I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: Resting in God's Power
R. H. W. Shepherd, a 20th century Scots-born minister and biblical scholar, gave an illustration about putting our trust completely in the Lord regarding all that happens in our lives. He writes:
A visitor was once walking along a high part of the shore of the Dead Sea when he lost his balance and fell into the water. He could not swim and, in desperation lest he should sink and be drowned, he began to fling his arms about. At last he was exhausted and felt he could do no more. Then he found something happened. The water bore him up. The water of the Dead Sea is so heavy with salt and other minerals that when he lay still in it he found he floated on the surface. He could not drown so long as he resigned himself to the power of the deep. So too with us. There is a power beneath us and around us waiting to bear us up. We should cease from all our floundering and fruitless efforts and let the power of God under-gird us.
There is no doubt that King David, arguably the most famous and influential King that Israel ever had in their history, underwent many trials in his life. In these trials he had to allow the God of his fathers to under-gird him many times. And one of those occasions was when he was just a boy. It was the occasion when he fought and won against the Philistine warrior and giant, Goliath.
This event, recorded in I Samuel 17, happened in 1025 B.C. when David was only 15 years old. That was the same year that he was anointed king by the prophet Samuel. As a matter of fact, we can read about his anointing in chapter 16, just before this event took place. However, Saul is still acting as the king at this point and does so until his death 15 years later. Then David takes over at the age of 30.
In this familiar and popular Bible story we can see many of the attributes that a follower of the God of the Bible should display. It is a tale of faith and courage as well as resting in God's power to help us overcome what seems to be impossible odds. When we realize, as David did, that the battle doesn't belong to us anyway but to the Lord, we can make it through any situation that Satan and the world can throw at us.
With all this in mind, let us look closer at the story of David and Goliath.
I. Goliath's Challenge to Israel (17:1-12)
We begin by looking at the challengers who sought to defeat the armies of the living God. Goliath was a huge opponent from the land of the Philistines. Now the Philistines were an ancient people who lived in the South coast of Canaan from the 12th century B.C. until 604 B.C. when, after years of subjugation by the Assyrians, they were finally destroyed by the Babylonians, lead by King Nebuchadnezzar II.
After that they disappeared from history. But at the time of David, they were a very strong nation and were the enemies of Israel.
The Philistines were proud of their champion, Goliath of Gath. Scripture makes it plain that Goliath was extremely large. His height was six cubits and a span which is roughly 9 feet nine inches tall. And he was obviously quite strong. He had a bronze helmet on his head and the scale-armor that he was wearing, Scripture tells us, was five thousand shekels of bronze or about 125 pounds.
Goliath had greaves on his legs. Greaves are pieces of armor meant to protect the shins. Along with that was a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of the spear was said to be the size of a weavers beam and the head of the spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron or 15 pounds.
It took a lot to wear all of that equipment and still be able to be a champion fighter like Goliath. Scripture is trying to make it very plain that David didn't really stand a chance by himself against this ominous foe. In human terms alone, Goliath was invincible. But David wasn't afraid because he relied upon the Lord to save him and to save God's people.
In this battle that has now become famous, the two armies are gathered on opposite sides of a Valley. The Scripture tells us that the Philistines were camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephesdamim. Socoh and Azekah were two towns in Judah approximately 15 miles West and 17 miles Northwest of Bethelem respectively. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the Valley of Elah 3 miles East of where the Philistines were. After they gathered for battle, the Philistines were on a mountain on one side and the Israelites on the other. Then Goliath brings his challenge to God's people.
This monster of a man went out with only his sword carrier ahead of him and he defied and taunted the men of Israel. He shouted to them, saying:
" Why do you come out to draw up in battle array! Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us!" (8-9).
Goliath was a proud man and didn't think he could be conquered by anyone. He went on to continue his taunt of the people of Israel:
"I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together!"
Sadly, neither Saul nor any of the other warriors of Israel were willing to fight him. They had proven themselves to be greatly concerned with outward appearances. They were influenced by the fear of men and forgot for whom and with whom they were fighting. And it took a boy of 15 with a great heart of courage and faith to remind them of it.
But just who was this young but courageous man? Who was this boy who dared to defy a warrior almost 10 feet tall and the whole army of the Philistines?
II. The Identity of David (17:12-24)
In many ways David was just an ordinary Jewish boy who had a huge faith in a great God. He is said to be the son of the Eprathite of Bethlehem whose name was Jesse. Ephrath is another name for Bethlehem.
We are told that Jesse was an old man by this time who had eight sons. The three oldest went to battle with Saul. Their names were Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah. Out of the eight, David was the youngest.
David's duties were divided between his job with Saul as one of the many armor-bearers and tending his father's sheep in Bethlehem. It was on one of his trips back to the field where Israel was fighting that he first heard about Goliath who had been coming forward for forty days, both morning and evening, harassing the people of God and trying to get one of them to fight him.
Jesse had asked David to take his brothers some food and some cheese to one of the commanders there. He also wanted David to bring him word of what was going on at the battle front.
David did all that his father asked and went to the valley of Elah, where Israel was fighting. He heard the war cries as Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array against one another.
David left his baggage with the baggage keeper and ran to the battle line to greet his brothers. Then Goliath came out and started his taunt once again. And David watched in disbelief as the men of Israel fled from the giant of a man because of their great fear.
III. David Accepts Goliath's Challenge (17:25-40)
However, young David wasn't afraid. Goliath was not only defying Israel but was also defying God Himself. And His anger at the blasphemy of this Philistine far exceeded any fear of Him.
In talking to some of the men, this brave warrior found out that Saul was offering a reward for the person who kills this trash talking enemy of the Lord. He would receive great riches, the hand of the king's daughter and would be free in Israel.
However, David was more concerned about the reproach that Goliath was bringing on the nation and on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And he says:
"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God!" (26).
Of course Eliab, David's oldest brother, got angry at David, as big brothers often do. He probably got angry because he should have been the one to say what his little brother was saying. Eliab should have stepped up and accepted the challenge of Goliath. However he was just as afraid as everyone else. But that didn't stop the young warrior. He turned away from his brother and kept asking questions to find out what was happening and he refused to back down.
At last someone told Saul about this young brave boy and Saul sent for David. Even though Saul was skeptical of what would happen if this boy went out and took on Goliath, David convinced him to let him go. Though David was but a youth and Goliath had been a warrior since his youth, this brave boy convinced King Saul to let him fight.
David told Saul the account about how he had tended his father's sheep and was able to fend off the attacks of lions and bears and killed them. He told Saul:
"The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!"
When Saul relented, he gave to David his armor. David tried it but opted out because he hadn't attempted to fight with armor before. So the boy took only the tools of a shepherd: A stick, 5 smooth stones from a brook, which he put in his shepherd's bag, and a sling. However, greater still, he took his faith in Almighty God. And the shepherd boy confronted the warrior.
IV. David Slays Goliath (17:41-58)
Goliath didn't know what he was up against. He came with his shield-bearer in front of him. And opposite them stood little David. What a sight that must have been to see a 15 year old boy challenging one who had fought against and defeated some of the greatest warriors in the world. When he looked at the handsome young lad he scoffed:
"Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?" (43).
And Goliath cursed David by his gods and said:
Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field!" (44).
However, the Philistine didn't realize that there was an unseen friend that was fighting on David's behalf. The youth knew God was with him. And David tells Goliath:
"You come to me with sword and spear, and 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 taunted! This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know the there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into my hands!" (45-47).
With that David runs quickly up to the giant Philistine. He put his hand into his bag and took a stone and slung it at him. He struck Goliath in his forehead. The stone sank deep into his skull which caused him to fall face down to the ground. (48-49)
David then completed his promise to Goliath by cutting off his head with his own sword. With that the rest of the Philistines fled and the men of Israel and Judah pursued, slaying many of them. David took Goliath's head to Jerusalem but put the weapons in his tent.
He later was brought before King Saul with the Philistine's head in his hand, once again telling Saul, who had asked him again, that he was the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite.
And God showed a nation and a king that He was the one in charge of Israel and the world, by using a small boy with a gigantic faith (50-58).
Now that we've examined David and Goliath, we can see that it is a great story from the Old Testament. However, it isn't merely a story. It's, in fact, an account of how someone trusted in God for the life of his people and saw the Lord come through and do what most would say was impossible. Saul and the rest of Israel looked at Goliath and thought they were viewing an enemy too big to fight. David looked at Goliath and saw a target too big to miss.
Instead of concentrating on himself and the problem that was overwhelming him and the nation, David concentrated on the God who is awe-inspiring in His power and might.
Further, David could have looked at what was going on at the battlefield and said to himself: "I'm too young to do anything to help." I'm just a boy. But David knew that youth has nothing to do with God's plans or God's abilities. If He wants to use you, then He can do great things through you no matter what your age. And that includes those who think that they are too old to be used by God as well. It's not about your lack of ability and power. It's all about God showing His glory and power through you.
So I beg you today, don't leave this beautiful account in the past. God has not changed. He is still Lord over all the Goliaths in your life. And he has a stone for every one of them.
What giant are you facing today? Maybe your Goliath is financial. You may be facing problems with bills you can't pay. Trust in God. He will provide.
Or perhaps you are facing the giant of health issues. God created your body and can help you overcome any ailment. And if He doesn't, like He didn't for the Apostle Paul with his thorn in the flesh, God can use your weakness to show forth His strength.
You may be having relationship problems. Put God first, give your problems to Him and you'll be surprised by the way He works things out in your life.
The bottom line to this is that we are not alone in our fights and struggles in life. We have a God who can beat any Goliath. For He beat the greatest giant in our lives at the Cross of Calvary when He freed us from eternal death and separation from Him in Hell. Any other problem is minor and temporary compared to that.
So remember that the God of the universe has never lost a battle yet and never will. With Him we have the ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us rest in His mighty power. For in Him we are more than conquerors.
© 2020 Jeff Shirley