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David Did Not Kill Goliath With His Slingshot

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

david-did-not-kill-goliath-with-his-sling

Many people, including preachers and Sunday school teachers, still have a problem explaining that David did not kill Goliath twice. They argue that the Bible says so.

The Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language. However, people read it in their native language. There is no contradiction when 1 Samuel 17:49-51 is read or explained according to two different Hebrew words that are used.

What the Bible Says

According to 1 Samuel 17:49-51, "David put his hand in his bag, took from it a stone and slung it, striking the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, struck the Philistine down and killed him. Since there was no sword in David’s hand, David ran, stood over the Philistine, picked up his sword, drew it from its sheath, slew him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled."

When we read the above account, we might think that David killed Goliath twice. We might also think there is a contradiction by saying David killed Goliath in one verse and then in the very next verse, we see that he slew him.

So, did David literally kill Goliath with a stone and the very next moment kill the giant with a sword? Most biblical scholars believe David dealt a mortal blow to Goliath with his sling and a stone, and then finished him off with the giant’s own sword.

This video explains in detail how people make the mistake of thinking Goliath was killed twice.

According to the Hebrew Words

In Hebrew, the word for die in Verse 50 is hiphil. It means when David used his slingshot, a mortal blow went to the forehead of Goliath, but he did not die instantaneously. In other words, he was dying, but not quite dead yet. His death was imminent but not immediate.

In Verse 51, there is another Hebrew word for killing. It is polel. This word means to make death certain and immediate. That shows how David actually finished killing Goliath with Goliath's own sword after he was mortally wounded with David's slingshot.

When the two Hebrews words are introduced into the explanation, it is quite easy to understand that Goliath died only once and not twice.

EnglishHebrewExplanation

to die by slingshot

hiphil

almost dead, mortally wounded; death delayed

to die by sword

polel

to finish dying; instanteously

david-did-not-kill-goliath-with-his-sling

A Simple Conclusion

A simple conclusion is to accept that David mortally wounded Goliath with his sling and one smooth stone. Goliath was as good as dead, but not quite dead. In other words, his death was delayed.

Then David finished the job by using Goliath's own sword, and death was immediate.

Notice at the end of Verse 51, "When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled." They did not flee until they were certain that their champion was dead after his head was cut off.

People will continue to say David killed Goliath with his sling and one stone. David hurled his sling with so much power that the stone went into the center of Goliath's forehead. The 9 feet 6-inch giant was knocked around and fell flat on his face to the ground.

It is more of a miracle to say Goliath was killed with a sling and a stone than to merely say Goliath was killed with his own sword. However, the Bible records both methods of his death. Surely, it would be better to teach it the right way.