Summary: Why did Saul think that God was not a part of the battle?


We are in the book of 1st Samuel, up to chapter 17. What has happened up to this point?

The Jewish people demanded a king, a king so that they could be “Just like everyone else”. So God gave them a King, who was like the world, and the world’s view of a great king. Saul was the very picture of a the world’s best, a compromiser who, when it comes to a pinch, takes the world’s way out instead of god’s way.

God rejects Saul as their king and chooses David. Someone who will not typlify his life by paying attention to the world; but someone who is after the heart of God.

After God chooses Saul, God troubles Saul with a spirit that can only be soothed by the playing of a harp by David, so David receives his introduction into the courts of the king, and brings him close to the thrown of Israel.

This brings us to chapter 17.

But first, in 1917, a sergeant named Savage was leading a group of men through the Argon Forrest in France during WW1. He could not understand why his commander, Captain Danforth, had promoted a young man to Corporal. This Corporal was uneducated, he did not smoke, drink or rough and tumble with the other men. When all the other men would go out carousing, this man would stay back at the barracks and read his Bible. To make matters worse, this man who Capt. Danforth had promoted to corporal had tried to get out of the Army by being a conscientious objector. How could this man be a real fighter?

When confronted by enemy fire and the loss of several men during an offensive, Sgt Savage was himself injured. The offensive was a disaster and the entire squad was threatened by several German machine gun nests. It was then that the Bible-reading corporal jumped up, charged the machine gun nests and won the day. He killed 28 German solders and captured several German solders, including a major. When the corporal and 8 remaining men brought their prisoners back to headquarters, Brigadier General Lindsey saw the prisoners and said to the corporal, “Have you captured the entire German army?” The corporal answered back, “No sir, just 132 of them.”

The corporal was Alvin York, who was later promoted and known as Sgt York. Sgt Savage had failed to see the value and dedication of York.

And today, this chapter is about how everybody but one failed to see the reality of what was really happening around them.

For in chapter 17, things are not as they seem for the solders of King Saul’s army.

Let’s read the first 3 verses.

1. Positioning of Players verses 1-3

1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at So-coh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between So-coh and Aze-kah, in Ephes-dammim.

2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines.

3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.

Here is the area that we are talking about (MAP)

This is sort of a Napoleonic arrangement, two sides, occupying each side of a valley. The Philistines must have had some sort of numerical superiority, Or neither side wished to give up the tactical advantage of fighting up hill, as would be the case if one or the other went through the valley to meet the other side. So, the fighting did not occur for some time, we learn later that this went on for 40 days! In the mean time, the Philistines decided to taunt Israel.

Massive Man Mocking 4-11

4 Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

5 And he had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.

6 He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders.

7 And the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.

8 And he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.

9 "If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us."

10 Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together."

11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Here we have a guy who was the Andre the Giant of the time. The guy was over 9 ½ feet tall, he had a spear with a 15 lb head on it and all of his armor weighed 125 lbs! He would be protected from arrows by a shield carrier, who, even if Goliath was engaged in battle, would keep a shield close to shield his back or sides.

There are two people who fail to see reality. Goliath sees himself as invincible, as being greater than anyone in that field that day.

Goliath assumed that this battle was between people and people only. Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul?

And secondly, and this is what is very sad, we have Saul, who believes the very same thing.

The very person who should have been a leader in standing up and reminding everyone what this battle really was, who’s people this really was. But ego, greed and fear got in the way.

Dad’s Delivery 12-19

12 Now David was the son of the Ephra-thite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men.

13 And the three older sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the first-born, and the second to him A-bin-a-dab, and the third Sham-mah.

14 And David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul,

15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem.

16 And the Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days, and took his stand.

17 Then Jesse said to David his son, "Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to your brothers.

18 "Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them.

19 "For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines."

Here we have two new characters in our story, Jesse and his son David.

Now Jesse is called an Ephrathite, that just means an inhabitant of Bethlehem. And David, who had been playing for Saul part time in his court is now tending sheep. But his father sends David, who is the youngest but was probably sent because he already had an in to the commanders, who knew he was a brave guy and a good harp player.

Now David was not just a kid, because Jesse gave him a man-size load, 5 gallons of grain, 10 loaves of bread, and ten cuts of cheese, plus food for David, plus water, then pack all of this about 15 miles to where the battle was.

Multiple Misunderstandings 20-30

20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry.

21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army.

22 Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers.

23 As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them

24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.

25 And the men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel."

26 Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will 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 taunt the armies of the living God?"

27 And the people answered him in accord with this word, saying, "Thus it will be done for the man who kills him."

28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle."

29 But David said, "What have I done now? Was it not just a question?"

30 Then he turned away from him to another and said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before.


David arrives at the battle sight and left the supplies with the carts and tents in the rear, then ran forward to find his brothers. The armies are on either side of the valley and they are doing their chants, “we got spirit...”.

And then Goliath comes out and the chanting stops on the Israeli side. And as David is walking the lines, he hears that the King is offering a huge reward for anyone who would go and kill Goliath, he will get money, he will get the king’s daughter, which is prestige, and he will be able to free his families from taxes, that means position.

And David is surprised by all the hubbub, wealth, prestige, power, position, all for (what in David’s mind is) taking out the garbage? He is so astonished at the attitude that after he hears the deal that is offered to who will kill Goliath, he asks “what” two more times!

Everyone else on the battlefield sees this as a really big guy who will crush anyone who comes out against him;

David sees the problem as someone who is opposing God. Someone who God is going to deal with, and he is astonished that no one is in tune with what God wants.

Then we have David’s brother, who misunderstands David’s interest in what is happening; he accuses David of abandoning his flock and coming down to see the action.

And that brings us to the “what’s in it for us” portion of today’s message.

First, being focused on the world makes us blind to the “reality” around us.

This is a very familiar passage, but we are so much in need of reminding these days.

Ephesians 6:10-12

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


There is a spiritual side to everything. I don’t mean that we divorce ourselves from reality,

“I don’t need to take my car to the shop; I’ll just pray the demon out of the leaky transmission!”

We still go to work, to school; but do we see that God is concerned about our transmission, and more importantly, God is concerned about how we deal with the problems that come into our lives. Because everything has spiritual significance, how do we act? Do we pray? Do we look into this for guidance from His Word everyday, regardless of the adversity we face?

When we see problems in the world, how do we view it? There is adversity and challenges everywhere, and knowing that the problems we face are spiritual do not necessarily make them easier to deal with, but it helps us see that it is not just random events, but Got, maturing us, forming us and helping us, if we allow it, to be conformed to the image of His Son.

It is the flesh that assumes that what we see with our eyes is all there is to the matter. It is by faith we acknowledge that God is in control.

Philippians 1:19-21

For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


Secondly, being focus on the world makes us misunderstand each other, typically for the worse.

When we talk, husbands, wives, kids, do we automatically think the worse of each other? Do we usually attach a negative connotation to what our spouses tell us, our parents tell us?

How many times have we gotten angry at each other because we completely misunderstood an intention? Why can’t we be less like David’s oldest brother, and not assume the worse about each other. Husbands, I know you know what I am talking about.

It is the flesh that assumes the worse about a brother, it is grace that listens and considers how a godly man responds.

Colossians 3:12-15

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.