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Bible: What Does 1 Samuel 16-17 Teach Us About David and Goliath?

Updated on November 18, 2016

Jesse, the Father of David


Yahweh's Perspective

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David's Ministry to Saul

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1 Samuel 16

Life marches on, but Samuel continues to mourn for Saul. Finally, Yahweh mildly reprimands His servant, commanding him to put away his sorrow and carry out his responsibility as priest by anointing a new king for Israel from among the sons of Jesse in Bethlehem (v. 1).

[By continuing his lamentations overlong, Samuel was actually rebelling against God, for the LORD had irrevocably rejected Saul as king. Apparently, Samuel still wanted to hold onto him].

To protect Samuel from Saul's possible retaliation, God sends the prophet to Bethlehem with a heifer to sacrifice (v. 2).

[If Saul should ask why he is going away, Samuel now has a non-evasive response.He can tell Saul the truth, for he is going to offer a sacrifice, while still being able to guard the primary purpose for his journey. For Samuel to omit telling Saul the whole story is not sin].

Having invited Jesse, his sons, and Bethlehem's frightened elders to this service, Samuel awaits further instructions regarding the anointing (vv. 3-5).

[Apparently, Samuel had a reputation as a hard-nosed prophet whom God used to rule Israel with an iron fist].

While at the feast, the prophet starts sizing up Jesse's sons.

In his eyes Eliab, the eldest, appears a choice specimen; however, Yahweh, having an infinitely wiser and a perfect perspective, refuses to accept the young man, and He tells Samuel why (vv. 6-7).

Seven sons stand before Samuel, and seven sons God passes over (vv. 8-10).

Finally, the youngest, David, arrives “fresh” from his shepherding chores, and Jesse brings him forth as one he had not even considered a long shot, though he was a fine-looking youth (vv. 11-12a).

In quick succession the LORD chooses him, Samuel anoints him, and the Spirit “comes upon” him (vv. 12b-13).

Meanwhile, Saul is having “a devil of a time” with an evil spirit (v. 14).

Acting on a suggestion from his servants, the king orders that they find a skillful harpist, whose pleasant tones would drive the demon away (vv. 15-17).

[This reference speaks well for one of the beneficial effects of melodious tunes].

One of the king's men knows about David, and gives a glowing report about him to Saul (v. 18).

Once Saul learns the name of the harpist's father, he commands Jesse to send David to him (v. 19).

Feeling honored, Jesse packs up his son with a gift and dispatches him to the king (v. 20).

Saul is so pleased with David that he asks Jesse if this young man could serve him not only as his armor-bearer, but also as his special court musician (vv. 21-22).

As the young man plays, his beautiful melodies succeed wonderfully in refreshing Saul's distressed spirit (v. 23).

David Fights the Giant


John MacArthur: Pastor/Teacher

1 Samuel 17

After taking a brief respite from writing about Israel’s primary nemesis (the Philistines), the author brings the latter back into the biblical narrative, recounting the assembly of their armies against Saul and the men of Israel.

A subsequent scene finds these two foes camped out on opposite mountainsides (vv. 1-3).

The Philistine champion, Goliath—a giant decked out in full battle gear, all heavy bronze and iron—stands in the valley before Israel and taunts Saul's armies, challenging Israel's champion to a death struggle for supremacy and freedom (vv. 4-10).

His arrogant defiance sends shivers up Israel's collective spine (v. 11).

While Jesse's three eldest sons accompany Saul to battle, David feeds his father's sheep in Bethlehem (vv. 12-15).

For forty days, Goliath waits for an opponent; however, Israel puts forth no one to meet him (v. 16).

One day Jesse sends David to the front lines with food for his brothers and for the captain of their battalion as they "fight" against the Philistines (vv. 17-19).

[Was actual fighting going on, or just a great deal of "saber rattling"?]

Leaving his sheep with a keeper, David delivers the supplies and visits with his brothers, just as Goliath steps forward and utters his familiar (by this time) challenge (vv. 20-23).

Scared stiff, Israel runs away (v. 24).

Young David, however, speaks up after learning about the reward for slaying the "uncircumcised Philistine," drawing Eliab's ire and ridicule (vv. 25-28).

The shepherd responds as the youngest brother usually does when accused of putting his nose into the business of his elders.

Obviously, the men's answers do not encourage him (vv. 29-30).

David's words find their way back to Saul who bluntly tells him that he cannot fight the giant (vv. 31-33).

Nevertheless, after the brave youngster relates how he had slain both bear and lion while shepherding his flock, and how he intended to do the same to Goliath, Saul wisely (as it turned out), though reluctantly, permits him to face the Philistine (vv. 34-37).

After an abortive attempt to wear Saul's armor, David, laying it aside, finds five smooth stones from a brook, and takes his sling and his staff with him to the fray (vv. 38-40).

Soon Goliath and his shield-bearer meet David on the field of battle.

The giant proceeds to ridicule Israel and curse his young opponent, inviting him to his death (vv. 41-44).

David Kills Goliath


Not intimidated, David hurls a godly "comebacker" at the Philistine, asserting that Yahweh will do to the giant what Goliath just said he would do to David (vv. 45-46a).

With this response, David purposed to magnify the power of the God of Israel before the whole world (vv. 46b-47).

When "push comes to shove," David does not back down; in fact, he embraces the opportunity to exalt the LORD (v. 48).

With the first stone he hurls from his sling, the young Israelite "nails" the giant in the forehead, sending the Philistine face first to the ground (v. 49).

Then David, true to his word, decapitates Goliath with the giant's own sword (vv. 50-51). The defeated enemies now turn tail and run.

After pursuing this fleeing battalion a long distance, Israel's armies presently return to the spoil; in the meantime, David brings Goliath's head to Jerusalem and confiscates his armor (vv. 52-54).

[Saul's inquiry of Abner as to David's identity must indicate that chapter seventeen occurs before the account of David's stint in the court in chapter sixteen (vv. 55-58)].

© 2013 glynch1


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I appreciate the explanation on the timeline. It helps the way you relate the incidents in sequence. The quizzes are a plus!