1 Samuel 17

Great Stature

A familiar foe returned, and the Philistines gathered for battle with Israel. The Philistine return may indicate that they were aware of Saul's mental and emotional state. The Philistine army gathered at Socoh which is not far from Bethlehem. Saul had led the Israelites to victory over the Philistines in the past but this time was different, and it would seem that after the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, the fight in his army retreated as well. Saul and his troops took a defensive position, but they lacked the courage to engage the enemy. Each day the two armies gathered on opposite slopes and Israel was humiliated by the Philistine's defiance against the Israel and their God. The Philistine army brought a champion, Goliath of Gath who was a giant. He was massive at nine feet tall, and his battle array matched his stature. Goliath challenged Israel to send their champion to fight him, and the victor of the fight would determine the fate of the opposing army. This pagan Philistine had the audacity to defy the people of God, but Israel would not fight because they were afraid and dismayed. 

Great Faith

Jesse sent David to some of his older brothers who followed Saul to the battle. David served in Saul's court in the past, but he traveled back and forth to feed his father's sheep in Bethlehem. For forty days, the Philistine champion would challenge Israel twice a day. Jesse sent David to inquire about the welfare of his sons and to deliver some provisions both to them and their commander. David rose early, enlisted care for the sheep, and set out for the encampment. David arrived just in time to see the host going out to the battle line and shouting the war cry. David left the provisions with the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and greeted his brothers. What a sight David beheld as Goliath and stepped forth to challenge the army of Israel. David listens as this Philistine defies Israel and then he watches the men flee in fear of the giant. The men speak to one another about what the king would do for the man who would defeat the Philistine champion. The king would give the man his daughter and he would be free from taxation. David points to the greater reality and speaks of taking away the reproach of Israel and dealing with the affront to the living God. David's brother Eliab hears David and his anger erupts toward his little brother. He accuses David of being derelict in his duties, indicts him for his ambition, and charges him with evil motives. David asks what he has done to warrant such a response and then continues speaking with the men around him. This conversation did not go unnoticed, and word traveled to Saul who sent for David. David declares to Saul that he will fight the Philistine champion and Saul tries to dismiss him by telling David that Goliath has been trained to be a warrior all his life. David recounted God's faithfulness to him while he watched his father's sheep. He had fought a lion and a bear and both times he had emerged victorious. This Philistine would suffer the same fate as the lion and the bear because he dared to defy the armies of the living God. This was not misguided nationalistic pride; this was righteous indignation and faith burning inside of Israel's new king. Saul is convinced, and he blesses David. He clothes David in his armor, but the armor is too big and bulky. Saul had the stature of a king, but David had the heart of a king, and this was what the Lord saw. David stayed true to who he was, a mere shepherd from Bethlehem and took up his staff and chose five smooth stones from the brook, placing them in his shepherd's pouch. David's sling was in his hand, and he made his way toward the giant from Gath. 

Great Victory

The Philistine must have wondered what was going on as he watched a young shepherd boy make his way toward the champion. He went to David with his shield-bearer in front. Goliath is offended when he sees a youth and he curses David by his gods. Goliath began to boast of his swift victory and promised to leave his body for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. David does not flinch, and he speaks directly to the truth about this battle, that it is spiritual in nature and that his victory would show the greatness of God. He explains to the giant that he has misjudged the situation and that he came in the name of the Lord of hosts who would deliver the Philistine champion into his hand. It was Goliath who would be struck down, and David would sever the head of this uncircumcised Philistine as the due punishment for his sin. The army of the Philistines would soon litter the valley with their dead bodies to be devoured by the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. All the earth would know that there is a God in Israel and he does not need sword or spear because the entire battle belongs to him. The time for talking was over, and David ran toward the Philistine Giant. He reached into his bag and took a stone, placed it in his sling, and slung it at the giant. The stone found its mark and sank into the forehead of the Philistine, and he fell facedown on the ground. David took the sword of his opponent and decapitated him before the watching armies. The Philistines watched in disbelief, and they fled for the lives. The men of Judah were filled with courage and reminded that there is a God in Israel and they pursued the Philistines. The army of Israel returned from chasing the Philistine army and plundered their camp. David took the head of the giant to Jerusalem and he put Goliath's armor in his tent. Saul wants Abner to ascertain the details about David and his family. Abner brought David before Saul and David still carried the head of the Philistine in his hand. Saul asks for specifics about David and his family. David proclaims that he is the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. 

Things To Consider:

  • How can fear be the enemy of faith?
  • How can fear be the friend of faith?
  • Why is it difficult to remember that every battle is about faith?
  • How does David show maturity when he went to visit his brothers?
  • Why are family relationships sometimes complicated?
  • What do you think was the source of David's confidence?
  • How does faith grow?
  • Why do you think Saul went along with David's request?
  • What do we learn about David's motivation during the exchange between him and Goliath?
  • Why was David victorious?
  • Do you think this story is about you being able to bring down giants or God and his glory? Why?