1Samuel 17:1-51

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 3, 2002


Last week, we looked at one of the great victories that Israel had seen over the Philistines.

Jonathan had attacked the garrison of the Philistines (1Sam. 13:3), at first ending with the nation running for cover.  Later, when Jonathan and his armor bearer took on the Philistines at Michmash by themselves (1Sam. 14), God gave Israel their second major victory over the Philistines.  Victory came because Jonathan was willing to trust God and take a step. It’s now been something like 27 years since that victory at Michmash.  The Philistines are once again itching for a fight.

:1  were gathered together at Shochoh … Azekah … Ephesdammim.

This is an area about ten miles west of David’s hometown of Bethlehem.

:3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side …

The setting is this – the Philistines are on one hill, and the Israelites are on another hill, with a little stream running down the middle of the valley between the two camps.  The stream is usually dry except in the rainy season.

:4  a champion … Goliath …whose height was six cubits and a span.

GoliathGolyath – “splendour”

six cubits and a span – or, nine feet nine inches tall. He’s HUGE.

:5  the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.

The armor weighed 125 pounds.

:6 greaves of brass  … a target of brass between his shoulders.

greaves – kind of like shin guards, protection for his legs.

targetkiydown – javelin, short sword, dart

Josephus records (Antiquities, 6:9:171) that, “His spear was also such as was not carried like a light thing in his right hand, but he carried it as lying on his shoulders.”

:7 his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron

The head of the spear weighed about 15 pounds.  Think of the weight of a heavy bowling ball, shaped into the head of a spear.

:9 If he be able to fight with me …

It’s winner take all.  The losers become slaves.

:11 they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

dismayedchathath – to be shattered, be broken

:12 Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah

DavidDavid – “beloved”

Ephrathite – a person from Ephrath, another name for Bethelehem (Gen. 35:19).

:15 David went and returned … to feed his father's sheep

Because things were pretty serious, David had been sent home to tend his father’s sheep.

:16 And the Philistine …presented himself forty days.

Every morning and evening Goliath came out.  Every morning and evening the army of Israel was afraid.  This went on a long time.  Forty days.

:18 look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.

Jesse is sending food for his boys in the army.

take their pledge – The idea was to bring home something like a lock of hair or a piece of nail to show that the boys were still alive and in good health.

Jesse is simply asking his baby to run an errand.  Little does he know that it would be his “baby” who would be used to bring deliverance for the nation.

:20 And David rose up early … he came to the trench …

It’s a ten-mile walk from Bethlehem to the battle in the valley of Elah.

trench – the area that where the army was gathered.

:22 And David left his carriage …

He left his “stuff”, the supplies that he had carried from home with the guy in charge of keeping all the “stuff”.

:25  the king will enrich him with great riches …

There will be great rewards for killing Goliath, including wealth, a girl, and no taxes.

It seems that this announcement is being made to the entire army, a general announcement that was probably repeated each time Goliath issued his challenge.

:26  that he should defy the armies of the living God?

To Goliath, the Israelite army was made up of the “servants to Saul” (vs.8).

To David, they were the “armies of the living God”.

David wasn’t scared because he didn’t see himself just as a subject or King Saul, he saw himself as a part of God’s kingdom.

:28  I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart;

pridezadown – insolence, arrogance

naughtinessroa‘– badness, evil; wilfulness

Sounds just like an older brother. It could be that Eliab is just out to protect his little brother.  Perhaps he truly feels that David doesn’t belong there.


Some want to keep you from the battle.

Sometimes some very good, loving people will try to keep you out of the battle.  They may feel like they’re protecting you.

:32  thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

David is not a stranger to Saul. He has already worked for Saul for a little while as Saul’s armor-bearer and personal musician. Saul already has developed a love for David (1Sam. 16:21).

:34 there came a lion, and a bear …

David is talking about two separate incidents.  One time he faced a lion, another time he faced a bear.

:39  I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them

I have not proved themnacah – to test, try, prove, put to the proof or test

We often get the picture that David is this little boy trying on a large man’s full suit of medieval armor, and that the little boy is lost in the huge suit.  I kind of wonder if this isn’t a little exaggerated.

We are told that David was the youngest (17:14), but we aren’t told how young he is.  We are told that he is “ruddy” and of a “beautiful countenance” and “goodly to look at” (16:12), but it doesn’t say he was small.


Be yourself

Don’t try to be someone else.  What works for someone else may not work for you.

:40 chose him five smooth stones …even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand

five smooth stones – Smooth stones come out of a sling better.  Why five?  Chuck Missler has suggested that he picked out one each for Goliath and his four brothers.

scripyalquwt – wallet, purse, pouch, bag, receptacle

a sling – not a “slingshot”.  This was a little leather pouch with two leather straps attached.  You stick the stone in the pouch and whirl it around and when you let go of one of the straps, the stone flies out.  Probably was a good tool for a shepherd to keep the sheep in line as well as to frighten off predators.

The point is that David now is going to approach the Philistine not as a man equipped for war, but as a simple shepherd, which was what he was.  He’s using what he knows.

:42 he disdained him …ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

disdained himbazah – to despise, hold in contempt, disdain

ruddy ‘admoniy – red, ruddy (of Esau as infant).  Probably red-haired.

fair countenance – David was a good looking kid

:46  I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines …

While Goliath threatened to feed David’s carcase to the birds, David threatened to feed the entire Philistine army to the birds.

:48  David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.


God needs to be leading you.

We can misunderstand the nature of the warfare around us and feel like we’re invincible and then go running into places where God doesn’t want us.
There were times when the apostles fled.

When Peter was arrested by Herod, and then an angel released him from prison, Peter didn’t stay around and challenge the soldiers, he left (Acts 12;17)

When Paul had been arrested at Philippi, he and Silas were beaten and put into prison.  When an earthquake brought about their release, they visited their friends, and then they left (Acts 16:40)

Why didn’t they just “rebuke” Satan or “bind” the enemy?  You have to have the Lord’s leading.

There were also times when the apostles stayed the course, were arrested, and sometimes even put to death.  Paul knew that he needed to go to Jerusalem:

(Acts 20:22-24 KJV)  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: {23} Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. {24} But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

:51 when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

Just as God brought a victory over the Philistines when Jonathan stepped out, now God would bring a victory because a young man stepped out.


An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After examining it, he called the curator of a prestigious natural-history museum. “I’ve just discovered a 3,000 year-old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!” the excited scientist exclaimed. To which the curator replied, “Bring him in. We’ll check it out.” A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. “You were exactly right about the mummy’s age and cause of death. How in the world did you know?” “Easy. There was a piece of paper in his hand that said, ‘10,000 Shekels on Goliath.’”


What’s a giant?

Something huge.
It’s 9’9” huge.  It’s 125-pound armor huge.  It’s 15-pound spear-head huge. It’s everything impossibly huge.
Something that terrifies you.
One of Satan’s greatest weapons against us is fear.

A certain man was troubled with dizzy spells. He went from one doctor to another and none could tell him what the problem was. He tried everything, it seemed. Finally, it was bothering him so much he started to lose weight, and he couldn’t sleep at night. He became a nervous wreck and his health began to deteriorate. He had lost hope that he would ever recover. So he decided to prepare for the worst. He made out his will, bought a cemetery plot, and even made arrangements with the local undertaker for what he was convinced was his soon demise. He even decided to buy a new suit of clothes to be buried in. When he went into the haberdasher’s he was measured for everything and picked out shoes, socks, coat, pants—and he asked for a size 15 shirt as well. The clerk said, “But, sir, you need a size 161/2 shirt, not 15.” But the man insisted he wore a size 15. Finally, in exasperation the clerk said, “But if you wear a size 15 you’ll get dizzy spells.”

It’s fun to laugh at silly things we might do out of fear, but when you are surrounded by the terror itself, you can be paralyzed.  Giants are the things that paralyze you with fear.
It could be an actual person who hassles you, a difficult assignment at work or school, a temptation for a particular sin in your life, even Satan himself.


What qualifies you to be a giant-killer?

1. You need to be David – you need to be “beloved” (the meaning of his name) by God.  You need to know God loves you.
You may not feel like God loves you, but He does.

(Jer 31:3 KJV)  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

(1 John 4:9-10 NLT)  God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. {10} This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

(Rom 8:35-39 NLT)  Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? {36} (Even the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") {37} No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. {38} And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. {39} Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think that in a sense, we could all call each other “Dave”.
2. You need a Big God
David wasn’t just going to feed Goliath’s body to the birds, but the entire Philistine army!
(Isa 40:10-12 KJV)  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. {11} He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. {12} Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
The movie angle – If I were to shoot the movie of David and Goliath, I’d have the camera at Goliath’s feet, looking up as he spouts his stupid taunts.  But as David begins to speak, I’d swing the camera up on the boom, and then switch to a helicopter shot and pull away to show how Goliath seems kind of tiny when you see the entire valley.  Then I’d switch to a satellite shot of the Asian continent, then zoom out to see the entire planet, perhaps even the entire Solar System in God’s hand.
God is really, really big.  And you are in His hand.  No matter WHAT you are facing, God is bigger.
3. You need a little bit of experience.  But only a little.
David was only a youth.  Goliath had much more experience.

David had never conquered a giant before.

But he had seen God help him with lions and bears

(1 Sam 17:37 KJV)  David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

It’s not quite that the victory over a lion and a bear were “teeny victories”.  Anyone here want to take on a lion or a bear with just a sling and a club?

Part of the process of becoming a giant-killer is learning to face the challenges of life as they come.


How to conquer a giant

1. Faith
David said (vs. 37)

The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine

David wasn’t confident in his own abilities.  He was confident in God’s abilities.

Victory in spiritual battles requires faith.  It requires that we trust that God will indeed help us.

(Mat 17:14-21 KJV)  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, {15} Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. {16} And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. {17} Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

I don’t think Jesus is saying this to the man or his son.  He is saying this to the disciples for their lack of faith.

{18} And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. {19} Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? {20} And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. {21} Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

They didn’t have victory because they didn’t have faith.  I think the mention of prayer and fasting is that these are things that can strengthen our faith.

Do you believe that God wants to help you?  Do you think He can help you?
2.  Use unusual weapons
David didn’t face Goliath with the kinds of weapons others thought he should have.

David said, “the LORD saveth not with sword and spear” (vs.45)

We too have unusual weapons, spiritual weapons.

(2 Cor 10:4-5 KJV)  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

One of our weapons is prayer.

When Peter had been arrested by Herod and was about to be put to death, the church responded by being in an all-night prayer meeting  (Acts 12).  God responded to their prayers by sending an angel to release Peter.

Another or our weapons is the Word of God.

(Heb 4:12 KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Jesus answered Satan’s temptations (Mat. 4) by quoting Scripture.

Another weapon is the name of Jesus.

David said, “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts …”

(Acts 3:6 KJV)  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

(Acts 16:18 KJV)  But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

Not exactly the kinds of things we normally reach for in a battle, or do we?
3.  Go
vs.48  David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
If God is leading, then run to the battle, not from it.