We have all heard how David was such a hero and took out Goliath, saving Israel. But have we looked into WHY David did it? Was he a “savior”, a selfless hero? Was he noble? Well, we are led to believe that, but that’s not the whole story! He may have been all of those, but he was also many other things. Let’s go through that story in First Samuel, Chapter 17 step-by-step and see things that you may not have been told, or realized!
23 Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. 24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.The New Kings James Version 1st Samuel 17: 23,24
Okay, so David was there, heard Goliath and along with the men of Israel, fled and was afraid! It does say “all the men of Israel”, so that includes David! Let’s not read into the text what is not there. Many want to make David a hero from the start, but at this point, he is NOT a hero at all. He is the youngest of eight brothers and has no real inheritance to expect. All he can expect is to be poor for the rest of his life, as a shepherd.
He is not yet motivated to become the man God wants him to be!
25 So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.” 26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”The New Kings James Version 1st Samuel 17: 25 , 26
What a Reward!
Wait, what? The king Saul has promised what to the winner? He gets “great riches”, gets into the royal household by marrying the king’s daughter, and in his father’s house live tax-free for life? That last part includes David and his seven older brothers! Note how David makes a very “spiritual” claim but only AFTER he learns of the reward. He doesn’t come across to me as someone who has a tight relationship with God at this point. That comes later.
And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”The New Kings James Version 1st Samuel 17: 27
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know you pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:28
Do you just love older brothers? They are so sweet and compassionate to the younger ones … especially the youngest! No, not Eliab. He assumes that David is up to no good, that he abandoned the sheep and wants to watch. Well, what Eliab doesn’t know, is that their father SENT David to the battle camp to bring some food and supplies to his brothers! It’s there in verses 17 and 18, earlier in the story.
And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:29
I can hear the way David said it, “Stop picking on me! Dad sent me!” Here is where David shows some individuality. Despite how his oldest brother just treated him, David still needs to confirm the reward. His eyes may be glistening at this point! He keeps asking people what the reward is, and appears very interested in the reward!
How many people today would condemn David for being so materialistic?
Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first ones did.The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:30
David gets an affirmation that the reward is really offered and he is not just hearing rumors at the camp. He is motivated!
The Job Interview
Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:31-32
David was talking loud, and Saul heard about it and summoned him. Even back then, they knew that only the motivated should be given a task.
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:33
Looking at the situation, we can’t blame Saul for doubting David. He was too young to go to war, had no experience, and would obviously fail to win a very serious and important fight. David was not qualified to do what he was offering to do. That is often true of the people God calls. Think about it, if we are fully qualified to do something, and no one thinks we are the underdog, it’s not a miracle that we win! The miracle is when a person who has no chance to do something, does it. That’s why God says that in our weaknesses we are made strong!
David Shows Confidence
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:34-37a
David is wound up, enthusiastic, and confident that the impossible is about to happen. Just listen to that confidence!
And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:37b
Saul is persuaded by David’s speech. David has the job! Now Saul will try to have David “dress for success”.
38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:38-39
Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him.The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:40-41
Here they are, coming at each other.
And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:42-44
The taunting begins. Goliath is not taunting just to taunt, he probably believes that this is already over except for doing it!
45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:45-47
Strong words for a kid about to face off against a seasoned, oversized warrior. The whole Philistine army must have laughed at this.
The Short Fight
48 So it was when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:48
When going into a fight, you charge your enemy because of your confidence. Those who allow their fear to overtake them, run in any other direction!
49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.The New King James Version 1st Samuel 17:49-51
That’s the part everyone remembers. David is a successful hero. He did not start out that way, but he did get there. Few heroes are heroes all the time or started out as heroes. Sometimes it is easy for us to forget the background or the context of scripture. This does end with David the hero, and it shows that anyone who is afraid, can become the person that God sees. They can rise to the occasion and be used to do what God wants them to do.
God used material things to motivate David to step forward. You may think material things are terrible motivators. That anyone motivated by material things is a lowly person. What about David? Apparently, God uses them to help us develop, and to help us love Him more!
Not quite. There is more to the story, and not all of it is joyous or happy. It’s a good read of how people can lose sight of God’s will and try to take back control over their own lives again.
Please comment and/or respond to what you heard inside of you as you read this! Let’s share!