David and Goliath

Chapter 17

David and Goliath

v1 The *Philistines gathered their army ready for a battle. They met at Sucoh in the land of *Judah. They camped in the area of Ephes Dammim that was between the towns of Sucoh and Azekah. v2 Saul and the *Israelites gathered in the Valley of Elah. They camped there and got ready to fight the *Philistines. v3 The *Philistines were on one side of the hill. The *Israelites were on the other side of the hill. The valley was between them.

v4 The *Philistines had a soldier who was a champion. He came from the town of Gath. His name was Goliath. He was about 3 metres (more than 9 feet) tall. v5 He wore a *bronze *helmet on his head. His *armour included a coat made of *bronze. It weighed about 57 kilos (about 125 pounds). v6 He wrapped pieces of *bronze round the front of each leg. He had a *bronze javelin (type of sword) which he had tied to his back. v7 The handle of his *spear was very thick. He had an iron point on his *spear. It weighed about 7 kilos (about 15 pounds). A man carried Goliath’s *shield and walked in front of him.

v8 Goliath stood and shouted to the *Israelite soldiers. He said, ‘Why have you got ready for a battle? I am a *Philistine. You are Saul’s servants. You must choose one of your soldiers. Send him down to fight me. v9 If he can kill me then the *Philistines will become your slaves. I will fight this man. If I kill him, the *Israelites will become our slaves’. v10 Then Goliath said again, ‘I dare to oppose the army of *Israel. Send one of your men and we will fight together’. v11 Saul and the *Israelites heard what Goliath said. They were very scared.

Sucoh is about 27 kilometres (17 miles) south west of Jerusalem. The land belonged to the *Israelites but the *Philistines were attacking it. This time the *Philistines did not fight with all of their army. They did not want the *Israelites to kill any of their soldiers. Instead, they wanted an *Israelite soldier who was a champion to fight against Goliath. Goliath was a *Philistine soldier who was their champion. The *Philistines were certain that they would win. Goliath was a very tall man. He had very strong *armour to protect him. (You can read about *armour in chapter 14.) A ‘javelin’ is like an arrow but much bigger and stronger. A soldier throws it at his enemy. Goliath’s *spear had an iron point. Iron is stronger than *bronze. When Goliath opposed the army of *Israel, he also opposed the God of *Israel.

Saul was a tall man (9:2). He was a strong soldier. In chapter 11, the Holy Spirit had made Saul strong to fight the *Ammonites. But Saul did not trust God now. He was afraid of Goliath. Saul was not a good leader for the *Israelite army.

v12 David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was an Ephrathite. He came from the town of Bethlehem which was in the land of *Judah. Jesse had 8 sons. When Saul was king, Jesse was an old man. v13Jesse’s three oldest sons had gone to the war with Saul. Eliab was his oldest son. Abinadab was Jesse’s second son. Shammah was his third son. v14 David was his youngest son. Jesse’s three oldest sons were with Saul. v15 Sometimes David was with Saul. But sometimes he had to go back to Bethlehem. He went back to look after his father’s sheep.

v16 Goliath called to the *Israelites every morning and evening for 40 days.

v17 One day Jesse said to his son David, ‘Here are 10 kilos (22 pounds) of grain which I have cooked, and 10 loaves of bread. Take these quickly to your brothers in the army camp. v18 Take these 10 cheeses to the officer who leads their group. Find out whether your brothers are well. Bring me back news about them. v19 Your brothers are with Saul and the *Israelite army. They are in the Valley of Elah. They are fighting against the *Philistines’.

v20 So David got up early the next morning. He left the sheep with another *shepherd. He took the food. He did what Jesse had told him to do. David reached the *Israelite camp. The army was just going out to its battle positions. They shouted their war cry as they went. v21 The *Israelite and *Philistine armies stood in their positions ready for the battle. They stood and looked towards each other across the valley. v22 David left all his things with the officer who kept the army supplies. David ran to the *Israelite army. He greeted his brothers. v23 While David talked to his brothers Goliath, the *Philistine champion, came forward. Goliath shouted things against the *Israelites as usual. David heard what he said. v24 When the *Israelites saw Goliath they were very frightened. They ran away.

Ephrathah is another name for Bethlehem. ‘*Judah’ is the land that belongs to the *tribe of *Judah. Jesse was too old to fight in the army. But 3 of his sons were in Saul’s army. When David was with Saul, David played his *harp. When Saul did not need him, David went back to Bethlehem.

Jesse’s sons had been with Saul for at least 6 weeks. Jesse wanted to know whether they were safe. He also wanted to know whether the battle was going well. So, he sent David with some food for them. First, David got another *shepherd to look after his sheep. Then he went to find his brothers. Goliath insulted the *Israelite army twice a day for 40 days. Every day the *Israelites got ready for a battle. They shouted their war cry as they went out. They hoped that this would frighten their enemy. Also it should have made the *Israelites feel brave. But every day they saw Goliath and were afraid. They ran away. David arrived at the *Israelites’ camp and heard Goliath shouting to them.

v25 The *Israelites said, ‘Look at this man. He keeps shouting insults at us. King Saul will give a lot of money to the man who kills Goliath. The king will also let this man marry the king’s daughter. The family of that man’s father will not have to pay taxes in *Israel’.

v26 David said to the men who were standing near him, ‘If a man kills Goliath that man will remove the shame from *Israel. What reward will he get? Goliath is just a *heathen *Philistine. He should not insult the army of the living God’.

v27 The men told David what they had been saying. They said, ‘This will be done for the man who kills Goliath’.

v28 Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard David speaking with the men. Eliab was angry with David and asked him, ‘Why have you come here? Who is looking after the few sheep that you have in the desert? I know that you are proud and wicked. I think that you came here just to watch the battle’.

v29 David said, ‘What have I done wrong? I just asked a question’. v30 So David went and asked other people the same question. All the men gave the same answer. v31 Some of the men had heard what David said. They went and told Saul. Saul sent for David.

v32 David said to Saul, ‘I am your servant. Do not be depressed about Goliath. I will go and fight him’.

v33 Saul replied, ‘You cannot go and fight Goliath. You are only a boy. Goliath has been a strong soldier all of his life’.

v34 But David said, ‘I have looked after my father’s sheep. Sometimes a lion or a bear came and stole a sheep. v35 I chased the lion or bear and attacked it. I rescued the sheep from its mouth. When the lion or bear started to attack me, I seized its fur. Then I hit it and killed it. v36 I, your servant, have killed lions and bears. And I will do the same to this *heathen *Philistine. He has insulted the army of the living God. v37 The *Lord has saved me from the lions and bears. He will save me from this *Philistine’.

Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the *Lord be with you’. v38 Saul put his own clothes on David. He put his *bronze *helmet on David’s head. Then he dressed David with his *armour. v39 David put the sword onto the *armour. He tried to walk but he was not used to the *armour.

David said to Saul, ‘I can not wear all this *armour. I am not used to it’. So David took it all off.

v40 David picked up his *shepherd’s stick. He went to the stream. He took 5 smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. He had his sling in his hand. Then he went to meet the *Philistine.

v41 Goliath approached David. A man walked in front of Goliath and carried his *shield. Goliath looked at David. v42 He saw that David was a handsome young man with brown skin. This disgusted Goliath. v43 He said to David, ‘Why have you come with a stick? Do you think that I am a dog?’ Then he asked his *gods to send evil on David. v44 Then Goliath said, ‘Come here. I will feed the birds and wild animals with your body’.

v45 David said, ‘You have come to fight me with a sword, a *spear and a javelin (a type of sword). But I come to fight you in the name of the *Lord who is most powerful. You have insulted the God of *Israel’s army. v46 Today the *Lord will hand you over to me. I will hit you and cut off your head. Today I will feed the birds and wild animals with the bodies of the *Philistine army. Then the whole world will know that there is a God in *Israel. v47 The *Lord does not need swords and *spears to save his people. Everyone here will soon realise that. The *Lord will win the battle. He will give us the power over you’.

v48 Goliath started to move nearer to David to attack him. David ran quickly to meet him. v49 David took a stone from his bag. He put the stone into the sling and threw it. The stone hit Goliath just above his eyes. It went right into his head. Goliath fell with his face on the ground.

v50 So David defeated the *Philistines by using a sling and a stone. David did not have a sword but he killed Goliath. v51 David ran and stood next to him. He took Goliath’s sword out of its holder. Then he killed Goliath and cut off his head with the sword. The *Philistines ran away when they saw that Goliath was dead. v52 The men of *Israel and *Judah shouted. They chased after the *Philistines all the way to the entrance of the town of Gath. And they chased them to the gates of the town of Ekron. They killed the *Philistines. They left their bodies on the road to Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. v53 The *Israelites returned when they had chased the *Philistines. Then the *Israelites went and robbed the *Philistine camp. v54 David took Goliath’s head into Jerusalem. He put Goliath’s *armour into his own tent.

Saul wanted a man to kill Goliath. That man would save *Israel. Saul offered a big reward. First, he offered a lot of money. Then the man could marry Saul’s daughter. In this nation, a father chose whom his daughter married. Saul would be happy to have a brave man in his family. The reward was not just for the brave man. It was for his family too. They would not have to pay taxes in *Israel. The *Hebrew word means that the family would be ‘free’. This can also mean that they did not have to serve the king.

The *Israelite soldiers knew the reward for the man who killed Goliath. David did not know this so he had to ask. David did not want honour for himself. He wanted honour for the living God. ‘Heathen *Philistine’ means that the *Philistines did not *worship the one true, living God. They *worshipped false *gods and *idols (including Dagon). David did not want *Israel to have shame. He did not like it when Goliath insulted the God of *Israel. Eliab was angry with David and insulted him. Perhaps he was jealous of David. Eliab was afraid of Goliath but David was not afraid of him. David was young but he was brave. He protected his father’s sheep. He did not like it when wild animals stole the sheep. God had helped him to kill fierce lions and bears. He knew that God would help him to kill Goliath. David insulted Goliath when he called him a ‘*heathen *Philistine’.

No one in the army of *Israel would fight Goliath. So Saul let David fight him. Saul gave David his *armour to protect him. But David was not used to wearing *armour. Instead, David trusted God to protect him. The battle was not really between David and Goliath. The battle was between Goliath’s *gods and the God of *Israel. Someone insulted a person if he called him ‘a dog’. Goliath thought that David was insulting him. Goliath did not know the power of *Israel’s God. He thought that no one could defeat him. Goliath thought that his *armour and his strength would protect him. David was confident. The ‘name of the *Lord’ (verse 45) is another way to refer to the *Lord himself. (See Exodus 3:13-15.) David knew the power of his God. He also knew that this was the *Lord’s battle, not his. He told this to Goliath. David gave the honour to God.

David could see where Goliath’s *helmet did not protect him. So David took just his *shepherd’s stick, bag and a sling. A *shepherd used his stick to fight wild animals. A ‘sling’ was a piece of material with a string on each side. David put the stone in the material and held the two pieces of string. He swung this round fast. Then he let go of one piece of string. The stone went through the air very fast. David could attack Goliath before he got too close. David was an expert with a sling. He was very accurate. He had probably often practised while he looked after the sheep. The stone hit Goliath. It made him unconscious and he fell forward. David did not have a sword of his own. So he used Goliath’s sword to cut off his head. The *Philistines saw the power of *Israel’s God. They ran away. But they did not become slaves to the *Israelites as Goliath had said in verse 9. The *Israelites killed many *Philistines as they ran home.

After a battle, the soldiers robbed the enemy that they had defeated. This was the soldier’s reward. David took Goliath’s *armour as his reward. In 1 Samuel 21:9, the priest had Goliath’s sword. Perhaps David gave the sword to the *Lord because the *Lord won the battle. In those days, the leader of the army that won a battle cut off the head of their enemy’s leader. This was the prize for the winner. It made the army who lost the battle feel humble. Verse 54 does not say when David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. The people from the Jebusite *tribe lived in Jerusalem at this time. Perhaps David took Goliath’s head there to warn them. (David attacked Jerusalem many years later. (See 2 Samuel 5.)

v55 Saul had watched David as he went out to fight Goliath. Abner was in command of Saul’s army. Saul said to Abner, ‘Abner, whose son is that young man?’

Abner replied, ‘My great king, I do not know’.

v56 The king said, ‘Find out whose son he is’.

v57 David returned after he had killed Goliath. Abner brought David to Saul. David was still holding Goliath’s head.

v58 Saul asked him, ‘Young man, who is your father?’

David answered, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse who comes from Bethlehem’.

Saul now had to keep his promise. David could claim Saul’s daughter for his wife. And Jesse’s family would be free from the king’s taxes and service. David had played his music to Saul. So Saul knew David. Now Saul wanted to know more about David’s father. Saul’s daughter would become part of Jesse’s family.