I Samuel 16–17. David and Goliath.
Key Notes: A young shepherd against a professional fighter. David's understanding of God. What a sling can do.
It was not long after Saul's blunders that a new king was anointed. David would upstage Saul in many ways. This would be a troubled time for David as well as Saul. Why God moved so soon, when it would be many years before David could be king, is a puzzle.But we know that David had had twenty years of guerilla warfare when he became king.
The story of David and Goliath one of the best-known and loved stories of our Bible. Children love it because it a victory of the young and innocent against the powerful and evil. "Jack and the Bean-stalk" is a children's fairy story about the young and daring against the powerful, but with no positive moral. This story has wonderful spiritual lessons.
16:1–5 God told Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint a new king to replace Saul. Samuel said he would be killed if Saul heard of it. Once he had told Saul that he was rejected, he became Saul’s enemy. (Kill the messenger.) God told him to take a heifer and prepare a sacrifice, inviting Jesse to the sacrifice. The elders of Bethlehem were afraid of Samuel, but he invited them, and Jesse with his sons, to the sacrifice.
16:6–13 Samuel looked over Jesse's sons. Eliab, was tall and good looking, but God had rejected him. Then Abinadab and Shammah were passed over, and the other four of Jesse's sons. Samuel asked for another son. Jesse said there was one left with the sheep. Samuel said he would wait for him. We wonder why he was not invited. When he came, ruddy, with beautiful eyes, and handsome, God said he should be anointed. David was anointed by Samuel in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of God came mightily upon David from that day on. Samuel went back to Ramah.
16:14–23 Now the Spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit from God tormented Saul. His servants made the diagnosis and advised Saul to send for someone to play the lyre. One servant described a skilful musician, a man of courage, a man of war, prudent in speech, with good presence, whom God was with: David. Jesse sent a donkey with a load of bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, with David. Saul loved him greatly and made him his armor-bearer. David played the lyre when Saul was vexed and the evil spirit would depart from Saul. Evidently David did not stay long because he was soon forgotten.
17:1–11 The Philistines came back to fight at Socoh, ten miles west of Bethlehem. This was another deep penetration into Israel’s territory. Bethlehem is near Jerusalem. Saul and his men camped at Elah--each army on a side of a mountain. Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, 9'4" tall, came sheathed in bronze--helmet, shin-guards, a coat of mail and a spear. He would be an awesome sight. His armor-bearer went before him. He challenged Israel to man-to-man combat for 40 days The victors would automatically be given the victory over the other side. Israel was appalled and paralyzed.
17:12 Jesse was now old, too old to be at the front himmself. His sons Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah were in the army. David went back and forth, visiting the front and going back to tend sheep for his father. Jesse sent David with an ephah of dried corn, ten loaves of bread to his brothers, and ten cheeses for the commander. He was to get word from his brothers to take back to their father. As David came to the camp the armies were lining up with the war cry. Goliath repeated his challenge.
17:24–27 When they saw Goliath, the Israelites ran. They repeated in David's hearing the rumor that the one who killed Goliath would have the king's daughter in marriage. David had to hear that rumor repeated.
17:28–30 Eliab heard David asking about Goliath and was annoyed at David's presumption and curiosity: the bratty little brother was trying to embarrass his elders. David shrugged him off and went on asking for information.
17:31–40 Now Saul heard about David's inquiry and sent for him. David volunteered to fight Goliath, on the basis that he had killed a lion and a bear that attacked his flock. God had delivered him from wild animals and he would deliver him from Goliath also. Saul gave David his blessing and his armor, but David could not fight in armor which was unfamiliar and much too big for him.
So he went off with his staff and five smooth stones little bigger than golf-balsl in his shepherd's bag, and his sling (the rocket-launcher of that time). In the time of the Judges, Benjamin had 700 warriors who could hit a hair using a sling and stone. (Judg.20:16.) YouTube clips show excellent demonstrations of this technique, both full speed and in slow-motion. The stone is held overhead and hurled like a base-ball. It has been timed at 85mph. The giant would have about a second to react to a quarter-pound ball coming at 85 mph, the speed of a pitched baseball. If it hit him in the head, it would knock him down.
17:48–53 David ran at him with his sling, threw one stone and stunned Goliath, hitting him in the forehead below his helmet. It is unlikely that Goliath could have survived the blow. He pulled out Goliath's sword before he could react and cut off his head. Israel saw the turn of events and chased the Philistines back to their towns, Gath and Ekron, plundering their camp.
17:54–58 David had Goliath's head and kept his armor in his tent. Saul did not remember who David was, and Abner could not say but found him and took him to Saul. He said he was the son of Jesse.
This story is an account of amazing personal courage, technical skill and spiritual life. David is a great contrast to Saul. He made no mistakes.
"I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts (JHWH Sabaoth), the God of the armies of Israel...." David's speech to Goliath was based on his understanding of who God is and therefore who he and Goliath and Israel were. When Goliath challenged Israel, he challenged God. The Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel's army at this time. David is acting as a spokesman for Israel, a prophet.
We need to be reminded that the battle is the Lord's. That message is repeated in the Old Testament. It is also true in our lives.
The Spirit of God left Saul and came upon David. The Holy Spirit worked in the Old Testament period with people to perform specific tasks. For example, Samson did not realize that the Lord had left him. (Judg.16:20). Permanent indwelling did not come until the resurrection of Christ. (Jn.7:39). Consequently David's prayer "...take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." (Psa.51:11) was a real concern.
We enjoy, but cannot comprehend the Holy Spirit's blessing. His permanent indwelling has been given to us.