I Samuel 17
ADVANCE OF DAVID IN REPUTATION
BY THE SLAUGHTER OF GOLIATH
1 “Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and
together at Shochoh, which belongeth
pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.”
The Philistines gathered together their armies. As the object
of the historian is not to give us an account of the Philistine wars, but only
to record the manner of David’s ripening for the kingly office, nothing is
said as to the space of time which had elapsed between Saul’s victory at
Michmash and the present invasion. We are, however, briefly told that
“there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul” (ch.14:52),
and apparently this inroad took place very many years after Saul’s establishment
upon the throne. The Philistine camp was at Ephesdammim, called Pas-dammim
in I Chronicles 11:13. The best explanation of the word gives as its meaning
the boundary of blood, so called from the continual fighting which took place
there upon the borders. Shochoh, spelled more correctly Socoh in Joshua 15:35,
was one of fourteen villages enumerated there as lying in the Shephelah,
described by Conder (‘Tent Work,’ 2:156) as a region of “low hills of limestone,
frowning a distinct district between the plain and the watershed
mountains.’’ In this district Socoh lay northeast of Eleutheropolis (Bethjibrin),
midway between it and Beth-shemesh, from each of which places it
was distant about eight or nine miles. It is now called Shuweikeh. For
Azekah see Joshua 10:10.
2 “And Saul and the men of
by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.
3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side,
on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.”
(‘Tent Work,’ 2:160) describes the spot from personal observation thus: “Saul,
coming down by the highway from the
on one of the low hills; and between the two hosts was the gai or ravine.” In the
Authorized Version no exactness of rendering is ever attempted, and both the emek,
the broad strath or
narrow, precipitous ravine, are equally rendered valley. Really the gai is most
remarkable, and fully explains how the two hosts could remain in face of one
another so long without fighting; for Conder proceeds, “Two points require to be
made clear as to the episode of David’s battle with Goliath: one was the
meaning of the expression gai or ravine; the other was the source whence
David took the ‘smooth stones.’ A visit to the spot explains both. In the
middle of the broad, open valley we found a deep trench with vertical
sides, impassable except at certain places — a valley in a valley, and a
natural barrier between the two hosts. The sides and bed of this trench are
strewn with rounded and waterworn pebbles, which would have been well
fitted for David’s sling. Here, then, we may picture to ourselves the two
hosts, covering the low, rocky hills opposite to each other, and half hidden
among the lentisk bushes. Between them was the rich expanse of ripening
barley, and the red banks of the torrent, with its white, shingly bed. Behind
all were the distant blue hill walls of
down. The mail clad champion advanced from the west through the low
corn, with his mighty lance perhaps tufted with feathers, his brazen helmet
shining in the sun. From the east a ruddy boy in his white shirt and sandals,
armed with a goat’s hair sling, came down to the brook, and, according to
the poetic fancy of the Rabbis, the pebbles were given voices, and cried,
‘By us shalt thou overcome the giant.’ The champion fell from an unseen
cause, and the wild Philistines fled to the mouth of the
stood towering on its white chalk cliff, a frontier fortress, the key to the
high road leading to the corn lands of
4 “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines,
named Goliath, of
5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed
with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand
shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a
target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was
like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels
of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.” A champion. Literally,
“a man of the two middles,” i.e. one who enters the space between the two armies
in order to decide the contest by a single combat. Of
town is mentioned, together
inhabitants men of the race of Anak. Whose height was six cubits and a span.
In our measure his height was eight feet five and one-third inches; for the cubit
is sixteen inches, and the span (really the hand-breadth) is five and one-third
inches. A span, sit, is eight inches, but the word used here is zereth. See on
these measures, Conder, ‘Handbook,’ p. 79. This height, though very
great, has been attained to in modern times. Armed with a coat of mail.
Literally, “clothed in a shirt of scales,” i.e. a corselet made of metal scales
sewn on cloth so as to overlap one another. It was flexible, and protected
the back and sides as well as the front. Five thousand shekels of brass.
Really copper, as brass was then unknown. Conder gives the shekel as
equal to two-thirds of an ounce. This would make the corselet weigh at
least two hundred weight, an enormous load to carry even for a short time.
Goliath’s other equipments correspond in heaviness, and largely exceed the
weight of medieval suits of armor. Greaves of brass upon his legs. The
thighs were protected by the corselet, so that only the legs required
defensive armour. This would account for the weight of the corselet, as it
was much longer than the cuirass, as worn by the Greeks and Romans. A
target. Really, “a javelin.” It was carried at the back, ready to be taken in
the hand and thrown at the enemy when required. The versions have a
different reading — magan, shield, for chidon, javelin. The shield was
carried before him by an armor bearer. The staff. The written text has a
word which usually signifies shaft, arrow, for which the Kri substitutes
wood, the noun actually found in II Samuel 21:19; I Chronicles 20:5;
but most probably the word used here is an archaic name for the
handle or staff of a spear. Six hundred shekels. The weight of the iron
head of the spear would be about twenty-five pounds. However tall and
strong Goliath may have been, yet with all this vast weight of metal his
movements must have been slow and unready. He was got up, in fact, more
to tell upon the imagination than for real fighting, and though, like a castle,
he might have been invincible if attacked with sword and spear, he was
much too encumbered with defensive armor to be capable of assuming the
offensive against a light armed enemy. To David belongs the credit of
seeing that the Philistine champion was a huge imposition.
8 “And he stood and cried unto the armies of
them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a
Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and
let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me,
then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him,
then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said,
I defy the armies
11 When Saul and all
were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” He stood and cried unto the armies.
Literally, “the ranks,” the word being the noun formed from the verb translated
set in array, just below. The same word is used throughout (see vs. 10, 20-22,
26, 45). Am not I a Philistine? Hebrew, “the Philistine,” the champion
on their side. I defy the armies. Hebrew, “I have cast scorn or insult upon
the ranks of
as that they were dishonored by not accepting his challenge. They were
dismayed. That is, terrified, and made uncertain what to do (compare
Jeremiah 50:36). We have seen from Mr. Condor’s account that each
army held an impregnable position on the two sides of the ravine, which
neither could cross without the certainty of being defeated in the attempt
by the other side. Under such circumstances there seemed no way of
deciding the contest except by a single combat. But though Saul and his
warriors were too terrified at Goliath’s appearance to venture to meet him,
still they held their ground for forty days, inasmuch as it was evidently
impossible for him to cross the ravine clad in such cumbrous armor, nor
did the Philistines venture to make the attempt, as the Israelites would have
taken them at a manifest disadvantage.
Aggression not Defense (vs. 1-11)
The facts are:
1. The armies of
2. A gigantic champion, heavily armed and proud of his strength,
challenges any one of Saul’s army to a personal encounter, and with lofty
words defies the armies of
3. Saul and his men are in great fear.
The episode given by the sacred writer is one of those occurrences likely to arise
under the conditions of ancient warfare. It must be viewed by us as one of the
the notice of
immediately affecting him.
was under the influence of a mere love of fighting. It was not a question of
rightness or wrongness, but of slaying or being slain. The modicum of
patriotism was overlaid by the lust of contention. This passion dwells more
or less in all men. Its mildest form is a contentious spirit — a quarrelsome
temper, a desire to try our strength against others. It has found wide and
pernicious scope in the history of nations. There is a tendency to foster this
unhallowed spirit even in civilized, so called Christian countries. The
profession of soldier, the pomp of military parade, the zest with which
battles are described, the haze of glory thrown around the unutterable
horrors of war, and rivalry among men for distinction in action — all show
that the war spirit is fostered. Is it not true that a mere desire to find actual
occupation in fighting determines the first choice of multitudes in entering
on warlike enterprises? The evils of this spirit are patent. In itself it is a
debasement of our nature. The God of peace and love is our Father, and
we are to be His children in the spirit that governs us. The execution of law
and right is a totally different thing. The woes it has brought on the world,
Ø suspicions, and
Ø engendered vices,
can never be told. It is the duty of every Christian to strive to crush it out, by
careful training of the young, by discouragement of popular passions, by
enforcement of the teaching and Spirit of Christ, and by earnest prayer
that the Church may be firm in protest against it.
This giant thought himself mighty, and he boasted in his
strength. Boastfulness in any form is disgraceful. Man is not in a position
to magnify himself on any possession, for it is as a shadow, and may
quickly vanish. Pride in mere physical strength is the lowest form of
boasting, save that in actual vice. A quick, bright, intelligent mind is of
more account than height of stature and strength of limb. Yet self-
satisfaction in intellectual qualities and powers is evidence of a moral
weakness which renders man inferior in the higher realms of life. We have
need to learn that man at his best estate is vanity (Psalm 39:5); that it is not
by might nor by power that the highest achievements are wrought in the
THINGS. The natural order is that which follows from the normal
constitution and relations of
things. By appointment
possessors of the land. The promise had read thus: Be true and obedient,
and ye shall possess the land in peace, and be exalted above all nations
(Deuteronomy 28:1-13). Had the conditions been faithfully observed,
GOD long ere the days of David would have subdued their enemies
(Psalm 81:13-16). Or, had new enemies trespassed on their borders,
we are in the state of fear now. It is directly associated with our turning
our back on God! – CY – 2016) Aggression on the foes of God and man is
the work of God’s people; there is a reversion of the natural order when they
are barely able to hold their own, and tremble at the aggressive onslaughts of
the foe. The attitude and work of the Church in relation to the manifold forms
of evil in
the world is not inaptly indicated in
abominable nations that once held and begirt the promised land — namely,
aggression till the earth is subdued to Christ. If there are defiant systems
she has been unfaithful in her aggressive work. If we do not make
aggression on the domain of sin, the forces of evil will gain power and
make positive aggression on the domain of religion. Vices of all kinds,
and infidelity in brazen forms, flourish and become more than defensive
in action when Christians lose faith in their mission and sink to the level
of other men. Not even the vilest of men nor the hardiest unbeliever will
venture to assail a pure and very devoted spiritual life.
“They were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (v. 11).
1. The renewed attempt
of the Philistines to subjugate
comparison with their former invasion, a decrease of power. They did not
penetrate into the heart of the land (ch. 13:5), but advanced only a short distance
from their own border, and “pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in
Ephes-dammim,” a dozen miles
driven back and held in check.
2. It could hardly have been possible, but for the rashness of Saul in “the
war of Michmash,” by which the opportunity of inflicting a fatal blow was
lost. Hearing, perhaps, of his condition, and perceiving signs of the laxity
of his rule, they sought to repair their defeat.
3. It found the people
prepared to repel the aggression.
Although they went to meet the enemy, and encamped opposite to them, they did
nothing more. In the spirit of a better time they would have immediately fallen
upon them in reliance upon “the Lord of hosts” (Deuteronomy 32:30); but now
they were paralysed with fear, especially at the appearance of the gigantic
champion who came out against them. The Philistines desired to make the issue
depend on a single combat between this man and any Israelitish warrior
who might be appointed to meet him; and he “drew near morning and
evening, and presented himself forty days” (v. 16). A similar fear has
sometimes pervaded the Christian community in the presence of the enemy.
Ø Their number is great. They consist not merely of one or two, but of a
host of giants.
o Within: carnal affections, corrupt tendencies, proud thoughts, evil
imaginations, and wrathful passions.
o Without: ignorance, error, unbelief, superstition, intemperance,
licentiousness, worldliness, and “all ungodliness.”
o In the background of all “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
Ø Their appearance is imposing. They seem to be possessed of
extraordinary might, and arrayed in terrible armor, and are of great
renown. “Am I not that Philistine” (v. 8), who has exhibited such
prowess and slain so many foes? “He arose, and came, and drew nigh, like
a stalking mountain, overlaid with brass and iron” (Matthew Henry).
Ø Their attitude is proud, boastful, defiant, contemptuous, and
increasingly confident of victory as day after day the challenge is renewed,
and no one dares to answer it. “The first challenge to a duel that we ever
find came out of the mouth of an uncircumcised Philistine” (Hall). How
often has the contemplation of such adversaries filled even good men with
dismay! While we measure our natural strength against the forces of evil
our case is hopeless. “Who is sufficient for these things?”
Ø Distrust of God and alienation from him. Faith prevents fear. It looks to
God, judges of the power of the enemy in the light of His omnipotence,
unites to Him, and inspires with unbounded courage (v. 47; ch.14:6); but
unbelief is blind and weak and fearful (Matthew 8:26). And dismay in great
emergencies reveals the absence or feebleness of faith in the preceding and
ordinary course of life.
Ø Outward acts of disobedience to the Divine will diminishing moral
power, and producing inward distraction and dread.
Ø Sympathy with a faithless leader, and participation in the “spirit of fear”
(II Timothy 1:7) which he possesses. Saul had forsaken the Lord. He
had not the presence of Samuel with him; nor, apparently, that of the high
priest; nor did he seek the Divine counsel as aforetime. He ruled
independently of Jehovah; and the people loved too much “to have it so”
(Jeremiah 5:31), sharing in his faithlessness and fear. A faithless and
fearful leader cannot have faithful and fearless followers.
the enemy, and echoed in the conscience of the people, on account of:
Ø The cowardice of their conduct.
Ø The inconsistency of their position, as professed servants of the living
God: unfaithful to their calling, trembling before the votaries of “gods that
were no gods” (v. 44), and bringing dishonor upon the name of
Jehovah. “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through
you” (Romans 2:24; Proverbs 25:26).
Ø The likelihood of their defeat, of which it is a virtual acknowledgment,
and to which it must infallibly conduct, unless a better spirit be infused
into them. “How is it that ye have not faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Learn that in our greatest extremity God does not abandon His people to despair,
but provides for them “a way of escape.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
DAVID’S VISIT TO THE CAMP
inserted in the Alexandrian copy by Origen. It is found, however, in the other
versions; and possibly this treatment of David’s history as of a person unknown,
just after the account given of him in ch. 16., did not seem so strange to readers
in old time as it does to us, with whom reading is so much more easy an
accomplishment. It is, nevertheless, one of the many indications that the
Books of Samuel, though compiled from contemporaneous documents,
were not arranged in their present form till long afterwards. It was only
gradually that Samuel’s schools dispersed throughout the country men
trained in reading and writing, and trained up scholars capable of keeping
the annals of each king’s reign. The Books of Kings were, as we know,
compiled from these annals; but probably at each prophetic school there
would be stored up copies of Psalms written for their religious services,
ballads such as those in the Book of Jashar, and in the Book of the Wars of
Jehovah, narratives of stirring events like this before us, and histories both
of their own chiefs, such as was Samuel, and afterwards Elijah and Elisha,
and also of the kings. There is nothing remarkable, therefore, at finding
information repeated; and having had in the previous narrative an account
of a passing introduction of David to Saul as a musician, which led to little
at the time, though subsequently David stood high in Saul’s favor because
of his skill upon the harp, we here have David’s introduction to Saul as a warrior.
12 “Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem-judah, whose
name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for
an old man in the days of Saul. 13 And the three eldest sons of Jesse went
and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went
to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the
third Shammah. 14 And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed
Saul.” Jesse… went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. This
translation is taken from the Vulgate; but the Hebrew is, “And
the man in the days of Saul was old, gone among men.” Some explain this
as meaning “placed,” i.e. “reckoned among men of rank;” but probably an
aleph has dropped out in the word rendered men, and we should read
“gone,” i.e. “advanced in years.” Old is used in a very indefinite way in the
Books of Samuel; but as Jesse had eight sons, of whom the youngest was
now grown up, he must have been nearly sixty. Went and followed.
Hebrew, “And there went the three elder sons of Jesse went after Saul to
the war.” Some grammarians consider that this repetition of the verb is
intended to give it the force of a pluperfect, — they had gone,—but it is
more probably an error, and one of the two verbs should be omitted.
15 “But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep
important statement, as it shows that the writer, in spite of what is said in
vs. 55-58, knew that David had visited Saul at his court, and become
personally known to him. Apparently it had been but a short visit, possibly
because after the fit of melancholy had passed away there was no return of
it for the present; and if David had been back at
years, a young man changes so much in appearance at David’s time of life
that it is no wonder that neither Saul nor Abner recognized him in his
shepherd’s dress. For some reason, then, or other David had not remained
with Saul at Gibeah, but had
resumed his pastoral life at
the statements made in ch. 16:21-23 belong to the time immediately after
the combat with Goliath, and not before.
16 “And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented
himself forty days. 17 And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy
brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the
camp of thy brethren; 18 And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of
their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of
Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” The Philistine .... presented himself.
I.e. took his stand (see on ch.10:23; 12:7, 16). This verse takes up the narrative,
disturbed by the inserted explanation about David’s family relations. The
extraordinary formation of the ground, as described in v. 3, shows how it
was possible for this challenge to go on for forty days without either army
advancing or retiring. During this long time it seems to have been the
business of the friends at home to supply the combatants with food, and so
Jesse sends David with an ephah, about three pecks, of parched corn —
as the word is spelled in the Hebrew it means “parched pease.” Also ten
loaves, and, for the captain of their thousand, ten cheeses — rather, “ten
slices of fresh curd.” David was also to take their pledge. Apparently
neither Eliab nor his brethren could write, and therefore they would send
back to their father some token previously agreed upon to show that they
were in good health, and had received the supplies sent them. Now Saul,
etc. This is a part of Jesse’s speech, telling David where he would find his
brethren. For were, the right translation is, “They are in the terebinth
valley, fighting with the Philistines.”
Cooperation in Spiritual Warfare (vs. 12-19)
The facts are:
1. Three of Jesse’s sons are with the army opposing the Philistines.
2. David, being
relieved from attendance on Saul, keeps the flock at
3. Jesse sends David to the camp with provisions, and instructs him to look
after the welfare of his brethren.
It is possible that Jesse may have surmised that some considerable developments
would soon arise out of Samuel’s recent visit to
interest taken in young David. At all events, it was providential that he sent him
from caring for sheep to care for his brethren on the battlefield. Leaving out of view
the moral condition of
we may regard the army of Saul as being engaged in the service of the living
God (vs. 26, 36), virtually against the foes of the kingdom of the Messiah. David’s
visit to the army with provisions and messages relating to the welfare of his soldier
brothers, therefore, brings out the relation that should subsist between those
engaged in open conflict in the service of God and such as are not called to
serve in that form.
SPECIALLY ENGAGED IN OPEN CONFLICT WITH SIN. The
should devote themselves to the campaign as soldiers. Combination under
the guidance of skill would effect what isolated private effort could not
touch. In the Christian economy every true follower of Christ is a soldier,
following the lead of the Captain of our salvation. Nevertheless, the
circumstances in which Christians find themselves demand that some
should be more emphatically fighting men, to undertake, in combination
with others, arduous work which can never be done by Christians in a
private and isolated capacity. Hence we have men, separated from various
occupations, consecrating all their time and energies not merely in defense
of the gospel, but in making war upon the manifold evils which obstruct
the triumph of Christ. These sustain a relation to others, whose time is
otherwise employed on purely personal pursuits, similar to that of the army
at Elah to the Jesses and Davids engaged in domestic and rural occupations.
INTERESTS AND CLAIMS THE SUPPORT OF ALL. Obviously every
All that free people hold precious was at stake. If it was in the power of
non-combatants to render aid, clearly it ought to be forthcoming. In a
higher and wider sense is it true that the business of Christ’s soldiers at
home and abroad is the business of the entire body of believers, irrespective
of age, position, or ability. The Church is one body, and the sufferings or
pleasures of one member are of moment to all the members. The feeling
which suggests that certain efforts to save men are no concern but to those
engaged in them is unintelligent and unchristian. The call to hold forth the
word of truth is to the one body of the faithful. Our sympathy with Christ’s
mission is real only as we identify our hopes, and aspirations, and
endeavors with those of all who have the “same mind.” Consequently,
every consideration of humanity, of brotherly regard, of love for Christ,
and joy in His advancing conquests, should stimulate aid to those on the
high places of the field.
MAY RENDER SUBSTANTIAL AID IN THIS WARFARE. Jesse’s
forethought and David’s readiness contributed to the strength and
encouragement of the absent
warriors. Likewise every one in
aid in the conflict by contributions of food and clothing, and by cherished
sympathy and prayer. In modern nations every member of the community
renders assistance in war, by payment of taxes, combination of counsel,
deep and variously expressed sympathy, and that quota from each one
which makes up the sum of support to be found in public opinion. The
means by which the scattered members of Christ’s Church can fulfill their
duty to their brethren devoted entirely to the campaign against sin are
varied and effective.
Ø By loyally bearing the common cause on the heart. This may become a
habit if we will but make an intelligent study of what is due from us. Its
value to the distant and near soldiers of the cross is clear to the spiritual
eye. Moral natures are knit together by subtle bonds.
Ø By special acts and seasons of prayer. Emphasis given to our general
sympathy by special pleading with God on behalf of His faithful servants is
the all-powerful means of taking our share in the one great conflict. Even
the greatest of apostles felt that he would do his work better if friends
would but respond to his appeal, “Brethren, pray for us.” (II Thessalonians
3:1) This is an aid which may be rendered by young and old, hale and
weak, the rich and poor. Only eternity will reveal how much, among the
many concurring causes that issue at last in THE FULL TRIUMPH OF
CHRIST is due to the prayers even of the helpless invalids, and poor,
unheard of saints that dwell in cottage homes.
Moral and material support. We may seize opportunities for assuring
our brethren, whose hearts are often faint and weary, that we do carry their
cares and sorrows, and do regard their work as ours. We rob devoted men
of strength when we are reluctant of letting them know our deep interest in
them. The material support is also within the reach of most. To devote a
portion of our means to Christ’s cause is a great privilege. Had the Church
devoted half on Christian enterprise that has been devoted to questionable
self-indulgences, the joys of men and angels would ere this have been
Parental Solicitude (vs. 17-18)
Family life occupies a prominent place in the Books of Samuel, and the
affectionate concern of parents for their children is often mentioned (see
ch. 2:24; 10:2). Jesse, who, in consequence of his advanced age
(v. 12), was himself unable to go against the Philistines, had his three
elder sons in the army of
weeks, sent their youngest brother with provisions for their need, to make
inquiries about their welfare, and “take their token,” by which he might be
assured thereof. Such solicitude as he displayed is:
Ø Arising out of the instinctive affection which is felt by parents.
Ø Continuing throughout the whole of life.
Ø Commended by the heavenly Father, who puts it into the heart; and
often illustrated, directed, and regulated by the teachings of His word
(Genesis 18:19; 22:2; II Samuel 18:33; Ephesians 6:4; I Timothy 5:8).
Ø Of the distance of children from home, and of their deprivation of
parental oversight, counsel, and restraint.
Ø Of their need: temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
Ø Of their peril: from their own tendencies, their intimate associations, and
their open enemies.
Ø In sending them presents of that which is best adapted to their wants.
Ø By the hand of a brother (Genesis 37:14; 43:11).
Ø With the request of a token of affectionate regard for the gratification of
a heart that desires and seeks their happiness.
toward man” (Titus 3:4). The relation of an earthly father to his
children is a shadow of that of the heavenly Father to men; it was doubtless
appointed from the first to be such, and the loving care which arises out of
it is, in comparison with that of the “Father of spirits,” only as a ray of light
compared with the sun. This also is:
Ø Natural and spontaneous, for “GOD IS LOVE!”
Ø Considerate (Psalm 103:13-14). “In thee the fatherless findeth
mercy” (Hosea 14:3).
Ø Practical. “I have loved you, saith the Lord,” etc. (Malachi 1:2;
Matthew 7:11; John 3:16).
Ø To parents. Let your kindness to your children be such as accords with
that of your heavenly Father to you, and as affords a true image of it.
Ø To children. Show kindness to your parents in return for their kindness
to you (ch. 22:3), as your heavenly Father requires.
Ø To all. “If I be a father, where is mine honour?” (Malachi 1:6).
20 “ And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a
keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he
came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and
shouted for the
battle. 21 For
battle in array, army against army. 22 And David left his carriage in
the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came
and saluted his brethren.” He came to the trench. More probably the barricade,
or outer circle of defense for their camp, made of their wagons (see on ch. 10:22).
Strictly the word means a wagon track, but the primary meaning of
the verb is to be round. This was the shape of camps in old time, and they
were protected against surprise by having the wagons and baggage placed
round them. The word occurs again in ch. 26:5, 7. The latter part
of the verse is literally, “And he came to the circle of the wagons, and to
the host that was going forth to the array; and they shouted for the battle.”
If the article be omitted before “going forth,” for which there is some
authority, the rendering of the Authorized Version would be right. David left his
carriage. I.e. that which he was carrying. The word is rendered stuff in
ch. 10:22; 25:13; 30:24. Literally the word means utensils, and
so whatever he had with him for any purpose (compare Acts 21:15). Ran
into the army. Literally, “to the array,” “to the ranks,” the place where the
troops were drawn up (see v. 10).
23 “And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion,
the Philistine of
Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David
heard them. 24 And all the men of
fled from him,
and were sore afraid.” The
champion, the Philistine of
Goliath by name. The Hebrew is, “The champion (see on v. 4), Goliath the
Philistine his name, of
record. Out of the armies, or ranks. This is a very probable correction of
the Kri, made by restoring a letter which has apparently dropped out. The
word in the written text might mean “the open space between the two
armies;” but it occurs nowhere else, and this space was chiefly occupied by
the ravine. The
haste from the edge of the ravine, which Goliath could no more have
crossed, encased in armor weighing two and a half hundred-weight, than
a knight could have done in the middle ages. In v. 40 we read that it was
out of this ravine that David selected his pebbles, and, being encumbered
with no armor, it was easy for him to climb up the other side and attack
his heavily armed opponent.
25 “And the men
surely to defy
who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and
will give him his
daughter, and make his father’s house free in
26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall
be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the
he should defy the armies of the living God? 27 And the people answered
him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.”
The king will enrich him with great riches,... and make his father’s house
developed the powers of the crown, and the last words show that contributions
were levied from all the
his retinue. There had manifestly been a great advance since the day when
Jesse sent the king a few loaves of bread, a skin of wine, and a kid (ch.16:20).
Still we cannot imagine that Saul had introduced taxes, nor was the political
organization of the State ripe enough for so advanced a state of things. The
words more probably refer to freedom from personal service in the army
and elsewhere; though it is quite possible that on special occasions
contributions may have been levied, and presents, no doubt, were
constantly being made to the king, though on no regular system. Taketh
away the reproach. The noun formed from the verb rendered defy in v.10,
where see note. Uncircumcised. See on ch.14:6. David, like
Jonathan, sees a ground of confidence in the uncovenanted relation of the
Philistine towards God. The living God. A second ground of confidence.
The god of the Philistines was a lifeless idol; Jehovah a Being who proved
His existence by His acts. So shall it be done. As the people all answer
David’s inquiries in the same way, Saul had evidently made a proclamation
to this effect, which we may suppose he fulfilled, though not in the frankest
manner (ch.18:17, 27). (Although this is not a vow, it is a promise and perhaps
Saul stood by his word like many of us do with the following example being
par for the course. CY – 2016)
“It is storied of a merchant that in a great storm at sea vowed to Jupiter, if
he would save him and his vessel, to give him a hecatomb. The storm
ceaseth, and he bethinks that a hecatomb was unreasonable; he resolves on
seven oxen. Another tempest comes, and now again he vows the seven at
least. Delivered, then also he thought that seven were too many, and one
ox would serve his turn. Yet another peril comes, and now he vows
solemnly to fall no lower; if he might be rescued, an ox Jupiter shall have.
Again freed, the ox sticks in his stomach, and he would fain draw his
devotion to a lower rate; a sheep was sufficient. But at last, being set
ashore, he thought a sheep too much, and purposeth to carry to the altar
only a few dates. But by the way he eats up the dates, and lays on the altar
shells. After this manner do many perform their vows” (
vol. 1. p. 112).
28 “And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men;
and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why
camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few
sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of
thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. As David,
with growing indignation at an uncovenanted heathen thus dishonoring
the subjects of the living God, puts eager questions to all around, his elder
brother angrily reproaches him with words full of contempt. Between the
eldest and youngest of eight sons was a vast interval, and Eliab regards
David’s talk as mere pride, or, rather, “presumption,” “impertinence;” and
also as naughtiness, or badness, of heart, probably because he imagined
that David’s object was to provoke some one else to fight, that he might
see the battle. David’s answer is gentle and forbearing, but the last words
are difficult. Is there not a cause? Have not those whom we are ready to
condemn a reason and justification for their conduct? Such a question put
to ourselves might stop much slander and fault finding. But the Hebrew
literally has, Is it not word? And the ancient versions and the best modern
commentators understand by this, “It was but a mere word;” “I was only
talking about this challenge, and was doing no wrong.
30 “And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same
manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.
31 And when the words were heard which David spake, they
rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.” Manner. Literally, word,
the noun translated cause in v. 29, and meaning in both verses “conversation.”
It occurs here thrice, the Hebrew being, “And he spake according to this word:
and the people returned him a word according to the former word.” And as
David thus persisted in his indignant remonstrances at the ranks of the living
God being thus dishonored by no man accepting the challenge, they rehearsed
them before Saul, who thereupon sent for him. And thus David a second
time, and under very different circumstances, found himself again standing
in the king’s presence.
Self-Conquest (vs. 19-31)
“What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (v. 29. Was it not a
word? or, Was it anything more than a word?). In the conflict of life the
first victory which every one should seek to achieve is the victory over
himself. Unless he gain this, he is not likely to gain others, or, if he gain
them, to improve them aright; but if, on the ether hand, he gain it, he is
thereby prepared to gain others, and to follow them up with the greatest
advantage. Such a victory was David’s.
1. He arrived at the wagon rampart when the host was about to make an
advance; leaving there the things he carried, he ran into the ranks to seek
his brethren; and, while talking with them, there stalked forth, as on
previous days, the Philistine champion, at the sight of whom “all the men of
fearless. There was in him more faith than in the whole army. And in
conversing with the men around him he intimated the possible overthrow
of this boastful giant, and the “taking away of the reproach from
and expressed his amazement at the audacity of the man in “defying the
ranks of the living God” (whose presence and power ALL appear to have
2. On hearing his words, and probably surmising that he entertained the
thought of encountering the champion, Eliab was filled with envy and
anger, and reproached him as being out of his proper place, as only fit to
have the charge of a few sheep, and even neglectful of them, and as proud,
discontented with his calling, bad-hearted, and delighting in the sight of
strife and bloodshed, which, he said, he knew, however others might be
deceived. Ah, how little did he really know of his brother’s heart! But
angry men are more desirous of inflicting pain than of uttering the truth.
3. This language would have excited the fierce wrath of most persons. But
David maintained his self-control, and gave the soft answer which “turneth
away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) He thus obtained a victory which was hardly less
noble than that which he shortly afterwards obtained over Goliath. Consider his
self-conquest (with respect to the passion of anger) as:
Ø The contemptuous reproach of a brother. From him at least better things
might have been expected. But natural affection often vanishes before envy
and anger (Genesis 4:8), and is transformed into intense hatred. “There
is no enemy so ready or so spiteful as the domestical” (Hall).
Ø An ungrateful return for kindness. David had come with valuable
presents and kindly inquiries, and this was his reward.
Ø An unjust impugning of motives. “Eliab sought for the splinter in his
brother’s eye, and was not aware of the beam that was in his own;
(Matthew 7:5); the very things with which he charged his brother were
most apparent in his own scornful reproach” (Keil).
Ø An open attack upon reputation. His words were intended to damage
David in the eyes of others, as unworthy of their confidence and regard. All
these things were calculated to exasperate. “Thus David was envied of his
own brethren, herein being a type of Christ, who was rejected of the Jews,
being as it were the eldest brethren, and was received of the Gentiles”
(Wilier). The followers of Christ are often exposed to similar provocation.
“And the strength of a good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing
more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness,
and benevolence of his mind amidst all the storms, injuries, strange
behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable
world (Jonathan Edwards).
Ø Extraordinary meekness and forbearance in enduring reproach. “He
that is slow to wrath is of great understanding,” etc. (Proverbs 14:29;
Ø Firm and instant repression of angry passion. For it could hardly be but
that a flash of indignation should glance into his breast; but “anger resteth
in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
Ø Wise and gentle reserve in the language employed. It is as useless to
reason with the wind as with an angry man. “Set a watch, O Lord, before
my mouth,” etc. (Psalm 141:3).
Ø Continued and steadfast adherence to a noble purpose. David went on
talking “after the same manner” (v. 30). We ought not to suffer ourselves
to be turned from the path of duty by the reproach which we may meet
therein, but we should rather pursue it more diligently than ever, and prove
by our conduct the sincerity and rectitude of our spirit. “He that is slow to
anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that
taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). “It is better to conquer the deceitful
lusts of the
heart than to conquer
“The bravest trophy ever man obtained
Is that which o’er himself, himself hath gained.”
“When thou art offended by others, do not let thy mind dwell upon them,
or on such thoughts as these: — that they ought not so to have treated
thee; who they are; or whom they think themselves to be, and the like; for
all this is fuel, and a kindling of anger, wrath, and hatred. But in such cases
turn instantly to the strength and commands of God, that thou mayest
know what thou oughtest to do, and that thine error be not greater than
theirs. So shalt thou return into the way of peace” (Scupoli). And of this
spirit Christ is the supreme pattern (I Peter 2:21-23).
Ø A sense of peace and Divine approbation. “Angels came and ministered
unto Him” (Matthew 4:11). It is always thus with those who conquer
Ø The purifying and strengthening of faith, by means of the trial to which
it is subjected (I Peter 1:7; James 1:2).
Ø The commendation of character in the sight of others, who commonly
judge of the truth of an accusation by the manner in which it is met, and
naturally confide in a man of calmness, firmness, and lofty purpose. “They
rehearsed them” (his words) “before Saul: and he sent for him” (v. 31).
Ø The preparation of the spirit for subsequent conflict. “Could the second
victory have been achieved if he had failed in the first conflict? His combat
with Goliath demanded an undimmed eye, a steady arm, and a calm heart,
and if he had given way to stormy passion for only a brief season there
would have been a lingering feverishness and nervousness, utterly unfitting
him for the dread struggle on which the fate of two armies and two nations
was depending” (C. Vince).
A Religious Man’s View of Things (vs. 20-30)
The facts are:
1. David arrives at the camp just as preparations are being made for battle.
2. While with his brethren he hears the defiance of Goliath, and observes
the dismay of
3. Being informed of the inducement offered by Saul for any one to slay
Goliath, he makes particular inquiries as to the facts, and suggests the
vanity of the defiance.
4. His inquiries arouse the jealousy of Eliab, who imputes to him
5. Nevertheless, David persists in his attention to the matter.
The timidity of the entire army seems to have been accepted by Saul as
quite reasonable in presence of such a foe. David’s converse with the men
revealed a remarkable unanimity of sentiment among them. Estimated by
the ordinary maxims of war during times when brute force in individual
conflict decided the day, there was, indeed, small chance for a dwarf
against a giant. The embarrassment was great, natural, and irremovable.
But from the moment of David’s arrival this condition of things appeared
to him unreasonable. Coming fresh from the fold, unfamiliar with the
ordinary rules of armed warfare, and interpreting facts by principles
acquired elsewhere than in the camp and among pusillanimous men, he
marveled at the dismay of
that the giant was not to be dreaded. Events from a religious point of view
assume a different aspect. Notice:
FORMIDABLE DIFFICULTIES. David was at this time, in comparison
with others, eminently religious. The facts of life impress us according to.
sentiments and views already entertained. When, therefore, this devout,
God-fearing youth looked on the conflict, he saw it with eyes full of
religious light. He felt that the entire army was wrong in feeling and
opinion. The principle holds good in other applications. The eminently
religious get an impression of the world peculiar to their refined spiritual
condition. The most conspicuous instance of this is in the case of the holy
Saviour. Coming from the pure, loving sphere of heaven, more sweet and
restful than David’s rural pastures, how different would the earth, with its
conflicts, cares, and woes, appear to Him as compared with their
impression on men! Holy men see the world with new eyes when they
descend from some mount of transfiguration. No wonder if some highly
purified and trustful souls, looking on the fear and inactivity of professed
followers of Christ, are disgusted and ashamed at the lack of hope and
confidence. If we have the “mind of Christ,” fresh, pure, deep in conviction
of God’s all-wise and mighty will, toned with pity, and elevated by undying
hope, we shall often get impressions of our surroundings which may make
us singular, but which, nevertheless, will be just.
INDICATE AND JUSTIFY HIS IMPRESSIONS. The clear, truthful eyes
of the shepherd youth saw the world through a Divine medium, and, with
all the sincerity of goodness and force of deep conviction, he was not
afraid to let it be known that he differed from others. “Who is this
Philistine?” He defy the “armies of the living God!” The fire burned; he
could not but speak. To him it was a most abhorrent thought that any one
could dare to assert his strength against God. It is obvious that David
reduced the whole situation to a question of first principles. He
remembered who the Philistine was in the sight of God, and what the
and in God as the perfecter of that mission. Illustrations of the same
course are elsewhere found. True religious enlightenment must express
itself in some form. The holy cannot look on life and be silent. Our
Saviour’s words and deeds were largely the expression of the effect of
man’s condition upon His nature. It is especially important to remember this
reference to first principles in their application to:
Ø The sorrows and woes of mankind through sin. We cannot solve the
mystery of evil, but can fall back on the primary truth that God is good and
wise, and therefore His government in the end will be justified.
Ø The prevalent habits of the world. We must not fail to trace them to
radical alienation from God, and apply the only radical cure, renewal of
nature by the Spirit of God.
Ø The obstacles in the way of Christ’s triumph. They are real as facts, but
we must justify our faith in their removal by indicating their essentially
transitory character in contrast with the “everlasting strength” OF
charged with vanity and idle curiosity (v. 28). The accusation was the
more painful in coming from a brother. Jealousy creates a jaundiced
medium through which the holiest and most beautiful things appear
hideous. A greater than David was also reviled, and His most holy and
blessed words and deeds associated with the most wicked of origins
(Mark 3:22; John 10:20). Pliny and Tacitus, judicious men of the
world, could not appreciate the opinions and motives of the early
Christians. Even now strong faith in God, and belief that all obstacles to
the progress of Christianity will give way because essentially human, is
regarded as fanaticism. Even among some professed believers in Christ
those are held to be too sanguine who feel sure that the most formidable of
modem giants is as nothing before the mighty power which somehow will
sweep it away. Be it so; TIME WILL SHOW!
DAVID UNDERTAKES THE COMBAT WITH GOLIATH,
PREPARES FOR THE ENCOUNTER
32 “And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him;
thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. 33 And Saul said to David,
Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art
but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” On being brought before the
king, David says, Let no man’s heart fail because of him, i.e. “on account of this
Philistine.” Literally it is “upon him,” and some therefore translate “within him.”
The Septuagint for man reads “my lord” — “Let not my lord’s heart fail within
him.” Probably “within him” is the best rendering of the phrase. Thou art
but a youth. I.e. “a lad” (see on ch.1:24; 2:18). It is the word applied to David’s
brethren in ch.16:11, and his friend must have been very enthusiastic when, in
ibid. v.18, he described him as a “hero of valor and a man of war.”
34 “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and
there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of
his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his
beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion
and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them,
seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.” David does not appeal to
any feat of arms. He may have served with credit in repelling some Philistine foray,
but these combats with wild beasts, fought without the presence of spectators, and
with no regent necessity (as most shepherds would have been too glad to compound
with such enemies by letting them take a lamb without molestation), still more
clearly proved David’s fearless nature. Lions and bears were both common
in ancient times in
with wood; and bears are numerous in the mountainous districts now.
Lions seem to have been less feared than bears (Amos 5:19); but Canon
Tristram thinks there were two species of the lion in
short-maned, which was not very formidable, the other long maned, which
was more fierce and dangerous (‘Nat. Hist. of Bible,’ p. 117). The Hebrew
literally is, “There came the lion and even the bear,” the articles implying
that they were the well known foes of the shepherd. The written text has
zeh, “this,” for seh, “a lamb,” probably a mere variety of spelling. There
can be little doubt that David refers to two different occasions, especially
as bears and lions never hunt in company. By his beard. Neither the bear
nor the lion has a beard, and the word really means “the chin,” “the place
where the beard grows.” The Chaldee translates the lower jaw, and the
Septuagint the throat. It is plain from this description that David slew the
beast with his staff. He arose against me. This shows that the combat thus
particularly described was with the bear, which does thus rise on its hind
legs to grapple with its foe, while the lion crouches and then springs. Pliny
also says that the weakest part of a bear is its head, and that it can be killed
by a smart blow there. The manner in which David killed the lion is not
described. Defied. See on v. 10.
37 “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. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD
be with thee.” Saul said unto David, Go. The king’s consent was necessary
before David could act as the champion of the Israelites. It was a
courageous act in Saul to give his permission, considering the conditions of
the combat (see v. 9), but the two arguments here given persuaded him:
the first, David’s strong confidence in Jehovah, insuring his courage; and,
secondly, the coolness and bravery he had shown in these dangerous
encounters with savage animals.
Reasonable Confidence in God (vs. 31-37)
The facts are:
1. David’s words being reported to Saul, he sends for him.
2. David volunteers to go forth and fight the Philistine.
3. In justification of his confidence, he refers to God’s deliverance of him
from the lion and bear.
4. Saul bids him go, and desires for him the Lord’s presence.
It was doubtless a relief to Saul to be informed that at least there was one in
his relief, and may have lessened his hope, when he saw the stripling. The
quiet confidence of David was natural and reasonable to himself, but
evidently required some justification before Saul. The story of the lion and
bear was adduced, with beautiful simplicity of spirit, to indicate to Saul
that the confidence cherished was amply warranted by past experience. To
David’s mind the logic was unanswerable. It is by tracing the mental
process by which David rested in his firm conviction that we shall see the
true ground of our confidence in God, when called by His providence to
enter upon undertakings of a serious nature.
need. This general truth was the basis of David’s reasoning. It was
involved in his very conception of Jehovah, and found beautiful utterance
in his language of later years. The power of the Eternal was not a mere
philosophic idea requisite to complete the notion of God, but a living
energy permeating all things. The ascription of natural changes and events
immediately to God (Psalm 18.) is only the expression of a faith which sees
the Divine energy in and through all things. The people at Elah, on seeing
Goliath, thought of his strength. The reverse effect produced in the mind of
David by Goliath’s boast was the thought of the eternal power. The
influence of general truths on our life is great — greater than some
suppose. They lie deep down in the mind, and yet are ever at command to
regulate thought and feeling, and to suggest lines of conduct. Hence those
in whom they are most fresh and clear are persons of wider range of view,
sounder judgment, and deeper convictions. It is important to have the
mind well fortified with those general truths that relate to God; and, in
view of the difficulties and dangers of life, it is well to keep clear the truth
that in Jehovah is “everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:4)
power of God in delivering him from the lion and bear while in the
discharge of his life’s calling. The Almighty hand had befriended him at a
time when he put forth his own energies to subdue his dangerous enemies.
Without having recourse to miracle in these cases, it is enough to notice
that David recognizes Divine aid in the putting forth of effort, and the
primary truth had been translated into the experience of life: and so become
strikingly verified. A fact is an unanswerable argument. The logic
strengthens. Most of us can fall back on deliverances from lions and
adders (Psalm 91:13). The mental record of the past furnishes a
premiss on which to build an argument of hope for the future
(II Timothy 4:17-18).
without welding with his primary truth and personal experience the fact
that THE ALMIGHTY WAS ALWAYS THE SAME and that, therefore,
continuity in aid might be looked for. The unchangeableness of God was an
assured fact, not from philosophic speculation on the necessary nature of the
Supreme, but because made clear to the mind by the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21).
“From everlasting to everlasting thou art God,” keeping covenant forever
(Psalm 89:34). Therefore the argument from past experience of His
power was, so far, available for conflict with a gigantic foe. The force of
this revealed fact concerning the Divine Being is great. It gives our mind a
resting place amidst the incessant flux of things. It opens up to view a rock
on which we can stand calm and secure in face of all changes of earth. The
frailty of our life seems a blessing in association with SO PRECIOUS A
REALITY! As the uniformity in the laws of nature furnish a basis of wise
calculation and confidence in action, SO THE UNCHANGING POWER
OF GOD in relation to human need IS A GROUND OF HOPE AND
CONFIDENCE in pursuit of legitimate objects.
emergency more trying than when lion and bear were confronted, for the
interests were wide. He was too sensible a youth to imagine that the eternal
power would be manifested because men desired it, whatever the occasion.
But if aid was given formerly in real need, and now a need more pressing
was felt, the argument of faith was conclusive. Moreover, the earlier
occasions were private and personal; this was public, affecting the interests
lived? The ruddy youth perhaps saw a connection between the overthrow
of Goliath and the great kingdom of which he sang in Psalm 72. We have
here a safe criterion of the reasonableness of confidence in God’s aid.
When an emergency arises which deeply affects the honor and safety of
Christ’s Church, and the diffusion of the blessings of His reign, we are
warranted to cherish fullest confidence that God will help us in our
endeavor, by such means as we possess, to meet the peril. Let Churches
and individuals act by this rule, and they will never be disappointed. It is
involved in the promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
David’s confidence were more influential from the fact that he did not
force himself into the position, but was there by providential leading, in
which he was quite passive. A man may at the last moment shrink from a
dangerous work if conscious that he, by contrivance, sought it out; but
when we are literally urged by circumstances into difficulties and dangers,
and have a good cause in hand, then we may take the providence as an
encouragement to go through.
with rulers, and, hence, they dared to be confident.
his heart was honest in intent. He sought not to fight the giant for love of
fighting, for securing renown, for any private end, but for love to his
life is no substitute for faith in Christ for acceptance with God; but it is a
condition on which God grants His aid to us in our exertions. If we face
gigantic evils, in themselves too great for our wisdom and strength, from
an intense desire to conquer them for Christ, cherishing no vain personal
ambition, then the highest confidence is justified. A power equal to our
need, unchanged by time, realized in past experience, required for an
emergency in which the honor of Christ is at stake, sought by one
providentially led to face the difficulty, and desired not for vain reasons,
but purely for the glory of God — such a process of thought places
confidence in God’s help on a most reasonable basis.
Our wisdom is to go forth, not under the influence of the opinions of
unspiritual men, but under the full force of our own religious convictions.
We must not expect to know in what way the power of God will work
with us; the fact that it will is enough.
Faith’s Argument from Experience (vs. 32-37)
“He will deliver me out of the hand of the Philistine” (v. 37). Many
things tend to hinder the exercise and work of faith. Some of them arise
from the heart itself. Others arise from the speech and conduct of other
people. Such was the scornful reproach cast upon David by his eldest
brother, and such the cold distrust with which he was at first regarded by
Saul. But as he had doubtless overcome his own tendency to unbelief by
recalling what God had done, so now by the same means he overcame the
unbelief of the king, and excited his confidence and hope. “Let no man’s
heart fail because of him” (v. 32). “Thou art not able to go against this
Philistine” (v. 33). But “there was that in the language of this youth which
recalled the strength of
like the voice from another world” (Edersheim). “And Saul said unto David,
Go, and Jehovah be with thee” (v. 37); thus displaying one of the best features
of character he possessed after his rejection. We have here:
Ø Consisting of accomplished facts. “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep,
and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of
his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his
beard, and smote him, and slew him.” (vs. 34-35).
Ø Occurring in personal history, and therefore the more certain and deeply
impressed on the mind. How full is every individual life of instructive
providential occurrences, if we will but observe them.
Ø Wrought by a Divine hand. “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.” (v. 37). Where unbelief perceives nothing but
chance and good fortune a devout spirit sees “Him who is invisible” (Hebrews
11:27); and the extraordinary success which the former attributes to man the
latter ascribes to God.
Ø Treasured up in a grateful memory. “Therefore will I remember thee,”
etc. (Psalm 42:6; 77:10-11). Experience is the collection of many
particulars registered in the memory.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Ø Rests upon the unchangeableness of God, and the uniform method of
His dealings. “The Strength of
Hence every instance of His help is an instruction and a promise,
inasmuch as it shows the manner in which He affords His aid, and gives
assurance of it under like conditions. “Because thou hast been my help,
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (Psalm 63:7; 27:9).
“This was a favorite argument with David. He was fond of inferring
future interpositions from past. And the argument is good, if used
cautiously and with just discrimination. It is always good if justly applied.
The difficulty is in such application. The unchangeable God will always do
the same things in the same circumstances. If we can be certain that cases
are alike we may expect a repetition of His conduct” (A.J. Morris).
Ø Recognizes similarity between the circumstances in which Divine help
has been received and those in which it is expected, viz,
o in the path of duty;
o in conflict with an imposing, powerful, and cruel adversary;
o in a state of perilous need;
o in the exercise of simple trust;
o in the use of appropriate means;
o and in seeking the honor of God.
When there is so close a resemblance the argument is readily applied, and
its conclusion irresistible.
Ø Regards the help formerly received as a pledge of personal favor, and
an encouragement to expect not only continued, but still greater, benefits
from Him whose power and love are MEASURELESS! “I was delivered
out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil
work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be
glory for ever and ever.” (II Timothy 4:17-18; II Corinthians 1:10).
“Man’s plea to man is that he never more
Will beg, and that he never begged before:
Man’s plea to God is that he did obtain
A former suit, and therefore sues again.
How good a God we serve, that, when we sue,
Makes His old gifts the examples of his new”
Ø Is confirmed in practice as often as it is faithfully tested, and increases in
force, depth, and breadth with every fresh experience of Divine help. “Oh,
were we but acquainted with this kind of reasoning with God, how
undaunted we should be in all troubles! We should be as secure in time to
come as for the time past; for all is one with God. We do exceedingly
wrong our own souls and weaken our faith by not minding God’s favors.
How strong in faith might old men be that have had many experiences of
God’s love if they would take this course! Every former mercy should
strengthen our faith for a new, as conquerors whom every former victory
encourageth to a new conquest” (Sibbes, ‘Works,’ 1:320).
38 “And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of
brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.
39 And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go;
for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go
with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.
40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth
stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he
had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew
near to the Philistine.” Saul armed David with his armor. Rather, “Saul clad
David in his war dress.” The word does not mean arms, either offensive or
defensive; for in ch. 4:12, where it is rendered “clothes,” we read
of its being rent. It occurs again in ch. 18:4, and is there rendered
“garments.” Strictly it was the soldier’s coat, worn under his armor, and
girt close to the body by the sword belt. It does not follow that David was
as tall as Saul because he thus put on his military coat; for it would be
adjusted to the body by the belt, and its length was not a matter of much
consequence. When, then, it is said that David girded his sword upon his
armor, it means upon this coat, though the corselet of mail would also be
worn over it. He assayed to go. I.e. he made an attempt at going, took a
short walk thus arrayed, making trial all the while of his equipments; and he
found them so cumbrous that he felt that he would have no chance against
the Philistine except as a light-armed soldier. The agility of his movements
would then make him a match for one so heavily overweighted as Goliath.
Wearing, therefore, only his shepherd’s dress, armed only with a sling,
David descended into the ravine which separated the two armies, chose
there five pebbles, and, clambering up the other side, advanced towards the
Philistine. For brook the Hebrew has “torrent bed.” Condor speaks of a
torrent flowing through the ravine (see on v. 2).
Naturalness (vs. 38-40)
The facts are:
1. Saul clothes David with his armor.
2. David, distrusting its value, puts it aside.
3. He goes forth to the conflict armed only with a sling and a stone.
There is a curious blending of cowardice, prudence, and folly in Saul’s
conduct. Not daring to fight the foe, he hesitates not to accept a youth; and
while providing ordinary armor for his defense, he fails to see that an
armed youth would really be at a disadvantage with an armed giant. Apart
from higher considerations, David’s good sense shows him that free
nimbleness would be of more value than limbs stiffened under a coat of
mail. The gentle negation, “I have not proved them,” covered a positive
faith in other armor often proved. He would be David in the conflict, and
no one else. The issue was staked on his perfect naturalness. He knew “in
whom he believed” (II Timothy 1:12), and was true to his own individuality.
The teaching is wide and important in relation to:
is a naturalness in the means and process by which alone that and all the
ends of education will be secured. While psychologically the sum of
faculties is the same in all, the relative power of them may vary.
Constitutional tendencies and tastes also greatly differ. The inherent
capacity of certain faculties seems likewise to be affected by inheritance.
Discrimination is therefore requisite in education, otherwise we may place
a Saul’s armor on a David, and encumber his mental movements. No
doubt a weak faculty is benefited by being stimulated to work, and a
deficient taste may be improved by exercise; but the apportionment of
work to faculties and tastes should be regulated, not by some general
average of minds, but by what will make the most of the idiosyncrasies of
the individual. That educational training and equipment is natural which
leaves the mind most free and effective. What is gained on one side by
painful drudgery may be lost on another by embitterment and crippled
talents. Especially in religious education is this important. Let us not
clothe the mental nature of children with the forms suited to men. Probably
much of the distaste for religious instruction springs from the perfect
unsuitability of the form to the receptivity of the mind.
naturalness of it to the abilities, tastes, and aspirations of the employed.
The Goliath of poverty and disappointment too frequently overpowers
really good and able men, because their occupation, though good and
useful in itself, is unnatural to them. In the pressure of life it is hard, no
doubt, to find the proper place for each one; but more forethought on the
part of parents and guardians would obviate some of the evils. The over
crowding and eager race of men, trampling one another down in poverty,
raises the thought whether these
troubles are not the voice of
calling on men to spread abroad and cultivate the rich distant lands waiting
for occupants. Naturalness of occupation and of manner is also desirable
in works of charity and religion. Let not men be armed with powers and
prerogatives out of accord with their mental and moral stature. Let not the
youth of the Church, in their enthusiasm for Christ, be fettered by
impositions that will nullify their zeal Nor let the immature assume
functions for which ripe experience alone can qualify. The wise Church is
that which takes cognizance of all its members, and finds out and
encourages some sphere of Christian activity natural to the attainments and
social position of each individual. Ministries may differ in style and be most
natural — e.g. Paul and John.
conflict. He discerned the great religious issues at stake, and the fitness of
the means by which the battle was to be fought. For sweeping off from the
earth a great foe of God’s
had not proved the armor of Saul, the unspiritual king; but he had proved
other means of warfare suited to his individuality as a youth full of faith in
God and enthusiasm for the golden age of the world. The man after God’s
own heart will not fight in the attire of the man who had lost faith in God.
He must have freedom for such powers as are natural to himself, and that
would give scope for his trust in God.
Ø Is there not here a foreshadowing of a greater than David? Christ, in
seeking to rid the earth of the giant foe of God’s righteous government,
sin, knows that men have been accustomed to contend with the evil by
various appliances — philosophy, art, social and political organization,
repressive ordinances, commercial intercourse, and other agencies created
for the preservation of society. There were men who hoped that he would
adopt some of the ordinary appliances (John 6:15). But Christ worked
out His mission on the line of his own individuality. Recognizing
organizations, and social laws, and ordinary knowledge as useful, He
nevertheless struck at the root, not at the ramifications, of sin. “Except a
be born again, he cannot see the
good and his fruit good.” And this He effects by the power of His holy life,
of His self-sacrifice, and pure truth, brought to bear on the deepest springs
of thought and volition by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 11:29; John 3:7; 10:16-18; 13:15; 17:17; II Corinthians 5:21;
Philippians 2:5; I Peter 2:21-25; 3:18).
Ø We may also see here a parallel to our personal conflicts with evil.
There are “carnal” weapons sometimes used for subjugation of evil, but the
spiritual man knows of an “armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-17), often
proved AND NEVER KNOWN TO FAIL! Both in our own hearts and in
the world sin will be most surely overcome if we distrust mere
accommodations to its nature and conformities to its methods, and use with
all our free energy THE SPIRITUAL POWER WHICH COMES OF GOD!
Christian naturalness lies in using Christian means:
o hope, and
COMBAT OF DAVID AND GOLIATH
41 “And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man
that bare the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about,
and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a
fair countenance. 43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou
comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy
flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.”
When David had crossed the ravine, Goliath and his armor bearer advanced
towards him; and when he saw that the Israelite champion was but a lad (see
v. 33), with red hair, which added to his youthful appearance, and handsome,
but with nothing more than a staff in his hand, he regarded this light equipment
as an insult, and asks, Am I a dog, — an animal held in great aversion in the East,
that thou comest to me with staves? The plural is used as a contemptuous
generalization, but the Septuagint is offended at it, and with amusing matter of
fact exactness translates, “With a staff and stones.” And the Philistine cursed
David by his gods. The Hebrew is singular, “by his god,” i.e. the deity
whom he had selected to be his especial patron.
45 “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a
sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in
the name of the
LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of
whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into
mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and
I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the
fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may
know that there
is a God in
that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is
the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” And with a shield.
Really, “a javelin” (see on v. 6). David of course menitions only his arms
of offence. As Goliath had reviled David by his god, so David now
expresses his trust in the God of Israel, even Jehovah of hosts, whom the
Philistine was dishonoring. This day. I.e. immediately (see ch.14:33).
Carcases is singular in the Hebrew, but is rightly translated plural, as it
is used collectively. That all the earth may know, etc. As we saw on v. 37,
it was David’s strong faith in Jehovah, and his conviction that God was
fighting for him in proof of His covenant relation
nerved him to the battle, but made Saul see in him one
fit to be
representative in so hazardous a duel. (I recommend Ezekiel – Study of
God’s Use of the Word Know – this web site – CY – 2016)
Many of the battles which are waged on earth are not the Lord’s. They are
unnecessary and unrighteous. The end they seek and the means they adopt
to attain it ARE EVIL! Other conflicts are only the Lord’s in an inferior sense.
Although not unnecessary, nor in themselves unrighteous, they are waged
with secular aims and carnal weapons. But there is one which is the Lord’s
in the highest sense. It is a holy war; a conflict of the kingdom of light with
the kingdom of darkness. Observe that:
1. The obligation is imposed by the Lord. “Fight the good fight of faith.”
(I Timothy 6:12)
2. The adversaries are the adversaries of the Lord. “Principalities and
powers,” (Ephesians 6:12)
3. The soldiers are the people of the Lord. Those in whose hearts the
principles of the
and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)
4. The Commander is the Anointed of the Lord. “The Captain of our
salvation.” (Hebrews 2:10) “The Leader and Commander of the people.”
5. The weapons are provided by the Lord. “Put on the whole armor of
God” (Ephesians 6:11); “the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)
6. The success is due to the Lord. He gives the strength which is needed:
“teacheth our hands to war, and our fingers to fight” (Psalm 144:1), and
“He will give you into our hands.” (v. 47)
7. The end is the glory of the Lord. When it is over God will be “all in all.”
(I Corinthians 15:28) “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Exodus 32:26)
Three Victories in One Day (vs. 29, 37-39, 45-47)
Here the history assumes the charm of romance, and David stands forth a
hero above all Greek and Roman fame. By the grace of God he won three
victories in quick succession.
1. Over the spirit of anger. When David, shocked to see all
and daunted by one Philistine, showed his feeling to the men that stood by
him, his eldest brother, Eliab, sneered at him openly, and taunted him with
being fit only to keep sheep, or to look at battles which others fought.
Possibly, this ungracious brother had not forgiven David for being
preferred before him in the day when Samuel visited the house of Jesse;
probably too he was conscious that it was the duty of some such tall
soldier as himself to encounter the Philistine champion, and he was ashamed
and irritated because he was afraid to fight. So he vented his ill-humor
in a most galling and insulting reproach, hurled at his stripling
brother. His words might have provoked a sharp retort. But David was in a
mood of feeling too exalted to descend to wrangling. He was forming a
purpose, at once patriotic and pious, which he saw that Eliab was unfit to
appreciate, and therefore made a calm and mild reply: “What have I now
done? It was only a word;” q.d. “I may surely ask a question.” Thus the
hero ruled his own spirit; was master of himself before he mastered others;
had that disinclination and disdain for paltry quarrels which belongs to men
who cherish high and arduous aims; and David’s first triumph was the
triumph of meekness.
2. Over the precautions of unbelief. When the youth was led to the king,
and in his presence offered to fight with the Philistine, he was told that he
was not old or strong enough for the encounter. When a tried soldier of
lofty stature like Saul himself shrank from the combat, how could this
stripling attempt it? It was certain death. David was not shaken from his
purpose. He showed the king that his trust was IN GOD and that the
remembrance of past encounters with wild beasts when the Lord delivered
him made him confident of victory over the giant. Then Saul said, “Go, and
the Lord be with thee.” Perhaps he said it from a mere habit of using such
phrases, perhaps with a melancholy feeling that from himself the Lord had
departed. But he had so much consideration for the brave youth before him
as to put his own armor on him, and gird him with his own sword. It may
seem strange that he did not assign to him a suit of armor more suited to
his size; but there was little armor of any kind among the Israelites, and
none so good as that of the king. It was well meant, but it was a sign of
unbelief. Saul could not trust in God to defend this young champion, but
would cover him with a brazen helmet and a coat of mail. David, however,
happily for himself, put off the armor. It only encumbered his body, taking
away his native nimbleness of movement, and it tended to weaken in his
mind that total faith in God and sense of dependence on Him which was
more to him in such a field than even the armour of a king. Thrice was he
armed who had his quarrel just, and the living God for his refuge and
3. Over the proud blasphemer. Goliath was a terrible opponent in a time
when gunpowder as yet was not, and prowess in the field depended on
size, strength, and armor. No one dared to accept his challenge; and as he
stalked along the valley he scoffed at the men of
was a prodigy of courage on the part of a youth like David — however
strong and active, not above the customary height of men — to assail that
moving tower of brass. But it was no blind fanaticism, such as despises
caution and skill, and disowns the use of fit means, as though implying a
want of faith. David’s faith made him use his utmost care and dexterity,
trusting in God to give him a sure aim and a quick victory. It is quite a
mistake to dwell on the simplicity of David in going forth to the combat
with a weapon so unlikely, so inadequate, as a sling. On the contrary, he
would have shown not simplicity only, but folly, if he had trusted to sword
and spear. If he were to strike the giant at all, it must be from a distance,
and not with weapons held in the hand; for Goliath’s long arm and long
spear would never have let him near enough to inflict a blow. So David
shrewdly took the sling, with which he was familiar, and picked from the
bed of the brook a few pebbles which would pass through the air like
bullets. The sling was in fact the rifle of the period, and men who practiced
the art could make their bull’s eyes with this weapon as well as our modern
rifle shooters, though not at so great distances. The giant, seeing the
shepherd’s staff in David’s hand, and probably not perceiving the thong of
the sling, demanded whether he was regarded as a dog, that might be
beaten with a stick. Then he loudly defied the rash boy who ventured to
meet him in combat, and cursed him by his own heathen god. Back across
the valley went the noble answer of Jehovah’s servant. “I come to thee in
the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of
hast defied.” Then came the terrible moment, and both armies “held their
breath for a time.” David made the attack. Nimbly he ran forward to be
within shot. Goliath had opened the visor of his helmet to look at the foe
whom he despised, and to shout defiance. Thus was his forehead exposed.
David’s quick eye saw the advantage; he slipped a pebble into the sling,
and let it fly. A sharp whistle in the air, and the stone sunk into the giant’s
haughty brow. “He fell on his face to the earth.” How the
shouted as they heard the clang of his heavy armour on the ground, and
saw their young champion cut off the boaster’s head with his own sword!
Then it was the turn of the Philistines to fear and to flee; and the Israelites
pursued them, and “spoiled their tents.” So one man gained three battles in
a day, and thousands reaped the advantage of his victories. Is not this what
we have under THE GOSPEL? One who was born in
His own brethren did not believe, is our Deliverer and the Captain of our
salvation. Jesus overcame provocation by His meekness and lowliness of
heart. He overcame all temptation to unbelief and self-will by His perfect
trust in God His Father. He also overcame that strong adversary who had
long defied and daunted the people of God, and had lifted up the name of
false gods on the earth, blaspheming Him who is true. This enemy seemed
to stride to and fro in the earth, and boast himself against the Lord with
impunity. But the Son of David has bruised the enemy’s head, laid low his
pride, and now thousands and tens of thousands ENTER INTO HIS
VICTORY AND SHOUT HIS PRAISE! To David belonged the honors of the
day. Jonathan loved him. All
WHO HAS WON FOR US A GREATER VICTORY and a richer spoil. We thank
victorious generals, we decorate valiant soldiers, we raise statues and trophies to
national champions. But, in truth, the country which they have saved is
their real monument, the nation which they rescue from oppression or
danger is the true and lasting pillar of their fame. So is it in regard to
THE CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION! Words and offerings for His cause
are insufficient for His praise. The Church of the redeemed is His monument.
ALL whom He has saved out of the enemy’s hand ARE TO THE PRAISE
OF HIS GLORY! “Hosanna to the Son of David; ......hosanna in the highest!”
48 “And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew
nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet
the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a
stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the
stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.”
When the Philistine arose. Apparently he was seated, as
was the rule with armies in ancient times when not engaged in conflict
(compare v. 52). When, then, he saw David emerge from the ravine, he
rose, and, carrying his vast load of armor, moved slowly towards his
enemy, trying to frighten him by his curses. David, meanwhile, in his light
equipment, ran towards the army, Hebrew, “the rank,” i.e. the Philistine
line, in front of which Goliath had been sitting. As the giant’s helmet had
no visor, that protection not having as yet been invented, and his shield was
still carried by his armor bearer, his face was exposed to David’s missiles.
And in those days, before firearms were invented, men by constant practice
“could sling stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss” (Judges 20:16).
And even if David were not quite as skillful as those Benjamites, yet, as the
giant could move only very slowly, the chances were that he would hit him
with one or more of his five pebbles. As it was, he struck him at his first
attempt upon the forehead with such force that Goliath was stunned, and
fell down upon his face to the ground.
50 “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a
stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no
sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the
Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and
slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw
their champion was dead, they fled.” So David prevailed over the Philistine
with a sling and with a stone. It is evident that the narrator regarded David’s
victory as extraordinary; and no doubt it required not only great courage, but
also perfect skill, as only the lower portion of the forehead would be exposed,
and on no other part of the giant’s body would a blow have been of any
avail. The narrator also calls attention to the fact that David relied upon his
sling alone, for there was no sword in the hand of David. Slings
probably were regarded as useful only to harass an enemy, while swords,
which they had only lately been able to procure (ch. 13:22), were
regarded as the real weapons of offense. David, therefore, completes his
victory by killing Goliath with his own sword as he lay stunned upon the
ground. As Ahimelech considered it fit for David’s own use (ch. 21:9),
it was probably not so monstrous in size as Goliath’s other weapons.
Champion is not the word so rendered in vs. 4, 23, but that used in
ch.16:18 for “a hero of valor.”
The Governing Principle of Life (vs. 41-51)
The facts are”
1. The Philistine, on observing the youth and simple weapons of David,
disdains and curses him, and boasts of soon giving his flesh to bird and beast.
2. David, in reply, declares that he comes in the name of God, and
expresses his assurance that, in the speedy death of his foe, all men would
learn that the battle is the Lord’s.
3. Goliath falls by means of the sling and stone.
4. Seizing his sword, David cuts off his head, whereon the Philistines flee.
We may regard Goliath and David as representatives of two very distinct
orders of character — the one serving as a foil to the other. The low
human purpose, the boastful trust in human strength, and the vanity of
gaining personal renown, on the one side, set off in bold relief the
execution of a Divine purpose, the quiet trust in Divine strength, and the
supreme desire to see God glorified, on the other side. “I come to thee in
the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of
hast defied” — here is the great principle that governed David’s conduct.
“In the name of the Lord” did the stripling raise his voice, select his stones,
and use his sling. Nor was this a mere accident in his life. A crisis may
bring out into clear and bold expression the principle which governs a good
man’s life, but it does not create it. “In the name of the Lord” was his
motto when feeding the sheep, slaying the lion and bear, and composing
the Psalms. Consider:
A GOOD MAN’S LIFE. There are various mental acts entering into and
lying at the spring of conduct — some more original than others. Life
cannot be fully understood without an analysis of them and a recognition of
their mutual relation. At one time:
Ø a passion may be regarded as the governing principle, e.g.
“The love of Christ constraineth us” (II Corinthians 5:14)
Ø at another, a supreme regard for right — e.g. “Do justly”
Ø at another, obedience to a superior will — e.g. “Not my will, but
thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)
But these and others of kindred nature are in Scripture summarized in the
beautiful formula, “In the name of the Lord.” David’s conduct brings this
principle into triple form.
Ø The purpose of life is the purpose of God. That which God, by the
revelations of His mercy and the ordinations of providence, is working out:
o the cutting off of evil and
o the establishment of righteousness
is the adopted and cherished purpose of life. In every calling, pursuit,
enterprise, alliance, pleasure, secular or spiritual conflict, the true man goes
forth “in the name of the Lord” to destroy the foe of God and man. He is
conscious of a definite unity of purpose, and wills that it be identical with
THE ONE PURPOSE OF GOD!
Ø The power trusted to is THE POWER OF GOD! The Lord in whose name
David went forth “saveth not with sword and spear.” The stripling did not
expect Goliath to fall down dead while he lay at rest in his tent, but be
went forth using those means natural to him as a youth, and this too
because of the unseen hand which taught “his fingers to fight.” (Psalm
144:1) God’s strength is not a vast reserve locked up for use on some far
distant day, when some new system of worlds has to be created, any more
than that it has been all poured forth into laws and forces now acting. THE
ETERNAL SPIRIT IS ETERNALLY STRONG and as a Spirit is in such
contact with us that, by placing ourselves in a certain attitude of loving trust,
we receive from Him according to our need.
Ø The glory sought is that of the Lord. The motive of David was not to
become notorious among men, not to promote some private advantage, but
the earth might know that there is a God in
stripling warrior was governed by the same reference to God as was
recognized by the Apostle Paul when he said, “Do all to the glory of God”
(I Corinthians 10:31). This:
o abnegation of self,
o this joy in the honor of the holy name,
o this ambition to see men bowing in reverence to the Lord of all,
enters into the private and public, the secular and spiritual, works of
THE RENEWED MAN! See the beautiful and impressive language of
saints of different ages:
o David - II Samuel 22:33, 35; Psalm 20:5; 63:4;
o Hezekiah - II Chronicles 32:7-8;
o unknown – Psalm 115:1;
o Paul - II Corinthians 10:4;
o writer of the Book of Hebrews – ch. 11:32-34.
· THE TRUE GOVERNING PRINCIPLE OF LIFE IS NOT
UNDERSTOOD BY THOSE WHO ARE NOT UNDER ITS
INFLUENCE. Goliath, judging others by the principles that governed his
own conduct, disdained David: his abusive language shows that he had no
conception of the nature of the inspiration that made the stripling so cool
and brave. Some men live in a world not penetrated even by the vision of
others. Spheres of life come into collision, but do not intersect. The scorn
and contempt of the ungodly is a common fact (Psalm 123:4; I Corinthians
1:18; 4:13). Christ and His apostles were treated with contempt, and their
design of subduing the world was, and still is, by some referred to madness:
Ø ridicule of prayer,
Ø of missions to savage men,
Ø of expectation of Christ’s gospel being accepted by all,
still abounds. Are not the people “few,” the means contemptible — out
of harmony with the age, and opposed to the principles of physical science?
It is the old story of a boastful Goliath. It is the same revelation of profound
ignorance. Verily, if there were no more in Christian men than in their foes,
the conflict would soon be settled (II Corinthians 4:4).
GOVERNING PRINCIPLE OF LIFE IS ASSURED. David was sure that
on that very day his foe would fall, and so illustrate the supremacy of the
good man’s principle. Events confirmed the truth. The issue of the great
conflict between Christ’s Church and opposing forces of evil is thus
FORESHADOWED! We may go forth with the same assurance that at the
end of the world’s great day of battle we shall be in a position to say,
“Now thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ”
(II Corinthians 2:14; I Corinthians 15:57-58). The same result may be
looked for in respect of our own personal conflicts with sin; for though we
may be weak, and pained by the scorning of the proud, yet, using our sling
and stone in the strength of God, it will be found at last that we are “more
than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37) And this,
which applies to life as a whole, is of equal force in respect to any form
of vice or moral evil we contend with day by day (Psalm 44:6-7; Micah 7:8).
The great need for Christians is to rise to the height of their powers and privileges
as soldiers of Christ (“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be
strong.” - I Corinthians 16:13). Every triumph achieved for Christ over
sins, or individuals, or obstacles is a pledge of coming victories.
52 “And the men of
pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the
gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by
the way to Shaaraim, even unto
spoiled their tents.” To the valley. Hebrew, gai. As we have seen, there was
a gai or ravine between the two armies, but in the Hebrew there is no article,
and the Israelites must also cross this before any fighting began. The panic
which struck the Philistines when they saw their champion fall enabled the
Israelites to do so, but the pursuit only then commenced. The Septuagint
quoted from Condor on v. 2,
terebinth valley. The Syriac and Vulgate retain valley, but the former
understands it of the mouth of the
was now held by the Philistines. They spoiled their tents. More correctly,
54 “And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it
but he put his
armor in his tent.” David...brought it to
anticipation of later
history. The Jebusites at this time held
when David had taken it from them, he removed the head of Goliath thither,
and the narrator, following the usual custom of Hebrew historians, mentions
the ultimate fate of this trophy here (see on ch. 16:21). He put his armor
in his tent. I.e. he carried it to his home (see on ch. 2:35; 4:10; 13:2, etc.),
where it became his private property. The mistranslation of camp by tents in
v. 53 might lead an English reader to suppose that it meant a tent in the camp
supposes that by David’s tent was meant the tabernacle of Jehovah, but this
would surely have been stated more fully. Either, however, now, or at some
later period, David must have presented the sword as an offering to the
tabernacle, as it was laid up at Nob, whence he took it with him in his flight
(see ch. 21:9).
David’s Conflict with Goliath (vs. 38-54)
“So David prevailed” (v. 50).
1. David was specially prepared for the conflict by the whole of his
previous life, and especially by his successful attack upon the lion and the
bear, and his victory over himself.
2. He was providentially led into the conflict. “Jesse little thought of
sending his son to the army just in the critical juncture; but the wise God
orders the time and all the circumstances of actions and affairs so as to
serve His designs of securing the interest of
after His own heart” (Matthew Henry).
3. He was inwardly impelled to the conflict by the Spirit of the Lord that
had come upon him (ch.16:13), and had formerly inspired Saul
with fiery zeal against the Ammonites (ibid. ch. 11:6). If he had gone
into it in any other manner he would doubtless have failed.
4. He rendered invaluable
repelling the invasion of the Philistines, but also teaching them the spirit
they should cherish, and the kind of king they needed. “It is not too much
to assert that this event was a turning point in the history of the theocracy,
and marked David as the true king of
challenge of God and His people, and kindling in
the might of the living God bringing the contest to victory” (Edersheim).
5. He became an appropriate type of Christ by the conflict. “It is a
rehearsal of Christ’s temptation and victory a thousand years afterwards”
6. He was also an eminent pattern for Christians in the conflict; exhibiting
the spirit which they should possess in their warfare with “the world, the
flesh, and the devil.” “David’s contest with Goliath will only be
apprehended in its true light if the latter be regarded as a representative of
the world, and David the representative of the Church” (Hengstenberg).
Ø He neglected not the use of weapons altogether. To have done so would
have been rash and presumptuous; for it is God’s method to grant success
to those who employ the legitimate aids which He has provided for the
purpose. Although David did not trust in weapons of war, he did not throw
them away, but used them wisely. We must do the same in the spiritual
Ø He rejected the armour, defensive and offensive, which seemed to
others indispensable. “I cannot go in these; for I have not proved them.
And David put them off him” (v. 39). Some weapons may appear to
others, and even to ourselves, at first, to be the best, and yet not be really
such. Some weapons may be suitable to others, but not to us. We must
learn by experience. We must be simple, genuine, and true to ourselves.
And above all, we must look for Divine guidance in the matter. “The
weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” (II Corinthians 10:4).
Ø He selected the weapons which were most effective. “And he took his
staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones,” etc. (v. 40) —
selected them carefully, knowing well which were the best for his purpose;
and he was not satisfied with one or two merely, but provided a reserve.
His weapons were insignificant only in the view of the inconsiderate. They
were the most suitable that can be conceived, and gave greatest promise of
success; and his genius was shown in their selection. Intelligence was
opposed to brute force. “It was just because the sling and the stone were
not the weapons of Goliath that they were best fitted to David’s purpose.
They could be used at a distance from the enemy; they made his superior
resources of no avail; they virtually reduced him to the dimensions and
condition of an ordinary man; they did more, they rendered his
extraordinary size a disadvantage; the larger he was, the better for the
mark. David, moreover, had been accustomed in his shepherd life to the
sling; it had been the amusement of his solitary hours, and had served for
his own protection and that of his flock; so that he brought to his
encounter with Goliath an accuracy of aim and a strength and steadiness of
arm that rendered him a most formidable opponent” (A.J. Morris). The
lesson here taught is not that anything will do to fight with, but that there
must be in spiritual, as well as in secular, conflicts a proper adaptation of
means to ends.
Ø Humility. His heart was not haughty and proud (Psalm 131:1), as
Eliab said it was, but humble and lowly. He was conscious of unworthiness
before God, of utter weakness and insufficiency in himself, and ready to do
and bear whatever might be the will of the Lord concerning him. Humility
(from humus, the ground) lies in the dust, and is the root out of which true
excellence grows. It is the first, the second, and the third thing in religion
(Augustine). “Before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33). “He giveth
grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) “Be clothed with humility.”
(I Peter 5:5)
Ø Faith. “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts” (v. 45; see
ch. 1:3). He looked beyond man to God, and relied upon His help.
“He did not compare himself with Goliath, but he compared Goliath
who was the Leader and “God of the ranks of
believed, and therefore he fought, and prevailed. “Although unarmed in
the estimation of men, he was armed with the Godhead” (St. Ambrose).
Ø Zeal. He was little concerned about his own honor and renown, but he
was “very jealous for the Lord God of hosts” (I Kings 19:14). He
heard the gods of the heathen extolled (v. 43), and the name of Jehovah
blasphemed, and he was desirous above all things that God should be
the earth shall know that there is a God in
“All this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth,” (v. 47). When we
fight for God we may confidently expect that He will fight for us. “The
battle is the Lord’s.” (II Chronicles 20:15)
Ø Courage, which
stood in contrast to the fear with which
smitten, and was the fruit of his humility, faith, and zeal. It was shown in
his calm and dauntless attitude in going forth against his opponent, in the
presence of the two armies, in breathless suspense; in his bold and
confident answer to the contemptuous challenge of the foe; and in his
eagerness and energy in the actual conflict. “David hasted, and ran,” etc.
(vs. 48-49, 51). “So David prevailed.”
Philistine overthrown, speedily, signally, and completely, but also —
Ø The enemy fled in terror (v. 51), and their power was broken (v. 52).
Ø He himself was honored — by God in giving him the victory and
opening before him a wider sphere of activity, by the king (vs. 55-58;
ch. 18:2), and by all the people. Even the Philistines long
afterwards held his name in dread (ch. 21:11). “This first heroic
deed of David
was of the greatest importance to him and all
was his first step on the way to the throne to which Jehovah had resolved
to raise him” (Keil). “Raised by the nation, he raised and glorified it in
return; and, standing at the crowning point of the history of the nation, he
concentrates in himself all its brilliance, and becomes the one man of
greatest renown in the whole course of its existence” (Ewald).
SAUL’S INQUIRY CONCERNING DAVID’S PARENTAGE
55 “And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said
unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this
youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.
56 And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.
57 And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner
took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine
in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young
man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the
Bethlehemite.” Abner, whose son is this youth? Hebrew, “lad,” na’ar.
We have seen that the narrative in ch. 16:21-23 carries the
history of David’s relations with Saul down to a much later period, and
that in v. 15 of this chapter David is represented as not dwelling
continuously at Saul’s court, but as having returned to
resumed his pastoral occupations there, whence he would be summoned
back in case of the recurrence of Saul’s malady. It is plain from what is
stated here that David had not thus far spent time enough at Gibeah to be
personally well known either to Saul or his officers (see note on v. 15).
Stripling. Not na’ar, but ‘alem, the masculine of the word ‘almah, used in
Isaiah 7:14. It means a young man fully grown, and arrived at the age
to marry, and so is more definite than na’ar, which Saul uses in v. 58. As
David returned, etc. Abner, as captain of the host, would naturally watch
the combat, and as soon as it was possible would bring the young warrior
into the king’s presence. But what is recorded here could have taken place
only after the pursuit of the Philistines was over, and really these five
verses should be united with ch. 18, as their object is to introduce the
account of the love of Jonathan for David. Starting then with the inquiry
made by the king of Abner, asking for fuller information as to the young
man’s parentage, the historian then tells how after the chase he was
brought before Saul, and then, in ch. 18:1, that the result of their
conversation was the warm love that henceforward knit together these
two kindred souls.
Unknown and Yet Well Known (vs. 52-58)
The facts are —
1. Stimulated by the exploit of David, the people complete their victory
over the Philistines.
2. David leaves his weapons in his tent and carries Goliath’s head to
3. During the conflict Saul inquires who David was, but obtains no
information, till, on presentation, David declares himself to be the son of
The summary of events here given brings out incidentally a fair illustration of
INFLUENCE OF INDIVIDUAL HEROISM. The force of David’s
character passed beyond the death of Goliath: it infused fear into the
Philistines and aroused the spirit of his countrymen. In this stimulating
power we have one of the prime qualities of true leadership. The value of
our actions lies much in this moral force. One of the difficulties of conflict
in a good cause is to arouse enthusiasm, nourish courage, and incline men
to exchange their lethargy for action. In the cause of Christ we have need
to pray that He would raise up men fitted, by their heroic spirit, to arouse
the slumbering energies of His people.
stripling who befriended Saul in his military difficulties was the same as
comforted him in his private sorrows. The deft fingers that once drew
sweet music from the harp now used the stone that brought Saul’s enemy
to the earth. This was the second of the many acts of kindness rendered by
the future to the present king, though Saul recognized not his former
comforter under the new guise of chivalry. It is a happy circumstance when
a man can enrich others by the exercise of diverse and unlooked for gifts,
even when not recognized. By such merciful providences does God
sometimes mitigate the misfortunes even of the undeserving.
PERSONS AND QUALITIES WORTH KNOWING. For some time
David had, next to Samuel, been
the most beautiful character in
is a just inference from his choice and anointing by Samuel, the sweet
charm of his music and song, his noble endurance of Eliab’s base
imputation (vs. 28-29), the simple story of the lion and bear, the tone of
his address to Goliath, and the entire spirit displayed through the day. If
moral and high spiritual qualities are of greatest permanent value to a
nation, then David was, next to
yet Saul and his officers knew him not. Concerned with the arm of flesh
and the framework of national life, great authorities are often unaware of
the presence of persons most important on account of their elevation of
character. This will ever be true until the time comes when moral and
spiritual considerations have their proper place in the councils of kings and
princes. But though “unknown” in earthly courts, the holy and Christly
have their record in the court of heaven, and are held in everlasting
remembrance by Him who delighteth in His saints and guards them as
the apple of his eye.
It will be an encouragement to constancy in goodness to remember that
while “unknown” we are “well known” (II Corinthians 6:9).
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.