1 Samuel 17

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Overview

    David and Goliath. It is always good to actually read the stories that we supposedly have known since we were children. Children’s Bibles never have the whole story, so it is good to take the time to know the Scripture. It is also good to know where to find the story. Knowing that the story of David and Goliath is found in 1 Samuel helps us with our Big Picture knowledge of the Bible. When David gets brought up in the New Testament, this is not the only story we can think of. This story should help shape and add to our historical understanding of David’s place in the New Testament as well.

David is sent to where the Philistines and Israelites are set to fight. However, they are not fighting, but rather waiting for someone to agree to fight Goliath. Goliath clearly states that he is defying Israel with his challenge, and when David arrives he finds that offensive. It is offensive that Goliath thinks they have no hope of winning, and it is pitiful that the Israelites are agreeing with this Philistine. So, when David asks around about why this is happening when there is obviously great reward in store for the man who defeats Goliath, David’s oldest brother gets annoyed and offended. Of course, Eliab, the oldest of Jesse’s sons, was there when David was anointed as the next king, and whether or not he understood that at the time, it did set David apart. And David is the youngest. Even the 4th through 7th son were not even sent into the battle. However, here David is stirring people up and offending them, and then volunteering to fight Goliath.

David’s speech to Goliath is my favorite part, which of course will be my key verses. He knows God is on his side, and that God can win without armor and sword to show His glory. David wins with a sling and a stone and then the Israelites chase the Philistines, killing them all along the way. David gains even more esteem in King Saul’s eyes.

Characters

The Philistines, Saul, the men of Israel, Goliath, David, Jesse, Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, the commander of Jesse’s sons thousand, a keeper of the sheep, the keeper of the baggage, God.

Key Verse

Verses 45-47 “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to 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 saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.””

Cross References

1 Samuel 17:6 “And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders.”

1 Samuel 17:36 “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Deuteronomy 28:26 “And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.”

1 Samuel 17:44 “The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.””

1 Kings 18:36 “And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.”

Joshua 4:23-24 “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.””

Conclusion

    Once again it is hard for Western ears and eyes to hear and read about these wars that God is orchestrating, and that God wants certain people dead. However, these are people who are defying the Lord, and we all know that the wages of sin is death. We are all deserving of death in these ways, but we must turn our hearts to God. With Jesus we have forgiveness to avoid this end for ourselves.

The other thing that stands out to me is that David fully latches onto the truth that God is in charge. He not only believes in God, but longs to uphold His name, to give him honor and esteem as Saul has not done in this book. David shows the Philistines and the Israelites that God is in charge of the battle. Every battle is the Lord’s.

Finally, the verse about Goliath’s armor made me think about the reading of this passage about Goliath is much like when Jesus is walking with his disciples and the disciples are pointing out amazing architecture. Jesus is not impressed. As God’s army, we should not be impressed with Goliath’s size, because our God is bigger. The same goes with money, employment, family, trauma. God is bigger than all of it, and He is in charge.

Jesus in the Old Testament

    “For those who see only as mortals see (cf. 16:7), every aspect of Goliath’s description inspires fear—his giant proportions, his oversized armor and military equipment, his mocking words. “Saul and all Israel” are certainly “dismayed and greatly afraid” (17:11). David, however, arrives on the scene of battle with different eyes and ears. He sees Goliath’s size but measures it not against a human standard but against a big God. He hears Goliath’s words but finds them ridiculous when one considers that they are aimed at the “armies of the living God” (v. 26). In David’s eyes, Goliath is no more threatening than one of the brute beasts from which God had rescued him (vv. 34-37; cf. 2 Pet. 2:12).”*

My notes are so good at finding references that fit, not just the verse referenced from 2 Peter, but the whole section is directly related to what we were just discussing above about Goliath’s defiance of God, and that it is a sin that deserves death. So, I will include the whole section from 2 Peter (this epistle is only 3 chapters long, so I suggest going to read this in your spare time in the next week as well). I will italicize the part that the notes are commenting on because it does relate specifically to how David is comparing Goliath to the lions and bears he had fought in the past.

2 Peter 2:1, 4-12 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction… For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

“The main takeaway for believers today involves seeing parallels between what David did and what Jesus does for us today. David, by his confidence in and relationship with God, functions as a representative champion of his cowering people. Christ, similarly, is the representative champion of his cowering people. Both David and Christ win a victory that results of which are imputed to their people. Christians are not meant to read the story of David and Goliath and mainly identify with David, but with the people who need saving. Reflecting on the rescue that our true and final champion, Jesus himself, has won on our behalf, our hearts are moved to worship and to greater trust in him.”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 18

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Author: Annie Liss

Currently a mother and a wife who loves reading. Formerly a middle school math teacher who kept too busy and stressed out to read. My husband and I are missionaries in Lebanon.

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