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1Sa 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies to battle and assembled at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and they encamped between Socoh and Azekah in Ephesdammim-

David and Goliath

David must be one of the greatest types of Christ. At this time of the David and Goliath conflict he was a shepherd, despised by his brethren, trying to save Israel at a time of dire physical suffering and spiritual apostasy. These connections alone should make us scan this record for deeper Messianic allusions. The giant strongman falling to the earth because of a stone suggests Nebuchadnezzar's image of Dan.2, where the stone refers to Christ. Note how lion and bear (17:34 cp. Dan. 7:4,5) and brass and iron (17:5-7 cp. Dan. 2:32,33) are all mentioned in the record. Goliath's death by a fatal wound in the head (1 Sam. 17:49) must look back to Gen.3:15, again connecting David and the stone with the seed of the woman (Christ) and equating Goliath with the seed of the serpent. This is confirmed by the repetitious description of Goliath in battle with David four times as covered in "brass" from head to foot (17:5,6); which is related to the word translated "serpent" and is a symbol of sin. According to some etymologists, "Philistine" fundamentally means 'one who rolls in the dust', i.e. a serpent; and significantly, Goliath is several times described as "the Philistine". But he may also look ahead to a latter day personification of militant Palestinians, also to be brought down by the Son of David. Six being the number of the flesh it is significant that his "height was six cubits and a span... his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels" (17:4,7). It is even possible that the "man of sin" of 2 Thess.2 refers back to Goliath as his prototype, in which case the image of Dan. 2 and the man of sin are equated. 

Goliath, representing the seed of the serpent, a personification of sin (i.e. the Biblical devil), needed a man to fight him (17:8,9). The men of Israel cowered in fear, wishing they could only have the strength and courage necessary, but looking one on another helplessly as the invincible giant made his boast. How to overcome him and the evil intent of this man against God's people was what the men's conversation revolved around: "Have you seen this man that is come up? Surely to defy Israel is he come up". They also discussed the glorious reward being offered: "It shall be, that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and make his father's house free in Israel" - and throw in his daughter for good measure too (17:25). But "all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid" (17:24). This may well refer to those who thought about being Israel's "champion" in fighting Goliath, rather than speaking about the Israelite army as a whole. Now what more precise description could we wish for of our feelings in the struggle against sin? There seems a similarity here with men and Angels weeping because no man was found worthy to look upon or pen the book of life (Rev.5:3-5)- until our Lord prevailed on the cross.  'Golgotha' meaning 'The place of the skull' or even a form of Gol Goliath, may well be the place near Jerusalem where David buried Goliath's skull (17:54), greatly strengthening this connection. "Ephes-Dammim" meaning 'border of blood' suggests 'Aceldama', the "field of blood". Goliath coming out to make his challenges at morning and evening (1 Sam.17:16) coincided with the daily sacrifices which should have been offered at those times, with their reminder of sin and the need for dedication to God. The thoughtful Israelite must surely have seen in Goliath a personification of sin which the daily sacrifices could do nothing to overcome. 

The ultimate wager

If David represents the Lord Jesus and Goliath represents sin personified, then his supporting Philistines must be the armies of our individual sins, depending for their strength and power on this principle of the devil (cp. Goliath). The Israelites were effectively the servants of the Philistines before this battle, although with a theoretical chance of freedom; and similarly with mankind before Christ's death. However, this relationship between Israel and the Philistines was now to be formalized and made permanent: "Choose you a man for you...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" (17:8,9). This was exactly the contest between sin and our Lord; if He had failed in His mission, we would have permanently been in bondage to sin, as we were effectively even before the cross.

Something of the same wager is implied in Gen. 3:15, another prophecy of the cross- either the man kills the snake by hitting it on the head, or the snake will bite the man’s heel. He has to kill it outright, first time. Yet thanks to His victory we are now free from sin- and more than that, our sins (cp. the Philistines) should now be subservient to us; Rom. 6:17,18 may even be referring back to this passage: "You were the servants of sin, but (by baptism into Christ's death)... being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness". This sheds more light on the immense pressure on our Lord, knowing that just one slip would result in the permanent servitude of man to the sin which he hated. No wonder He appeared a man of sorrows. 

Despised and rejected

Plenty of other details now appear relevant to the Lord's crucifixion. Both his family and the men of Israel generally rejected David's claims to be able to save Israel (1 Sam. 17:28-30). Eliab's "Why did you come down here?" matches Christ's brothers telling him "depart hence" (Jn. 7:3). The crucifixion psalms emphasize how the Lord Jesus felt rejected by both Israel and His family as He fought His Goliath then (e.g. Ps. 69:8). Arguing back from the experience of his Lord, it would seem that David was really hurt and cut by the discouragement he received. 'Eliab' meaning 'God of my father' invites comparison with the Jews who despised our Lord's claims at the time of His death. The alternative rendering 'God is my Father' would connect with Israel being God's son (Ex. 4:22).

It is twice stressed that David's brothers "followed Saul" (1 Sam. 17:13,14); is it possible to argue back from this that Christ's brothers were strong Judaists? His family appear to have later disowned him during Saul’s persecution (Ps. 31:11), fleeing from him, as the Lord’s friends also did (Ps. 31:11 = Mt. 26:56). David's being sent by his father to see his brethren has echoes of Joseph's experience- which was also highly typical of the Lord Jesus. Joseph's problems with his brothers may well indicate a great barrier between the Lord Jesus and His natural brothers (who surely would have always resented the fact He was the firstborn in the eyes of their mother, whilst they were most likely convinced He was illegitimate).

David's other brothers also have names which have connections with an apostate Israel; see on :13. Similarly, Saul too represented the Jewish system, as the one who appeared superficially to Israel to be the one who could overcome all enemies, i.e. sin in the parable (1 Sam. 8:20). Doubtless one of the reasons they were attracted to Saul was because his large warrior physique made him seem a match for the giant Philistines in these man to man duels that often decided whole battles in those days. And the men of Israel should have learnt at the time of the crucifixion that the Law which appeared so powerful to save was unable to do so. By contrast we are specifically told that David was not of unduly great height (so 1 Sam. 16:7 implies), but was chosen because of the spiritual state of his heart.

We have seen how Goliath was a 'man of sin'; the New Testament concept of Satan can describe both the Jewish system and also sin, because "the strength of sin is the (Jewish) law". The great height of both Saul and Goliath would inevitably have been noticed; as if to imply that Saul (representing the Law) was as superficially as powerful as Goliath was. There seems to be a verbal connection at least between the Jews' mocking question of Christ "Where is Your father?" (Jn. 8:19) and Saul's "whose son is this youth" (17:55)- or was Saul's question also a subtle accusation of illegitimacy? Ps. 106:13 also seems to describe Israel's rebellions in language relevant to Saul, as if he represented them: "They sang His praise (cp. Saul prophesying). They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel" - cp. Saul in 1 Sam. 13:8. Note how Saul lost the animals (asses) he was given to look after; while David preserved his father's sheep, maybe looking forward to the Jewish system's inability to save its people compared to Christ's keeping of us. 

Of sheep and shepherds

We can now attempt a more chronological analysis of the confrontation between David and Goliath: "And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and went, as Jesse commanded him" (17:20). There being no human reason for David to leave his shepherding (17:28), there may be the implication that Jesse knew more about David's mission than appears on the surface. Thus David could say to Eliab concerning his coming to the battle "Is there not a cause" (17:29)- i.e. 'I'm not just here to bring provisions- but for something far more important'. It would be fitting if Jesse represented God, in which case the commandment to go and see the brethren would correspond to Joseph being told by Jacob (cp. God) to go and see his brethren (Gen. 37:13). This resulted in his figurative death and resurrection in the pit, comparable with the Son being sent by the Father to inspect the Jewish vineyard, with the subsequent murder of Him by the husbandmen (Lk. 20:14).

"As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise..." (Jn. 14:31) is in the context of Christ's going to fight sin on the cross; and it connects very nicely with David receiving the father's command and arising to go. David leaving the sheep and going to fight Goliath recalls the parable of Christ as the good shepherd leaving the flock and going to save the lost sheep (Lk. 15:4-6). The shepherd goes alone at night up into the hills (cp. Isaac going to be sacrificed in the hills), and carries the lamb on his shoulder- as Christ carried the cross of our sins on his shoulder to redeem the lost sheep of mankind (Is. 53:6). This lost sheep parable is also picked up in 1 Peter 2:25: "For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls" (i.e. Christ the shepherd). But this in turn is quoting Is. 53:5,6: "All we like sheep have gone astray... but he was wounded (on the cross) for our transgressions", which is thus the parallel to the saving of the lost sheep. This interpretation of the lost sheep parable- i.e. that the shepherd going to save the sheep represents Christ going to die on the cross- was first prompted by David leaving the sheep with the keeper to go and fight Goliath, representing Christ's saving us from sin on the cross. The leaving of the sheep with the keeper perhaps looks forward to Christ's entrusting the disciples to the Father's care in those agonizing days while death parted him from them, as David's encounter with Goliath did. David's subsequent leaving of them altogether to go and live in the King's court clearly looks forward to our Lord's ascension to Heaven after his victory over the real Goliath. 

Note how in the fight with Goliath, David progressively shed all human distractions; he left the sheep with a keeper, then on arrival at the battlefield he "left his things in the hand of the keeper of supplies" (17:22), and finally left Saul's armour behind, representing the Law as a means of overcoming sin. And there must also have been progressive stages in our Lord's coming towards that state of total faith necessary for His final victory.  David "ran into the army" after leaving behind "his things", and also ran towards the Philistine. The eagerness of our Lord to fight sin, despite knowing the supreme difficulty and seriousness of failure, sets us a matchless example of the enthusiasm we should have in our striving against sin. 

Revving up the faith

"He came to the trench as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle" (17:20). What a terrifying sight and sound that must have been; and similarly the strength of sin and man's inability to overcome must have struck fear into our Lord's heart as he came closer to the cross. David as a newcomer and onlooker would especially have noticed the obvious weakness of Israel. His seeing the weak knees of all the warriors of Israel must have made him feel like his Lord did on contemplating the fact that He personally would have to overcome sin: "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation... for he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation... the garments of vengeance" (Is. 59:16,17). Connect this with David's shunning of such physical armour for its spiritual counterpart. Is there a conscious allusion to David and Goliath here?.

David asked about the promised reward for killing Goliath as if it was a genuine motivation for him to rev up his faith and go ahead. "The man who kills him, the King will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel" (17:25). Our victorious Lord received these rewards in the form of the spiritual riches of greater understanding of the Father, being given us, God's spiritual daughter, in marriage, and us being made free from the legal requirements of the Law. This again suggests that Saul in his heavy duty taxation system represented the demands of the Mosaic law, from which the victory of the cross made us free. Amazingly, it was the beauty which our Lord saw in us which inspired him to take a deep breath of faith and step forward. 

Angelic help

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (17:26). At least three times David stresses that he will overcome Goliath with the help of the Angelic armies: "This... Philistine shall be as (the lion and bear I killed with Angelic help), seeing he (also, like them) has defied the armies of the living God ('God of the living ones'?- i.e. the Angel cherubim, 17:36). Thus David says to Goliath "I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts (invariably an Angelic title of God), the God of the (Angelic) armies of Israel" (17:45). The Messianic parable is so complete that this triple emphasis on David's Angelic help must have relevance to Christ's overcoming of sin on the cross. It seems highly likely that it is through the Angels that Christ (and ourselves in our crosses) received power to overcome sin (cp. Goliath), over and above any human strength which we can muster. One can therefore better understand the spiritual panic of our Lord when He felt this Angelic presence and help withdrawn on the cross (Mt. 27:46). 

Total faith

"And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (17:32). This must be another John 14 allusion- this time to "Let not your heart be troubled" (Jn. 14:1), spoken by Jesus as he was about to go forth to the cross, as David was about to fight Goliath. His subsequent references to his earlier delivering of sheep out of the mouth of the lion and bear indicate that Israel were in the same situation as those lambs had been; again, as if the good shepherd David/ Jesus had left the sheep safely (17:20) and gone to save the lost- and almost killed- sheep of Israel, both natural and spiritual. And on another level our Lord's previous triumphs of faith, not least in the wilderness temptations, would have given him courage for the ultimate spiritual test of the cross. 
Such was his totality of faith that David could calmly call out " I will smite you, and take your head from you" (17:46). David's emphasis on cutting off Goliath's head (cp. :54) and the stone hitting the forehead perhaps indicates that the significance of Christ's victory over the devil was that men now have the possibility of sharing His victory over the mind of the flesh. This is where the real David and Goliath battle is worked out so many times each day. David continued: "That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel", which seems to be referred to in Jn.14:31: "That the world may know" that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself through Christ's loving obedience to the Father (cp. Jn. 17:23). 

Brief battle

David crossed the brook and then cast the stone at Goliath (17:49). This connects with our Lord crossing the brook Kidron, and maybe echoes him being a stone's cast distant from the disciples  (Lk.22:41). There is a continued emphasis on David's zeal to fight Goliath- as the Lord had to fight sin: "David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and" disarmed him (17:51). There is a possibility that this is consciously referred to in Col. 2:15, where we read that Christ on the cross "Disarmed (NIV) principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them"- as if Goliath represented the Law and the sin engendered by it which our Lord conquered on the cross. 

Triumph over every sin

"And the men of Israel and Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines" (17:52). That shout of glee and triumph should be ours on considering Christ's victory- and because the devil has been destroyed by his death, we should enthusiastically pursue our sins right back to their source, confident we will have the victory- as the Philistines were chased back to their home towns, such as Sharaim, meaning 'two gates'- as if hinting at the promise that Abraham's seed, both Christ and us, would inherit the gate of our enemies. Note that the enemies that the seed of Abraham would conquer are our sins (Gen. 22:18 cp. Lk. 1:73-75; Acts 3:25-27; Mic. 7:19). David seemed to have anticipated that his victory would be pressed home by the Israelites attacking the individual Philistines: "The Lord... will give you into our hands" (17:47). And no doubt our Lord hoped that He eventually would see that the travail of His soul had produced the same effect in us. So let us too arise, shout, and pursue those sins which appear so triumphant. 

The "reproach" was taken away from Israel by David's victory (1 Sam. 17:26), as Christ carried away the reproach of our sins on the cross (Ps. 69:9; Rom. 15:3). Therefore we can stand unreproachable before God at judgment, with no sin at all against us- due to Christ's victory (Col. 1:22). 

Additional homework for the enthusiast would be a study of Psalms 8 and 144 (see notes there), both of which appear to be about the David and Goliath struggle, and are therefore a description of our Lord's feelings after his resurrection. Ps.144:3 is amazing: " What is... the son of man (Jesus) that You take account of him?", showing our Lord's humility is such that even now He is amazed that God bothered to help Him.

Political aspects

The different metals which feature in the description of Goliath all find their place in the beasts of Daniel 7, which are destroyed by the coming of Christ. This implies that the nations of the world are confederate under one charismatic, seemingly invincible leader; the latter day Goliath. Hit by David's stone, Goliath keeled over "upon his face to the earth" (1 Sam. 17:49), just as Dagon his god had done earlier. Thus Goliath was treated like his gods, as the lives of people of this world consist in the idols of materialism they possess. Perhaps this "man of sin" will likewise be a Philistine / Palestinian? We have mentioned the evident similarity between Daniel's image and the Goliath man of sin. The place of the conflict was a little South of Jerusalem, halfway between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean. This sounds suspiciously like the king of the north planting his tents (cp. the Philistine's) "between the seas (Dead and Mediterranean) in the glorious holy mountain" (Dan. 11:45). The Philistines making their constant painful incursions into an apostate Israel may well have links with the Palestinian activities today. Goliath was from Gath (1 Sam. 17:4), meaning "winepress", with its Armageddon and judgement hints. Similarly the conflict lasted for 40 days (1 Sam. 17:16)- another link with the coming Divine judgements. David's mocking "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?" matches "Who are you, O great mountain?" which was to be destroyed "not by might.. but by My spirit" (Zech. 4:6,7), as Goliath was killed by David without a sword in his hand, i.e. not by human might. Note that the Philistines were pitched on a mountain, comparing with the description of Babylon as "O great mountain". Thus the king of the North, the man of sin, Babylon, Daniel's image of the last days are all alluding to Goliath, implying that Christ will destroy all of them during one conflict. It is worth questioning whether all these various systems in opposition to Christ will be separate at the time of His return; present developments suggest there may be one huge opposing system (the beast) which incorporates all these historical precedents. But now the possibilities are opened up to the reader to work through 1 Sam. 17 again from this political/ latter day prophecy perspective. 

Matchless Jonathan

It must be significant that straight after the fight between David and Goliath, representing Christ's conquest of sin on the cross, "the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... then Jonathan and David made a covenant" (1 Sam. 18:1,3). After the cross, a new covenant was made between Jesus and us, making Jonathan representative of us. The extraordinary bond between David and Jonathan then becomes a type of our relationship with Jesus after His victory on the cross. To confirm the covenant, "Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle", pointing forward to our total divesting of human strength and giving it to our Lord when we appreciate the greatness of His victory without those things (cp. 1 Sam. 17:39).  

Jonathan lived in an environment which was bitterly opposed to David; yet he stuck up for him, at the risk of embarrassment and opposition, and certain damage to his own prospects (1 Sam. 20:31); as we should in this wicked world. As Saul cast a javelin at David, so he did at Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:33); as we should fellowship the sufferings of David's greater son. Saul's hate of David resulted in Jonathan being "grieved for David, because his father had done him shame" (1 Sam. 20:34). Is this not our response to our world in its' ceaseless blasphemy of the Lord Jesus Christ? 

Only occasionally could Jonathan and David meet, brief moments of intense fellowship away from the rest of the world, strengthening each other's hand in the Lord (1 Sam. 23:16), reconfirming their covenant together (1 Sam. 18:3; 20:8,16; 23:18). No wonder their goodbyes were so hard: " they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded" (1 Sam. 20:41). Not surprisingly, they looked forward to the promised day of David's Kingdom: "You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto you" (1 Sam. 23:17). Our communion meetings with the Lord during our wilderness journey must surely mirror those meetings.  
The depth of the David/Jonathan relationship introduces to the pages of Scripture the idea of agape love- a love higher than normal human experience. "The beauty of Israel is (singular- about Jonathan, :25) slain upon your high places... I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been unto me: your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women" (2 Sam. 1:19,26). Such love should typify our relationship with Jesus. But does it? 

Our Inspiration

The David and Goliath conflict was not only inspirational to Jonathan, but to the men of Israel generally. It seems from 1 Chron. 11:13,14 that soon after the fight with Goliath, there was another skirmish with the Philistines at Pas-Dammim [RVmg. ‘Ephes-Dammim’- the same place where David fought Goliath]. Again, the men of Israel fled, but those who held fast were given a “great deliverance” [“salvation”, RVmg.], just as David is described as achieving. Those men who stayed and fought were doubtless inspired by David; just as we should be, time and again, by the matchless victory of our Lord on Golgotha.  

1Sa 17:2 Saul and the men of Israel assembled and encamped in the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines-
The idea seems to be that the Israelites were proactive in setting the battle in array against the Philistines, but once faced with Goliath, they lost their nerve. As explained on :1 this reflects our confidence in overcoming sin in our strength being dented once we realize the enormity of the struggle and strength of the opposition.

1Sa 17:3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, and there was a valley between them-
The valley of Elah was described by one visitor as "strewn with rounded and waterworn pebbles". Consistently, the Biblical record is credible.

1Sa 17:4 A champion went out of the camp of the Philistines named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span-
Joshua / Jesus had destroyed most of the Anakim (Josh. 11:21,22), but the Israelites failed to capitalize on his victory. With the result that the few Anakim left in Gath had spawned Goliath. It's all a parable of what happens unless we totally root sin out of our lives and capitalize on the Lord's work. Depending how a cubit is defined, Goliath’s height was between nine feet nine inches and eleven feet four inches.   

1Sa 17:5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head and he wore a bronze coat of mail which weighed five thousand shekels-
About 157 pounds. It is copper which is really being referred to here as bronze was unknown then. I have often suggested that these historical records were rewritten under inspiration in Babylon for the encouragement of the exiles, and maybe the reference to bronze was inserted then. "Coat of mail" is literally 'scale armour', strengthening the connection between Goliath and the seed of the serpent, to be slain by a blow to the head. Goliath's scales also made him the embodiment of their fish god Dagon.

1Sa 17:6 He had bronze shin armour on his legs and a javelin of bronze between his shoulders-
Javelin" could also be translated as some kind of armour, possibly for the throat. He was covered in armour, that is the impression. David's slingshot was therefore amazingly accurate, entering the one point which was not covered. He would have looked like a living metal image (see on :1).

1Sa 17:7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam and his iron spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels, and his shield bearer went before him-
About 25 pounds. All the armour made Goliath very cumbersome in movement. David had the faith to see through all this, whereas the external appearance was all that the other men saw.

1Sa 17:8 He stood and shouted to the armies of Israel, Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me-
The Targum adds: "I am Goliath the Philistine of Gath, who slew the two sons of Eli the priest, Hophni and Phinehas, and carried away captive the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Dagon my idol, and it was there in the cities of the Philistines seven months. Moreover in all the wars of the Philistines I go forth at the head of the army, and we have been victorious in war, and have cast down the slain as the dust of the earth, and hitherto the Philistines have not honoured me, to make me captain of a thousand over them. But as for you children of Israel, what valiant deed has Saul the son of Kish of Gibeah wrought for you, that ye have made him king over you? If he be a valiant man, let him come down and do battle with me; but if he be a coward, choose you". Saul as the tallest Israelite was indeed the appropriate, intended person to fight on Israel's behalf, not least because God had given him the potential power to defeat the Philistines. The idea is that Israel were to send the man they had chosen to fight Goliath. And the man they had chosen as their leader was Saul. But he failed to respond. Literally, Goliath says he is "the Philistine". He was the personification of all human strength represented by the Philistines. Saul's failure to face Goliath really sets him up for the path of jealousy which will now wreck the rest of his life. Had he had the humility to accept he was not really the one to be king, and accepted the twice repeated statements from God about this, he could have lived humbly with his God and been saved, and lived a calm and peaceful life.

There are clear similarities between the situations in 1 Sam. 11 and that in David's victory against Goliath in 1 Sam. 17. The difference is that in 1 Sam. 16 we learn that God's Spirit departed from Saul and came upon David. It has been observed: "First a challenge is issued by an alien (11:2; 17:23), followed by terror and fear in Israel (11:4; 17:24). After a search (11:3-4; 17:24), a deliverer appears for Israel (11:5-6; 17:25), and succeeds in delivering Israel from the foe (11:7-11; 17:50). The deliverer is recognized and made a leader for Israel (11:15; 17:55-8, 18:5)". Saul is therefore being shown to be no longer able to lead Israel.


1Sa 17:9 If he is able to fight and kill me, then we will be your servants, but if I overcome him and kill him, then you will be our servants, and serve us-
This wager (see on :1 for the typical significance), typical of how conflicts were resolved at the time, meant in practice that Saul was wary of allowing anyone to take it up. His allowing David to do so, without armour, without explaining his planned strategy of using a sling, but only on the basis of his faith in Yahweh... therefore shows at least some spiritual perspective in Saul. And it is also a tacit admission of his own lack of such personal faith.

"Overcome" is the word Saul will later use about David (1 Sam. 26:25), where he sees in David's prevailing over / overcoming Goliath a sign that David will ultimately prevail to become king in his place. Saul realized that Samuel had indeed chosen his successor as king, and it was David; and that kingship was guaranteed by his victory over Goliath. For Saul to seek to kill David when David had overcome even Goliath... was therefore futile. Saul realized this, but obsessively continued in it. Such is the obsessive, blind nature of jealousy.

Nations at the time saw all conflicts as between their gods and those of the enemy. Hence Goliath curses David by his gods (:43). "Serve" has the frequent connotation of serving in worship. Whoever won this duel would make the losers serve them and their gods. Hence Goliath's claim that he defies "the armies of Israel" (:10), alluding to the title "Yahweh of armies". And David's perception that this was all about the glorification of Yahweh's Name in all the land.

1Sa 17:10 The Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day! Give me a man and let us fight one another!-
Goliath's defiance of Israel is a major theme (1 Sam. 17:10,25,26,36,45). Later Philistine defiance is described with the same word (2 Sam. 21:21; 23:9). David's victory over Goliath was inspirational to other Israelites, just as the Lord's triumph on the cross should be to us. The history here would have been inspirational when the Assyrians likewise defied the living God, and again this is a theme of the record (2 Kings 19:4,16,22,23; 2 Chron. 32:17 s.w.). It was also inspiration for the exiles when they were reproached / defied (s.w. Neh. 6:13). For another allusion to David and Goliath in the Assyrian context, see on :11.

Earlier, Nahash had "defied" Israel (1 Sam. 11:2, to make Israel a defiance / reproach, s.w., by making them gouge out their right eyes). Saul had then saved Israel from that reproach and defiance, but now he cannot or will not do so. The Spirit has departed from him and is upon David, and it is he who removes the "reproach" from Israel (:26).

1Sa 17:11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine they were dismayed, and terrified-
Being "dismayed and terrified" is the term David in turn uses to his son Solomon (1 Chron. 22:13; 28:20). He was thereby urging Solomon not to worry if he was out of step with all Israel; if they were dismayed and terrified, he was still to walk in faith as David had done at the time of the Goliath crisis. It is also used to urge the people toward the spirit of David rather than that of Israel in 2 Chron. 20:15,17. The same phrase is also used in urging the people of Judah in Hezekiah's time to consider the Assyrians to be as a Goliath which they like David could vanquish (2 Chron. 32:7). See on :10. The exiles likewise were urged not to be dismayed and terrified at the reproach of men (Is. 51:7; Jer. 30:10), very clearly making the history with Goliath relevant to their times. Saul is clearly not acting as king of Israel. For he had been desired by the people so that “our king will go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam. 8:20). But Saul flees from Goliath, whereas David runs toward him. Later Saul asks David to “fight Yahweh’s battles” (1 Sam. 18:17). This was the job description of Israel's king, and so Saul is effectively showing himself not fit for purpose as king, and suggesting David is better as king. It was only pride that made him want to cling on to the throne. He should've accepted he was not the man to be king, and lived humbly with his God and let David be the king.

1Sa 17:12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse. He had eight sons and was considered an old man in the days of Saul-
Heb. "that Ephrathite", meaning 'the one already mentioned'- in the account of David's anointing.

1Sa 17:13 The three eldest sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. Their names were Eliab the firstborn, next to him Abinadab and the third Shammah-
I suggested on :1 that the sons of Jesse, David's brothers, were against him and were identified with Saul. In the type being worked out here and as explained on :1, they represented Israel after the flesh in their initial rejection of the kingship and anointing of the Lord Jesus. Abinadab means "The Father is willing"; cp. "All day long have I stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (Rom. 10:21). Shammah means 'desolation, astonishment, ruin'. God would "make your land desolate (shammah)" (Jer. 4:7), and Israel were to be an astonishment to the world after their rejection.

1Sa 17:14 David was the youngest; and the three eldest followed Saul-
It is stressed that David's brothers "followed Saul" and were "gone after Saul" (see on :13). And yet Saul had been dismissed from his kingly role, and in the presence of Jesse's sons, David had been anointed as his replacement. This could suggest that the brothers jealously refused to accept this and were strongly supportive of Saul.

1Sa 17:15 Now David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem-
AV "went and returned from Saul", as if this was a permanent leaving of Saul by David. In :56, Saul is ignorant of him. Saul's mental illness may well have involved short term memory loss, and he may have totally forgotten about the young David who came to play for him and was then dismissed; or perhaps David himself wanted to leave the court. Rather like Daniel slipping away from high profile court life when promoted to it, because of his conscience toward God.

1Sa 17:16 The Philistine drew near morning and evening and took his stand for forty days-
"Forty" seems a round number; Saul, David and Solomon are all recorded as reigning 40 years, but there are some chronological difficulties if the figure is taken literally. Ancient battles rarely took so long. It seemed that the Philistines really wanted to resolve things by a duel, but the Israelites were scared. The idea may be that he offered the duel for 40 days, and if Israel refused, then the confident Philistines would attack the psychologically worn down Israelites. Perhaps it was on the final day of the challenge that David intervened. This would also explain why Saul was so desperate that despite the serious implications of the wager, he agreed to allow David to do it.

1Sa 17:17 Jesse said to David his son, Now take an ephah of parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers-
Perhaps the information about the 40 days wager, and the time running out, is inserted in :16 to show the hand of providence in Jesse sending David at the end of the period. If David was famed as a man of war already, we wonder why he was not with the army. Perhaps his return from Saul was because he didn't want to be in such an unspiritual environment; and his brothers considered him too young for army service (:28).

We note that both Saul and David were sent by their fathers with the words "Take now" (1 Sam. 9:3 "Take now one of the servants with you and go to look for the donkeys"). Likewise in :22 David leaves his things or [Heb.] "bags". The same word is used of Saul hiding amongst the bags (1 Sam. 10:22 s.w.). We continually see parallels between the two men. They both sinned seriously, but the difference was David's heart for God and willingness to go His way. Perhaps shown by how he left the bags and ran to battle, whereas Saul tried to hide amongst the bags.

1Sa 17:18 and take these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand-
Supporting evidence for the comment I often make that the word "thousand" is not always to be taken literally, and can refer to a group / regiment / family. This avoids the problem of otherwise unrealistically large numbers being spoken of at places in the record.

See how your brothers are doing and bring back news-
The Hebrew means "their pledge"; they were to return a collateral on a loan. This is rather curious, until we note that David's son Solomon in the Proverbs is quite obsessed with forbidding it in very strong terms (Prov. 6:1-3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13- all quite some emphasis). Perhaps Solomon recalled some bad experience in his family because of this. David's brothers, Solomon's uncles, were to return a collateral. Perhaps this ruined the family and Solomon's wisdom has some human element in it, reflecting his own bad experiences in his family life. But there is nothing wrong with giving or taking collateral for a loan (Ex. 22:25-27); what is condemned in God's law is the abuse of the debtor and the abuse of the situation. See on Prov. 6:1.

1Sa 17:19 Saul and David’s brothers and all the men of Israel were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines-
The two camps were on two mountains, divided by the valley where Goliath made his challenge twice / day. It seems both sides fought a bit in the valley and then returned to their mountain top camps.

1Sa 17:20 David rose up early in the morning-
There is a much repeated characteristic of God's servants: that they 'rose up early in the morning' and did God's work. In each of the following passages, this phrase is clearly not an idiom; rather does it have an evidently literal meaning: Abraham (Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3); Jacob (Gen. 28:18); Job (1:5); Moses (Ex. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4); Joshua (Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10); Gideon (Jud. 6:38; 7:1); Samuel (1 Sam. 15:12); David (1 Sam. 17:20; 29:11); Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 29:20). This is quite an impressive list, numerically. This can be a figure for being zealous (Ps. 127:2; Pr. 27:14; Song 7:12; Is. 5:11; Zeph. 3:7). God Himself rises up early in His zeal to save and bring back His wayward people (2 Chron. 36:15; Jer. 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3,4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14,15; 44:4). Yet the above examples all show that men literally rose up early in their service to God; this was an expression of their zeal for God, in response to His zeal for us. I'm not suggesting that zeal for God is reflected by rising early rather than staying up late; but it wouldn't be too much to suggest that if we are men of mission, we won't waste our hours in bed. Get up when you wake up.

Left the sheep with a keeper and took the gifts, and went as Jesse had commanded him; he came to the camp as the army was going forth to the battle, shouting the war cry-
See on :20. "The war cry" likely included some reference to Yahweh, and yet clearly the Israelite didn't really believe it; whereas David did.

1Sa 17:21 Israel and the Philistines put the battle in array, army against army-
David was walking with his brothers at this time (:23), so this may not have to mean that actual combat was going on. Rather would there have been an exchange of curses and facing off against each other, as was typical of ancient battles, rather than actual combat.

1Sa 17:22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies and ran to the army and came and greeted his brothers-
David could have returned home after leaving his things. But we get the impression from his "running" that he was zealous for involvement in this conflict.

1Sa 17:23 As he talked with them Goliath came up, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, out of the ranks of the Philistines. He shouted the same words, and David heard them-
"The same words" might mean 'the same words which David had heard that he was shouting, but now, David heard them for himself first hand'. David's desire was clearly to engage with him.

1Sa 17:24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were terrified-
The armies were each on a mountain, divided by a valley. They fled back to the top of the mountain. Fleeing before their enemies each day was living out the curse for disobedience to the covenant, and surely they were being taught that this was their essential problem. Here we have an example of how as explained in the previous chapter, man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. His terrifying appearance ought not to have disconcerted those who had God's outlook, and looked not on the outward appearance. David's smallness / shortness (see on 1 Sam. 16:11) contrasts with Goliath's unusual tallness. But we have learnt from the rejection of Saul and Eliab that height is not to be feared. This perhaps also prepared David not to fear Goliath's height.

1Sa 17:25 The men of Israel said, Have you seen this man who keeps coming up? He comes up to defy Israel. The king has promised to give great riches to the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel-
I have noted several times that Saul seeks to emulate previous Biblical characters. This offer of his daughter in return for a military victory recalls Caleb's offer of Josh. 15:16. But always Saul is portrayed as only imitating on a surface level. And in this case, he didn't give David his daughter on the terms here offered.

1Sa 17:26 David said to the men who stood by him, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine-
It is as if David wishes to clarify the reward. It could be that to marry Saul's daughter, whom he would have met in his time playing the harp for Saul, was something which further motivated him.

These are David's first recorded words. It has been argued that the first recorded words of Biblical characters are highly indicative of the real nature of the person. We think of Jacob and Esau's first recorded words in Gen. 25. David's first words here possibly indicate a dual motivation; he was interested in the reward, possibly captivated by the offer of Saul's daughter; and yet wanting God's glorification through the removal of reproach. Perhaps we are being introduced to David's abiding weakness for women. If he were the illegitimate son of his mother ["in sin did my mother conceive me" and we note the absence of any birth account for him, strange when compared to the information about other leaders], rejected and despised by his older half brothers, sent off to mind the sheep... a kind of male Cinderella, he would have longed for love. So his tendency to womanizing and wanting love is on one hand understandable. David's final end, being warmed by Abishag, with the frail Bathsheba nearby... is perhaps an appropriate tragic ending to this aspect of his life. If Saul were tall and handsome presumably his daughters were attractive women, and so David asks twice about this promised reward... as it made the unattainable apparently attainable for him.

And takes away the reproach from Israel?-
Saul's work was to remove the disgrace or "reproach" from Israel (s.w. 1 Sam. 11:2), as he had done with the Ammonites. When Goliath reproached Israel, it was Saul, Israel's tallest man, who was potentially empowered to fight him and remove the reproach. But he failed to do so, and when David did, Saul fell into a complex of spiritual jealousy. See on 1 Sam. 19:5 for another example.

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?-
David was inspired by Jonathan's similar attitude in 1 Sam. 14:6; he may have been the armourbearer for Jonathan at that time. This is the intention of true fellowship, to take inspiration from each other.

1Sa 17:27 The people repeated to him what they had said: This is indeed what is promised to the man who kills him-
See on :26. The freedom from taxation, which was one of the bad things Saul was prophesied as doing to the people, meant that for that man, Saul was no longer to have kingly power over him. David was to be king, and his victory freed him from Saul's kingship.

1Sa 17:28 Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?-
They only had a "few sheep"; David was not from a wealthy family, he was "a poor man" as he says himself (1 Sam. 18:23).  His later abuse of the "poor man" Uriah once he was rich (2 Sam. 12:3 s.w.) was therefore the more culpable.

I know your pride and the presumption of your heart; you have only come down to see the battle-
He may mean that David was just trying to provoke someone to go out and fight Goliath, so that he could watch the fight. For the two armies were not themselves engaged in battle, being on opposite mountains divided by the valley of Elah. David comes over as anything but proud. The false accusation of Eliab reveals more about himself than it does about David. It is a classic case of transference; in this case, transferring his pride onto David and judging him for it. For Eliab was smarting under his own sense of hurt pride in that he had been rejected from being anointed king in favour of his kid brother. "I know the wickedness of your heart" of course recalls how Yahweh had found David to be a man after His own heart. Eliab thereby places himself at variance with God's judgment, because he judges according to the outward appearance. Again we see the state of the heart, and the invisibility of it, to be such a major theme in the Saul-David story. Clearly Eliab was aware of David's anointing as king, and yet like Saul, personal bitterness at being rejected as king in favour of David had made him bitter. Both Eliab and Saul are noted as tall men. But their human advantage and resource didn't empower nor qualify them. They both became parade examples of how human might doesn't bring victory nor even qualification for the fight.

1Sa 17:29 David said, What have I done now? Can I not speak?-
This has the ring of credibility to it; it is exactly how a youngest brother would talk to his oldest brother when falsely accused. We get the impression that false accusation of David was frequent; as noted on :28, the brothers transferred guilt for their own attitudes onto David.

1Sa 17:30 He turned away from him toward someone else and said the same, and the people answered him as before-
David seems to have wanted the reward clarified; it was attractive to him. There can be few men who do not have at least some attraction to the father and family of their wife. David really loved Saul's daughter, indeed the prospect of marrying her may have been a large motivator behind his zeal in fighting Goliath and the Philistines (1 Sam. 17:26,30; 18:26). Saul was not a totally unspiritual man; there are many hints that he had a spiritual side. It's rare indeed that a totally unspiritual person can love a highly spiritual person like David. And yet this fine relationship ended in an intense love-hate affair. So many of the Psalms contain references to Saul's smear campaign against David (Ps. 27:12; 31:13; 109:23 cp. 1 Sam. 26:19). This frequency of reference in itself indicates the weight with which this tragedy rested upon David's mind.  

1Sa 17:31 When the words of David were heard, they repeated them to Saul and he sent for him-
I suggested on :16,17 that the 40 day period of the challenge to a duel was coming to an end and Saul was desperate.

1Sa 17:32 David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine. Your servant will go and fight him-
LXX has this as addressed to Saul, urging him not to have a faint heart because of this Philistine. These were the words of the Lord to His people just before going out to the cross (Jn. 14:1).

1Sa 17:33 Saul said to David, You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight him; you are only a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth-
David makes a play on these words by saying that he is "not able" (s.w.) to go against Goliath with Saul's armour. He was indeed not able to fight in human strength, only in God's. See on :42. Goliath had challenged Israel to provide a man "able to fight with me" (:9). Saul sees as Goliath sees, on the external rather than the internal and spiritual. He considers David not able. He fails to see that ability and empowerment is from the Spirit, which has now been taken from him and given to David.

1Sa 17:34 David said, Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock-
The young men in 1 Sam. 16:18 say nothing of David's victory over lion and bear which he mentions here. Instead, David was known by the other youngsters for having fought valiantly against the Philistines. His fights with the wild animals were personal things to him, he didn't share them with others, and only in extremis did he tell Saul about them in order to let him fight Goliath. There are private things which occur within our experience with God, deliverances so amazing and personal it's not appropriate to publically share them with others.

1Sa 17:35 I went out after it and struck it, and rescued it out of its mouth. When it turned on me I caught it by its beard and killed it-
Lions and bears don't have beards, so the "beard" likely refers to the chin, as the place where the beard grows. The 'rising up' ["turned on me"] of the wild animal against David was to prepare him for the 'rising up' of Goliath against him (:48 s.w.). Circumstances repeat in our lives; even incidents from youth are used to prepare us for similar circumstances, in essence, so that we have our faith tested and developed.

"Turned on me" is literally 'arose against me'. The same word is used of Goliath 'rising' to attack David (:48). There are other similarities between Goliath and the lion / bear. David 'went out' after the lion/bear (:35); as he would “go out” (s.w.) after Goliath. (:55). David “smote” the animals (:35) as he “smites” Goliath (:46,49,50). David “forcibly [seized]” the animals (:35) just as he "prevailed" (s.w. 'seized') Goliath (:50). He killed the beasts (:35) just as he killed Goliath (:50,51). As God saved him from the hand / paw of the beasts, so He would save David from the hand of Goliath (:37). David perceived this, in faith, he realized that his past experiences alone in the desert scrub were being used to prepare him for this moment; and so he can confidently say that “the uncircumcised Philistine” would “be like one of them [the lion/bear]” (:36).

"Killed it" is better as AV "Smote and slew". Two separate Hebrew words are used. David's two fold killing of Goliath reflected this. The same two words are used in :49,50- David "smote" Goliath with the stone and "slew" him by decapitation. He clearly had this as his intended battle plan. Because he perceived that how he "smote and slew" the lion in his youth was programmatic for what he was now called to do. We too can perceive at times how earlier experiences, including those in childhood and youth, were intended to set us up for later experience.

1Sa 17:36 Your servant-
Often David calls Saul his master, describing himself as Saul's servant (1 Sam. 17:32,34,36; 20:8; 24:6; 26:16,19; 29:3,4; 30:15). This was no formal "Sincerely your brother and fellow-servant". This was a real conscious putting of himself down, as the Lord Jesus felt he was a worm rather than a man (Ps. 22:6). If only we would concentrate upon our own status and show some true respect for others on account of their being in the ecclesia, having even been anointed spiritually at their baptism (2 Cor. 1:21) as Saul was.

Killed both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God-
The armies of God are the Angels, but David saw the trembling armies of Israel as their manifestation upon earth.

1Sa 17:37 David said, Yahweh who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. Saul said to David, Go; and Yahweh be with you-
To agree to take up the challenge, with the conditions attached of :9, meant that Saul must have believed David had a chance of victory. And yet David was just a youngster with no armour. He didn't explain to Saul that he would be using a sling, he gives his confidence for victory as being in God Himself, and his previous experience of this. So Saul's decision to let the duel go ahead, given the consequences attached to it, was surely based on faith and spiritual reasoning. Saul was not completely unspiritual; and that is the tragedy of the man. Although it could have been a case of not being able to tell my courage from my desparation, as the 40 days of challenge were drawing to a close.

"Delivered me" is 'snatched me'. The connection is with how David had snatched / delivered / rescued the lambs from the paw of the beasts (:35 s.w.), saving them at the last moment; and God in like manner would give David snatching away / deliverance from Goliath as he snatched Israel from him. It is salvation for salvation. Our experience of God's salvation leads us to save others. He saves us that we might save others. And our salvation by God is on account of our salvation of others. Although in this case, David reasons that his salvation of the sheep was achieved by God saving him. This deep interconnection between our saving others and God saving us means that witness and ministry to others, unto their salvation, is an inevitable part of the believing life.

1Sa 17:38 Saul dressed David in his own clothes. He put a bronze helmet on his head and put a coat of mail on him-
To be dressed in the clothes of a king effectively meant that the king was ceding power to the person now wearing his clothes. The significance of this would only afterwards have been apparent to Saul. Saul would have realized that his anger with Samuel for as it were deposing him from the kingship was inappropriate- for he had effectively resigned it to David himself. We note that Saul's armour was parallel to Goliath's, who also had a bronze helmet on his head, a sword and a coat of mail (:5,51). David would not fight the enemy on the enemy's terms but in the totally different paradigm of trust in Yahweh. We too are not to match helmet for helmet, armour for armour, human sword for human sword. All human resource is as nothing compared to simple trust in Yahweh, motivated by seeking His glory. We wonder whether Saul's dressing of David in his own clothes was so that if David won, people would think it was Saul. We recall the significance of a king wearing his own clothes to battle in the battle of Ahab and Jehoshaphat against the Syrians. A king in battle was known by wearing his own clothes. Again we see Saul's vanity and pride; for earlier he took credit for Jonathan's victory against the Philistines. All we know so far in the Bible about slingers is that the tribe of Benjamin were excellent slingers (Jud. 20:16), able to hit a target "at a hair's breadth". Saul was from Benjamin. Victory against Goliath with a sling would've been possible for him. But he thought in terms of human defence and strength and so it was for David to win in this way.

1Sa 17:39 David strapped his sword onto his tunic and he tried to move, but he was not used to it. David said to Saul, I can’t go with these; I am not used to them. So David took them off-
He didn't explain to Saul that he would be using a sling, he gives his confidence for victory as being in God Himself, and his previous experience of this. The human method he would use was secondary, David is presented as going ahead in total faith. Our human methods must likewise be sidelined. See on :37.

1Sa 17:40 He took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag. His sling was in his hand as he drew near to the Philistine-
David took five stones but used only one. Was he faithless and doubting that the first one would hit home? Do those five stones represent the five books of Moses which Ps. 119 tells us was Christ's study all the day, it being through the word that Jesus overcame the mind of sin? Or did he aim to use the other four on Goliath's four giant sons (2 Sam. 21:16-22)? That shows supreme spiritual ambition. In reality those four were killed later by David's closest followers- and they must have their counterparts amongst us.

David and Goliath are indeed compared in terms of resources, of which they each have five. Goliath has: helmet, armour, shin protectors, sword [scimitar] and spear (17:5–7). David also has five items: stick, stones, bag, pouch, sling (:40); and picked up five stones, perhaps also in reference to Goliath's five items of armour. We see God's man operating according to a totally different paradigm. He has no defence in contrast to Goliath's heavy defence; Yahweh is his defence, as David often says in the Psalms. We enquire why David took a staff in his hand. It played no role in his slinging, and presumably he dropped it as he ran and then slung his stone. I suggest he took it as intentional parody of Goliath's mighty spear. David went into battle dressed as a shepherd. Shepherds were despised, but the image of shepherding / feeding flocks is used by God as His picture of what it is to be king over His people: "He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that have their young, He brought him to be the shepherd of Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he was their shepherd according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands" (Ps. 78:70-72 and elsewhere). David was therefore acting as king- because he had been annointed king of Israel. Again we see paradigms turned upside down. The despised shepherd is the king and functions as a king.

1Sa 17:41 The Philistine advanced and came near to David with his shield-bearer in front of him-
The focus of the record is zoomed close in on the characters, so that it is easy to play Bible television with the record.

1Sa 17:42 When he looked at David he despised him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome-
Goliath and Saul had the same attitude towards David's youth (:33). As Goliath despised David (1 Sam. 17:42), so did Michal. The same word is used (2 Sam. 6:16). Goliath despised David because he was "ruddy" or redheaded. As discussed earlier, David's red hair would have been highly unusual in Semitic society. And anything unusual was not seen as cute, but rather as something strange and worthy of ridicule. Perhaps this too contributed to David's craving for love and intimacy, and contributed to his problem with women.

"When he looked..." shows again how Goliath was looking at the outside. But David's anointing showed how God "looks" at the heart and not at the external appearance.

1Sa 17:43 The Philistine said to David, Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks? The Philistine cursed David by his gods-
LXX adds "David said, Nay, but worse than a dog". This would reflect his deep humility, which we also see in his later reflections in Ps. 8 and Ps. 144 that he was most unworthy to have attained the victory. We note that in 1 Sam. 24:14 he also likens himself to a dog. He had a low self image.

"Sticks" suggests Goliath saw his supremacy in terms not only of his height, but his superior military equipment. Again and again, he [like Saul and Eliab] looks at the external and human resource. The whole story shows how experience [David was young compared to "the man" Goliath], stature and resources do not necessarily give victory, and God works outside of them according to a totally different paradigm.

1Sa 17:44 He said to David, Come here and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the animals of the field-
The same phrase is used in Ps. 79:2 of how Israel were indeed given to the birds and beasts. The implication is that there was no David to arise to save them, because they had rejected him.

1Sa 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, You come against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of Yahweh of Armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied-
David could have drawn the contrast between Philistine weaponry and his own sling and stone. But instead he makes the contrast between human strength, and the name of Yahweh. Although the armies of Israel were cowering in unbelief or at best, very weak faith... David has the grace to talk not simply about his God but the God of those weak armies of Israel. We note the parallel between the armies of Israel and the Angelic armies of Yahweh in Heaven. We note the same parallel in 1 Chron. 14:15. David believed this, even though the armies of Israel didn't.

1Sa 17:46 Today Yahweh will deliver you into my hand-
The idea behind "today" is "right now" (as in 1 Sam. 14:33 s.w.).

I will strike you down and cut off your head. I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines today to the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth-
Note how the Angelic ‘hosts’ of God are contrasted with the ‘hosts’ of the enemies of God’s people (2 Sam. 5:24; 1 Sam. 17:45,46; Is. 37:36). David and Goliath is the great example- David came to the hosts of the Philistines in the name of the God of Angelic hosts. And hence his faithful confidence that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47). This is a comfort not only in times of physical danger but in realizing that in any situation, there are far more with us than with our opponents. In every ‘battle’, we of course should be ‘on the Lord’s side’- and the battle is His, and ultimate victory assured. Perhaps these things are the reference of the enigmatic Song 6:13, which speaks of the dance or company of the two hosts- those of Angels and the corresponding hosts on earth?

That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel-
David had a vision of all the eretz promised to Abraham coming to accept Israel's God, and he often develops this thought in the Psalms. His language here seems to have inspired Elijah (1 Kings 18:36). May our language likewise be an inspiration to others rather than pulling them downwards spiritually.

1Sa 17:47 and that all those here may know that Yahweh doesn’t save with sword and spear, for the battle is Yahweh’s and He will give you into our hand-
David's language inspired others (see on :46), but he himself in these words seems to have been inspired by the song of his ancestor Hannah (1 Sam. 2:2-10), which is so similar in spirit to these words. This is how functional believers interact with each other, inspiring and encouraging to faith and good works and words. This was especial encouragement for the exiles, that God would restore them without their own military strength but by faith (Hos. 1:7; Zech. 4:6).

1Sa 17:48 When the Philistine came closer to attack David, David ran quickly towards the Philistine army-
Goliath 'rose up against' Yahweh and His people (s.w. 1 Sam. 17:48) just as a lion had 'risen up' against David in his youth (s.w. 1 Sam. 17:35). Goliath was in view in Ps. 139:21, where David speaks of how those who rise up against Yahweh are hated by him. The visual image is of David running towards the huge army and them fleeing; one man was as it were chasing thousands, because he was in covenant with God and receiving His blessing.

1Sa 17:49 He put his hand into his bag, took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground-
LXX "The stone penetrated through the helmet into his forehead". The hyper accuracy of the slingers of Benjamin is mentioned in Jud. 20:16. Again there could be the hint that this victory ought to have been won by Saul or his tribe of Benjamin. But they didn't rise up to it, whereas David did; and this heightened the sense of chronic jealousy against him afterwards. Goliath fell forward, face down. The force of being hit by a stone would have naturally made him fall backwards.  But God made him fall forward to show the victory was from Him. And Goliath in this way bowed before Yahweh. Just as his god Dagon had done in 1 Sam. 5:3. Goliath's head was cut off (:51) as was Dagon's (1 Sam. 5:4). Again we see how the battle was a vindication of Yahweh over the gods of the Philistines.

1Sa 17:50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him without a sword in his hand-
The record seems to glory in the fact that David didn't use the human strength and most powerful technology, but triumphed by faith through the weaker things of this world.

1Sa 17:51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, took hold of his sword, drew it out of its scabbard and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled-
We see here the way that whole masses have their faith focused in one person who is their figurehead. By contrast, the Israelites had no equivalent champion. God sent a young unarmed man out of nowhere to save His people.

1Sa 17:52 The men of Israel and Judah arose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gate of Ekron. The wounded of the Philistines fell down all the way to Shaaraim, Gath and Ekron-
The geography is absolutely accurate, as Gath was at the entrance to the valley of Elah. The mass of historical and geographical material in the Bible is so great that any uninspired writer would have made many slips. 

1Sa 17:53 The Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camp-
David was as one man chasing the Gentile armies because he was experiencing the blessings of obedience to the covenant; but all Israel seem to share in them. We note that after Saul was anointed, he was granted victory over Nahash, the serpent. Now after his anointing, David is granted this victory. The idea was that God was repeating His project with Saul with David. Thus the Spirit was transferred from Saul to David.

1Sa 17:54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem-
This was done at a later date, as Jerusalem wasn't then in Israelite hands. This would have given rise to the name Golgotha, skull of Goliath; see on :1. Or it could be that as Nob was near Jerusalem, it is counted as Jerusalem. For this was where Goliath's sword was taken (1 Sam. 21:9).

But he put his armour in his own tent-
A man's own tent refers to his own house (1 Sam. 2:35; 4:10; 13:2); presumably back in Bethlehem. But he later presented Goliath's sword as an offering to Yahweh, and it was laid up at the tabernacle at Nob (1 Sam. 21:9). Or this can be translated that David wrapped Goliath's armour in Goliath's tent. The Israelites spoiled the camp of the Philistines, but all David wanted was Goliath's armour to be displayed as a reminder of God's triumph over human might. His later request for Goliath's sword to defend himself therefore reflets a low ebb for David spiritually.   

1Sa 17:55 When Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the captain of the army, Abner, whose son is this youth?-
Saul's mental illness may well have involved short term memory loss, and he may have totally forgotten about the young David who came to play for him and was then dismissed; or perhaps David himself had wanted to leave the court and had slipped away.

Abner said, As your soul lives, O king, I don’t know-
He doesn't swear as Yahweh lives, as is commonly found in the Bible, but by Saul's own life. Perhaps he felt that Yahweh was no authority to Saul to make an oath by. We note that this way of swearing by the life of the person being spoken to [rather than by Yahweh] is used of men to Saul (1 Sam. 17:55), by Uriah to David when he knew David had slept with his wife (2 Sam. 11:11) and by Hannah to Eli (1 Sam. 1:26). In every case the implication is that the speaker didn't think that the person being addressed really feared Yahweh.

1Sa 17:56 The king said, Find out whose son the young man is!-
David had previously played the harp before Saul. In :15 AV we read that he "went and returned from Saul", as if this was a permanent leaving of Saul by David. Now Saul is ignorant of him. Saul's mental illness may well have involved short term memory loss, and he may have totally forgotten about the young David who came to play for him and was then dismissed; or perhaps David himself wanted to leave the court. Rather like Daniel slipping away from high profile court life when promoted to it, because of his conscience toward God.

The question 'Who is this?' as asked by Boaz of Ruth (Ruth 2:8)  is to be understood as a statement of intended action and not read on face value. Likewise Nabal’s ‘Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse?’ (1 Sam. 25:10). The same kind of question is asked by David about Bathsheba, even though he knew who she was because she lived next door to him and was the wife of his close friend (2 Sam. 11:3). Likewise when Saul enquires about who David is after his victory over Goliath, it is not because he doesn't know him. For David had been already at the court of Saul. The question 'Who is this?' means that the questioner wants to do something for the person being enquired after.

1Sa 17:57 As David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him to Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand-
This could imply that David was seeking to slip away from the battlefield and return home, but Abner "took him and brought him", possibly implying the use of an element of force. In this we see David's humility; that having done the job for God, he wished to slip away out of the spotlight, and return to his few sheep in the wilderness. We have in Psalm 8 David's thoughts at this moment, looking at the stars, the work of God's fingers, as his success with the sling stone had been the work of David's fingers, and marvelling at God's grace to him as a man.

1Sa 17:58 Saul said to him, Whose son are you, young man? David answered, I am the son of your servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite
This cannot mean that Saul didn't know David, or who his father was; for in 1 Sam. 16:19, before the Goliath incident, "Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son" to ease Saul's depressions. So the question here perhaps maybe implied something like: 'Whose son are you? Jesse's? No, from now on you're adopted into my family, you're my  son now, after all, you've been like a brother to Jonathan all down the years'. The fact that David replied that he was Jesse's  son may have been a polite refusal to accept this position. It may be that Saul had tried to adopt David earlier, when after David had been at the court for some time, Saul asked Jesse if David could " stand before me" (1 Sam. 16:22). Another way of understanding Saul's apparent lack of knowledge of David, after having had much intimate association with him at the court in the past, is to conclude that Saul pretended  not to know David. In chapter 16, David has left his shepherding and is at the court, as Saul's personal counsellor and armourbearer. In chapter 17, he is back keeping the sheep. It may be that he ran away from the court after Saul tried to adopt him. In other words, he found that despite the close spiritual relationship he enjoyed with the family, Saul was overpoweringly possessive, and he just had to leave. Accordingly, Saul disowned him, hence his very public appearance of ignorance concerning who David was (17:55,56). When David later "avoided out of (Saul's) presence" (1 Sam. 18:11), this would not have been the first time he had gone through this. His desire and need to do this was made all the more complex by his falling in love with Saul's daughter, Michal (1 Sam. 18:26,28). We can well imagine how we would have loved to be Jonathan's brother-in-law. David and Michal were a marriage made in Heaven- that went wrong.