The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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David and Goliath

I Samuel 17:1-10
"Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose heightwas six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear waslike a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighted six hundred shekels; and a shield - bearer went before him. Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, "Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us." And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together"

Though Israel had many times in the past been in a war with the Philistines, this seemed to be a different case. The reason is because instead of an ordinary fight, the Philistines brought forth Goliath, a heavy armed man with unusual physical abilities, who was threatening Israel, asking for a man to fight with him. The reaction of Israel to his proposal is given in verse 11:

I Samuel 17:11
"When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid"

To see how far was this reaction from what God promised in His Word for similar cases, let's compare it with Leviticus 26:3, 7-8 and Joshua 23:9-11. So there we read:

Leviticus 26:3, 7-8
"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight"

Also Joshua 23:9-11 tells us:
"For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God."

God's promise was that if they walked with Him, just one of them would be enough to chase a thousand, and "a hundred shall put ten thousand to flight". Nevertheless, what we see here is the exact opposite: one Philistine put all Israel to flight! Fortunately, the story does not stop here:

I Samuel 17:12, 16-23
"Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse and who had eight sons. ....... And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening. Then Jesse said to his son David, "Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare and bring back news of them." Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. SO DAVID HEARD THEM."

David had just arrived at the battlefield, to see his brothers. There, as he talked with them, he saw Goliath threatening Israel for one more time. Both he and the people of Israel heard what Goliath said. Nevertheless, they did not respond the same way. Verse 24 tells us:

I Samuel 17:24
"And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid."

As it can be seen, the people continued to react the same way as forty days earlier i.e. fearfully. Nonetheless this was not true for David. In verses 25-26 we read:

I Samuel 17:25-26
"So the men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel." Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" And the people answered him in this manner, saying, "So shall it be done for the man who kills him."

Both David and the people heard and saw the same things. However, their response to them was entirely different. Thus, while the peoplewere looking at the problem and evaluated it according to what they saw and heard, David was looking at the Word of God and evaluated the problem ACCORDING TO THIS WORD. Hence, while the people wondered "who are we in comparison to Goliath?", David's wonder was "who is Goliath in comparison to God?". It is not therefore what we see but how we evaluate what we see. Do we evaluate it as Israel, i.e. using our five senses, the seeming reality, or we evaluate it as David i.e. using the Word of God, the truth, as the standard?

The words that David spoke made so much impression to the people who reported them to Saul, who then sent for David:

I Samuel 17:31-37
"Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth". But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion and a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arouse against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, HE WILL DELIVERED ME FROM THE HAND OF THIS PHILISTINE." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you!"

As it can be seen, between David and Saul there was the same divergence of views that there was between David and the people. Thus for Saul, David was unable to fight with Goliath. The reason? The physical facts: David was only a boy, a shepherd. How then could he have any chance against such an experienced and heavy armed warrior as Goliath?

On the other hand, David not only believed that he could fight against Goliath, but he was also sure that he would win him. The reason? The power of God and the promises of His Word. How could really Goliath have any chance against the power of God?

Therefore both Saul and David had reasons to believe what they believed. The former had physical reasons while the latter had spiritual reasons. The former was looking at the physical facts (weapons, height, experience), while the latter at the spiritual facts (promises of the Word of God). The former was trembling from fear, while the latter was full of courage. Who of these two chose to believe the right source of information becomes evident from the verses that follow.

I Samuel 17:40-51
"Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" Then David said to the Philistine, "you come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands." So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a slink and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it."

Goliath, the Philistine that had made all Israel trembling for forty days, was defeated by a young boy whose only physical weapon was ..... a sling and five smooth stones. Nevertheless, David did not go to this fight based on his physical weapons. As he said to his opponent in verse 45: "YOU come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin [physical weapons]. BUT I come to you IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OF HOSTS". Yes, Goliath was heavy armed. Yes, he was very strong. But so what? Was he stronger than THE LORD OF HOSTS? Was he mightier than HIM? I do not think so. The question therefore is not whether we have the physical means to face a situation, but whether we trust THE Power, THE Weapon, that is called THE LORD OF HOSTS. The Weapon is there waiting for us. It was there for Israel all the days that they were trembling from fear. However, they, instead of trusting it, were looking for salvation through "sword and spear", and when they couldn’t find it they were terrified. As Proverbs 18:10 tells us:

Proverbs 18:10
"The name of the Lord IS A STRONG TOWER; The righteous run to it and are safe"

Our strong fortress is the Lord. Only in Him there is true security. Either therefore we go to him as David did, or we are looking somewhere else for security, as Israel did. As Jeremiah 9:23-24 says:

Jeremiah 9:23-24
"Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord"

Anastasios Kioulachoglou