David And Goliath

INTRODUCTION

It was common practice for the Philistines to get their best fighter to intimidate and challenge an opposing army for a fight. We read in 1 Samuel 17:1-11, that Goliath was the Philistine’s champion who stood at over nine feet tall, his armour weighed around 125 pounds and his spear would have weighed around 17 pounds. This doesn’t even take into account the weight of the bronze helmet, the bronze javelin, and the brass shin guards. The total weight may have been possibly around 200 pounds.

Understandably, the Israelites were dismayed and terrified, not only because of the size of Goliath and not only because a champion couldn’t be found among the Israelites but because if a champion of Israel fought Goliath and lost, they would have to subject themselves again to the Philistines.

In 1 Samuel 17:12-19, we read that Jesse, who is obviously much older now has three of his sons in the Israelite army. David was still a shepherd who looked after his father’s sheep. Goliath came to the Israelites morning and evening for forty days to torment the Israelites, and it appears that Israel still didn’t find anyone brave enough to face him.

Jesse tells David to go to the front line and take some food for his brothers, this was the custom of the day to provide food for your family who was in the army, ready for war, .

In 1 Samuel 17:20-27, we read when David finally reaches the army posts, he gave the supplies for his brothers to the keeper of supplies but ran to the front line to see how his brothers were doing. On arrival Goliath once again tormented Israel and once again Israel ran away from him.

Saul appears to have offered a great reward for anyone who would kill Goliath, lots of wealth, along with his daughter in marriage which would mean whoever married her would have great status in Israel, along with the bonus of not paying taxes.

Notice how David describes Goliath, he calls him a disgrace and uncircumcised. It’s now that we begin to see David’s faith shining through, he calls the Israelites, ‘the armies of the living God’, in other words, he still believed that God was still fighting for Israel.

While Saul and his army were terrified, which showed a lack of faith in God, David still had great faith in God. While the Philistines believed in dead gods, that is idols, which can do nothing, David knew his God was very much alive.

In 1 Samuel 17:28-37, we read that when David finally reached his oldest brother, Eliab, we would have thought that he would be grateful that David came to see how he was doing but this wasn’t the case. Eliab burned with anger towards David and was highly offended that David would come to him and ask how he was doing.

He accuses him of being filled with pride, but the truth was, David was filled with faith, he trusted that God could help, whilst Eliab was filled with pride and didn’t even think about God helping them.

Everyone in Israel was terrified of Goliath and no one volunteered to fight him and so David who fully trusted in God to use him volunteered to fight the giant. David tells Saul that he is a shepherd, who fought off lions and bears and killed them when they tried to attack his father’s sheep.

Notice that he gave all the credit for killing these lions and bears to God, he says if God has helped him kill those animals, He will certainly help him kill Goliath. In a sense, God was using David’s past experiences to help prepare him for this fight against Goliath.

Notice in 1 Samuel 17:38-47, that David tried on Saul’s armour, he knew he couldn’t fight with all that armour on but maybe there’s something else going on here which is often overlooked.

If David had worn Saul’s armour, Saul, being the king, could have claimed a vital share of the glory of the victory, it’s possible that David was aware of this and didn’t want to give Saul any credit for the victory over Goliath, he wanted the all the credit to go to God.

Notice also that David was also offered a sword but he refused to take it, this will prove to be a significant decision later when he cuts off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword, 1 Samuel 17:51.

David completely trusted in what he was familiar with, his staff, his sling and stones, Judges 2:16, which were all used to defend and protect his father’s sheep. He knew as long as God was with him, these would be more than enough to defeat Goliath.

WHY DID DAVID CHOOSE FIVE SMOOTH STONES?

If David trusted God that much, why not just take one? We all know that God fights for us, but we still need to fight with God. Although David trusted in God, he also knew that to take on any challenge, even with God’s help, he needed to be as well prepared as he could be.

Something which is often overlooked is that Goliath actually had four brothers, 2 Samuel 21:19-22 / 1 Chronicles 20:5-8, and David knew that when he killed Goliath, his four brothers may well want to come to the front and seek revenge. That’s why David took five stones, one for Goliath and the other four, just in case his brothers came to challenge him.

When Goliath sees David and verbally abuses him and it’s clear that he isn’t impressed with this so-called Israelite champion. David recognises Goliath’s sword, spear and javelin but he isn’t impressed, and so David says he comes to Goliath in the name of the God of the armies of Israel, Exodus 15:1-3.

It’s clear that David’s courage didn’t come from his physical strength or because of the weapons he had with him, he was courageous because God was fighting for him.

David’s confidence in God was so great, that he knew the purpose behind the victory, he says the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. David wasn’t full of himself, as his brother had suggested earlier, 1 Samuel 17:28, David wants everyone to know that it will be God who gives him the victory over Goliath and all the credit should be given to God, Judges 7:1-8 / Matthew 6:1-6 / Matthew 6:16-18.

In 1 Samuel 17:48-54, we read as Goliath runs towards David, David takes a stone from his bag and slingshots the stone with deadly accuracy. The stone strikes Goliath right between the eyes, on the forehead, this stuns him and he falls to the ground.

Notice that David runs over and cuts off Goliath’s head, using Goliath’s own sword, this was greatly humiliating for Goliath and the Philistines, Judges 4:21. As a result of Goliath being killed by David, the Israelites became more confident and pursued the Philistines and the Philistines fled for their lives.

Notice also that David took Goliath’s head, to Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:6-10, and he put Goliath’s weapons, in his own tent. The reference to the ‘tent’ here should be understood as the tabernacle, this becomes clear when we read 1 Samuel 21:8-9.

In 1 Samuel 17:55-58, we read that Saul wanted to know who it was who killed Goliath and so he asks Abner who was the commander of Saul’s army to find out. There appears that some time has gone by from when David first met Saul and played the lyre for him, 1 Samuel 16:19-21 / 1 Samuel 16:23, and the time here when David fights Goliath but Saul didn’t recognise him.

WHY DIDN’T SAUL RECOGNISE DAVID?

Some commentators believe that David played behind a screen or a curtain for Saul, so Saul never actually saw David’s face. Other commentators believe that because of the distressing spirit, Saul wasn’t entirely in his right mind, 1 Samuel 16:15.

We do know that David didn’t spend all of his time at Saul’s palace but went home to tend his father’s sheep from time to time, 1 Samuel 17:15. It is also possible that David’s appearance had changed during the time when he was away from Saul, so Saul didn’t immediately recognise him.

One thing is clear though, God was preparing the way for David to take Saul’s place as king and leader of Israel.

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