliverance.
Verses to Memorize: 1 Samuel 17:37, 45, 47