I Samuel 16-17
Everyone loves a hero. But the first time we meet David, he is only a shepherd boy from Bethlehem (I Sam. 16:4-11). Shepherding might seem to be a strange education to prepare a man for kingship. Indeed, nothing in his background suggests David will ever be a leader. Many overlook the fact that Samuel has already anointed David to be King before he fights Goliath in the valley of Elah (v. 13). God’s anointing is upon David prior to this epic exploit.
For forty days, the Philistine’‘s champion warrior has taunted, intimidated and demoralized the army of Israel (17:8-16). This imposing figure stood over nine feet tall (v. 4). His armor and weaponry correspond to his great height. His coat of armor was made of flexible metal plates which overlapped each other like fish scales. Although this armor was common in ancient oriental warfare, Goliath’s weighed 140 pounds (v. 5). This giant of a man held a massive shaft topped with an iron spearhead weighing seventeen pounds (v. 7).
Until God brings him to his defining moment in life, David is faithful to his shepherding duties. He arrives near the battlefield on an errand to bring food to his brothers (vv. 17-18). David’s brothers were experienced soldiers and any one of them could have answered Goliath’s challenge. However, it is not those who seem more qualified, but those who desire to know God’s heart that conquer God’s enemies (Acts 13:22). Upon hearing Goliath’s daily taunts, David inquires why he has not been silenced (v. 26).
David’s eldest brother, Eliab, accuses him of neglecting the sheep (I Sam. 17:28). To David, sheep herding is nothing compared to the honor of Jehovah. Criticism does not deter those who are determined to kill giants. Like the Prodigal Son in Jesus’ parable, David is undaunted by the negative attitude of his elder brother (Luke 15). Eliab assumes he knew David’s mind—but God knew his heart. If David had waited until his brothers all agreed he was the best man to fight Goliath, the victory would never have been won. David goes forth to meet the behemoth, undaunted by the opinion of others. He answers his brother’s criticism with his actions rather than words.
King Saul points out to David that Goliath has been a soldier all his life (I Sam. 17:33). David explains to the king that he has fought enemies before. He rehearses how God has helped him kill both a lion and a bear in defending his father’s sheep (v. 34). David gained confidence in God by fighting animals (v. 37). In David’s mind, this gigantic foe can be vanquished as well. Although the lion and the bear were different adversaries, Goliath’s fate will be the same. Confident that God will give him the victory, David is resolved to risk his life again.
David does not compare himself with Goliath, but compares Goliath with God. Knowing the threat to be real and the danger eminent, David asks, “Is there not a cause?” (v. 29). While Saul focuses on the overwhelming circumstances, David’s focus is on God. This gargantuan blasphemer must be silenced (v. 36). Because David fights for His honor, God will make him victorious.
Saul attempts to dress David in his own armor. But David knew additional weight will be a disadvantage (I Sam. 17:38-39). Although proven battle tactics might suggest armor is essential, David does not allow his equipment to be chosen for him. Although he knew little about armored warfare, he knew his sling. David goes forth to meet his enemy with the weapon he has trained with. One cannot win David’s victory with Saul’s armor.
David searches for projectiles best suited for his sling. When you know you must face your biggest enemy, you must select your weapon and ammunition carefully. Although he picks five smooth stones, he uses but one. The stone hurled by faith always finds its mark. But before David kills the giant, he predicts Goliath’s death, his decapitation and that animals will feast on his carcass (v. 46). After explaining to Goliath that God will give him the victory, he then runs to meet him (v. 48). This boy dashing toward him probably astounds Goliath. David takes deliberate aim, believing God will guide his stone to its mark.
Goliath is a braggart, and many boasters lose their heads that way. David hit Goliath on the forehead: the place of his pride. David proves his prediction that God will triumph without sword or spear (v. 47). He has stunned the giant, but is not satisfied until he is certain of his death. One must be thorough when assailing such an adversary. David does not need a personal sword to kill him, for he knew that the weapons of this prideful adversary will be turned against him (Isa. 54:17). Unknowingly, the giant carried with him the instrument of his own execution, for David uses Goliath’s sword to cut off his head. When the Philistines see their champion vanquished, they flee and are pursued by the Israelites (v. 52).
David stands as proof that a defining moment will come in the life of every Believer. Little did David suspect when he went out to visit his brothers that day how God would use him. Although we must not seek battles, we must prepare for them with the equipment God provides for us. We must become familiar with the weapons of spiritual warfare and know how to use them (II Cor. 10:4). When David hurled his stone, he set his feet on a path that took him straight into the heart of God. The depth of the Davidic Psalms prove this to be true.
It is said of David that “he behaved himself wisely” (I Sam. 18:4). Whatever God places in David’s hand, whether a shepherd’s staff, a sling, a sword, a pen, or a scepter, he uses it for God’s glory, not his own. God did not promise David He will make him king if he fights Goliath. This shepherd boy does not set out to be the king of Israel, yet God promotes him to that position. Three thousand years after David’s victory, it is still true that those who defend the honor of God always win.
Quick Quiz Questions
1. What was David’s hometown (I Sam. 16:4-12)?
2. Did Samuel anoint David to be king of Israel before or after he killed the giant (I Sam. 16:13)?
3. For how many days had Goliath been taunting the army of Israel (I Sam. 17:8-16)?
4. Who accused David of neglecting his sheep (I Sam. 17:28)?
5. What had David killed earlier in his life (I Sam. 17:34)?
6. What did David refuse to wear (I Sam. 17:29)?
7. What did David use to decapitate Goliath (I Sam. 17:51)?
8. Who later retrieved this weapon (I Sam. 21:9-10)?
9. What is said concerning David in Acts 13:22?