Summary: The chapter before us contains one of the best-known & most loved stories in all of Scripture- the story of David and Goliath. The story is a memorable lesson on God's faithfulness even in the most seemingly impossible situations.
1 SAMUEL 17: (45 - 47)
DAVID & GOLIATH
The chapter before us contains one of the best-known and most loved stories in all of Scripture- the story of David and Goliath. The story is a memorable lesson on God's faithfulness even in the most seemingly impossible situations (CIT).
The contest has embedded itself in the culture and language of the nations of the world. It is so well known that it has become the way of describing any conflict in which there is an obvious disparity between the combatants, whether describing athletes, companies, or nations. The phrase, "It was a David-and-Goliath situation" creates a certain image, and this story is the source of that picture. [Chafin, Kenneth: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 8: 1, 2 Samuel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 128]
Let me give you a little ...
I. BATTLE BACKGROUND (17: 1-11).
The irrepressible Philistines, the warlike inhabitants of the seacoast, were always unconsciously ready to be used as the Lord's rod of correction against His stiff necked people. Once again they had organized an attack against Israel. They mounted a force of thousands of war chariots, thousands of calvary and untold infantry. Against this army Saul arrayed his force and the two armies confronted each other on the opposite sides of the mile wide Elah (Terebinth) Valley, just eight to ten miles from Bethlehem.
The invasion was spearhead by their warrior champion Goliath of Gath, who was 9 feet and 9 inches of trained fighting machine. A seven-foot basketball player would be dwarfed in his presence. The Philistine champion had to have physical strength to go along with his massive body for his armor alone weighed 126 pounds and to hurl his spear the head of which tip the scales at about 20 pounds. An impressing weight for a spear, considering a shot-put weighs only sixteen pounds.
Day after day Goliath would taunt the army of Israel calling for an opponent worthy of his steel, demanding that the winner take all and the loser loss all, not just for the fighters but for the nations as well. An army would often avoid the high costs of battle by pitting its strongest warrior against the strongest warrior of the enemy. This individual army representative combat avoided great bloodshed because the winner's side was considered winner of the battle. But here more than bragging rights were involved. Here all dreams of independence and property were at stake because the losers would become the slaves of the others (17:9).
Morning and evening for 40 days this arrogant Goliath challenged and reproached the battle ranks of Israel (17:10) and never once did a warrior accept (17:16). [Forty is the number of testing and trial in the Bible. Rain pelted Noah's ark for forty days. The children of Israel wandered for forty years. Jesus was tested in the wilderness for forty days.] Neither army wanted to attack the other because trying to rush up the steep slopes of the valley to attack the opposing army would cause great casualties. Each side thus was waiting for the other to lose their patience and attack first. So the Israelites, every man of them afraid to challenge Goliath could only set back in dismay and silence (17:11). [It's no wonder Saul was dismayed. After all, being the tallest man in Israel made him the logical choice to face Goliath. But when the Spirit of the Lord had left Israel's leader it also left the men without the courage needed to take the fight to Israel's enemy [Barber, Cyril. The Books of Samuel. 1994. Loizeaux: Neptune, NJ. p. 199].
But man's predicament is God's opportunity. God does not always, nor even generally act immediately when situations are difficult. No, He waits so that our helplessness might be more fully realized and that His delivering hand may be seen more clearly and that His merciful action may be more greatly appreciated.
II. THE COMING OF DAVID, 12-30.
The coming of David upon the scene seems to be the result of his father Jesse's concern for David's three brothers who were in Saul's army. The youthful shepherd, [back again with his family (v.15)] in ready obedience to his father, takes the humble food of the poor to the battle line with instruction to learn of his brothers' welfare. He arrives early in the morning after about a three hour walk and drops off his load. It seemed as if by chance when just after David had arrived at the entrenchment line and greeted his brothers that Goliath came up and defiantly challenge Israel's army (v.23). You can see providence's timing as God's works His plan to honor this man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), meaning he put God's honor [glory] before all other considerations. God had been training this faithful shepherd so that He might raise him to the pinnacle of fame. Yet providence in bringing its plan together does not impair the free choice of the person in its care.