Study Notes

1Samuel 17:1-58


Since King Saul has been rejected by God for his sin, He directed Samuel to anoint David, the son of Jesse, as king. Meanwhile, an evil spirit from God has been tormenting Saul, and the suggestion has been made that he bring in a harp player to relieve his anxiety. Wouldn't you know it - David is chosen to come to the palace and play the harp, and even becoming Saul's armor-bearer. Of course, Saul has no idea that David has been anointed to be the next king.

17:1-3 The Philistines Gather For Battle

The Philistines were in Israelite territory - between So-KO and Az-ay-KAW at EH-fes Dam-MEEM, inside land that belonged to the tribe of Judah (Josh. 15).

Saul's army was across the way in Ay-LAW. Each army was on a mountain, with a valley in the middle. Both were at strategic positions of strength, neither one wanting to advance, for the first one into the valley would be a prime target for the other army's archers. Even if they made it across, they would be fighting an uphill battle - literally.

17:4-7 Giants

Now, how could anyone ever be six cubits and a span tall? That's over nine and a half feet tall! Is is physically possible for a human's bones to support that kind of weight? Throughout recent history, guys that are freakishly tall end up in leg braces or wheelchairs. So how can Goliath be human and that tall? Well, I honestly don't believe that Goliath's genetics were completely human. Let me tell you why.

Back in Genesis 6, we read,

Gen. 6:1-2 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

Who are the sons of God? Everywhere the term "sons of God" is used in the Old Testament, it speaks of angels.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy...

Dan. 3:25 He answered and said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of Gods!"

In all four of these cases, the Scripture is specifically speaking of angels. So in Genesis 6, we find out that some of the angels became attracted to strange flesh - to human flesh, the daughters of men. They abandoned their proper abode - leaving heaven to marry human women.

Jude writes of them,

Jude 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

So, if angels left heaven and married human women, what was the result of these marriages? Did they have children? Genesis 6 continues,

Gen. 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore {children} to them. Those were the mighty men who {were} of old, men of renown.

The Nephilim were the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men. They were mighty - stronger than other men on the earth. They were also very, very big. Now, when the flood came and only Noah's family survived, you'd think that would be the end of the Nephilim. But notice that verse four says, "and also afterward."

You see, although Noah was blameless in his time, or more accurately "undefiled in his generations," the same was not said of his daughters-in-law. As a matter of fact, every nation that included giants can be traced back to one source: the daugher-in-law of Noah that was married to his son Ham.

Thus, thousands of years after the flood, when the spies that were sent into the Promised Land came back to report to Moses and the congregation of Israel, they said,

Num. 13:32-33 ..."The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of {great} size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

The sons of Anak, or the Anakim, are part of the Nephilim. The Anakim are described in the book of Deuteronomy a number of times as being "great and tall."

In the book of Numbers, we saw that Og king of Bashan slept in an iron bed that was 13 1/2 feet long and 6 feet wide! During the days of Joshua, the majority of the giants were killed, with only a few remaining. So now, by the generation that lived during the times of 1Samuel, the genetics had been "diluted" down to where Goliath was "only" 9 1/2 feet tall, and he was the greatest and tallest among the Philistines.


Goliath's armor weighed about 125 lbs, and his the head of his spear was about 15 lbs. This was one big, strong guy!

17:8-11 Goliath's Challenge

Goliath's challenge to the Israelites was a one-on-one battle, where the outcome would determine the victorious army. In verse ten, when he says, "I defy the ranks of Israel," the word defy means, "to reproach, taunt, or blaspheme." These were strong words from a strong warrior. Goliath did this every day for forty days.

17:12-19 David Sent To The Front Lines

Meanwhile, David was watching his father's sheep back in Bethlehem. His three oldest brothers, El-ee-AWB, Ab-ee-naw-DAWB, and Sham-MAW, had gone up to fight with Saul. His father told him to go to the Israelites' camp to bring food for his three brothers, as well as their commander, and bring back news of how they were.

17:20-22 Leaving The Baggage

When David arrived at the camp, he left his baggage with the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line. I can't help but notice the contrast between David and Saul. In chapter ten, Saul was chosen by lot to be the king. But when people looked for him, they couldn't find him.

1Sam. 10:22 Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, "Has the man come here yet?" So the LORD said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage."

Saul was hiding from the Lord's calling among the baggage. David, however,

1Sam. 17:22 ...left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper...

David knew where to drop his burden and get to business.

Are you like Saul, hiding among your baggage, letting it keep you from serving where the Lord has called you? Or are you like David, leaving your baggage where it belongs, and running up to the front lines? Where does your baggage belong? Psalm 55 says,

Ps. 55:22 Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you...

To be a David is to cast your burdens upon Him, and serve where God has called you.

17:23-30 Check Your Information

When Goliath once again issued his daily challenge, David was told that anyone who defeated him would marry the king's daughter and his family would be free from taxes and servanthood. This sounded too good to be true! David asked some other guys what would be done for the man who killed Goliath, and received the same answer. He asked another person the same thing, and heard the same.

I see this as another godly trait of David. He checked his sources. He dug into a matter to find out if what sounded too good to be true really was too good to be true. Today, I am sorry to say, Christians are among the most gullible groups on the planet.

We have not been like David, checking into a matter before acting on it or propagating it. I'll give you some examples:

In the early 1980's, an Amway distributor trying to turn people away from Proctor & Gamble products (and to Amway's) said that the moon and stars logo on products like Crest toothpaste was satanic. This accusation morphed into a rumor that P&G supported the church of satan with its profits, and has resulted in such outrageous stories as P&G executives appearing on nationwide talk shows, claiming allegiance with the church of satan.

In the early 70's, Christian author Joe Musser was writing a novel called "Beyond a Pale Horse." In it, he authored a scenario about a giant computer in Belgium, in a building occupying an entire city block. The computer was nicknamed "The Beast," and it contained information on every person in the world, along with a unique ID number for each one. Unfortunately, it became widely distributed as a fact rather than fantasy. Today, many pastors talk about "the Beast" computer from their pulpits as actually existing.

And who can forget the account of Russian scientists in Siberia that drilled nine miles down and found hell? Yes, they lowered a microphone down into the hole and heard human screams! This one was repeatedly told as truth on TBN, in spite of a complete lack of evidence. Not to mention, where did they find a nine-mile long microphone cable, or for that matter, where could they have found a microphone that could withstand the intense heat of the center of the earth?

Then there's the story of research at NASA that proved the book of Joshua's account that the sun stood still. Seems that about 30 years ago, NASA scientists were running computer simulations checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets, 100 years from now and 1,000 years from now in order to plot space craft trajectories. As they ran their computers up and down the centuries, their machines came to a grinding halt because they showed a day missing. A Christian NASA scientist showed them the book Joshua 10, they plugged in the long day, and - lo and behold - the computers ran smoothly.

It really is unbelievable to me how many people will propagate a story with no proof other than a friend who says, "I got this in my e-mail, and the person who sent it to me swears it's true!"

God gave us brains and skepticism for a reason. Let's be like David and check our facts.

17:31-35 David's Youth

David now gets to talk to the source, and tells Saul that he will go and fight Goliath. Saul tells him that he can't go because he is young. Because of this, many artists have represented David as a small boy, perhaps between 10 and 12 years old. But remember what was spoken of him in chapter 16:

1Sam. 16:18 ...a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man...

He doesn't sound like a little kid to me. The word for youth can mean a baby or a young man. It simply means youth. Depending on your age, my own 32 years can be perceived as youth!

The Heart Of A Shepherd

David explains that he is no stranger to facing strong enemies. As a shepherd, he has had to go head-to-head with lions and bears to protect his father's sheep.

This is a great illustration of a good shepherd. A good shepherd protects his Father's sheep. Jesus said,

John 10:11-13 "...The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. "He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep."

Paul instructed the elders in Ephesus to be good, protective, shepherds.

Acts 20:28-31 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert..."

Just as bears and lions attacked David's father's sheep, so wolves attack our Father's sheep. The sheep of God must be protected at all costs, even costing the life of the shepherd.

17:36-37 The God Who Delivers

Look at David's incredible faith. I see that there are three basic levels of maturity in a believers' faith. The first is immaturity, when we are afraid anytime something negative happens. "Oh, no! How is this going to work out? This is terrible! Where's God when I need Him?"

But with time and understanding of the Scriptures, we come to the second level, and intermediate faith. This allows us to roll with the punches, and have faith that when something comes upon us unawares, that God will work it out. He's allowing it for a reason, and He will deliver us in His perfect timing.

But David is at the third level of mature faith. This is a faith that is not defensive, but offensive. A faith that kicks on the gates of hell, demanding to be dealt with. A faith that doesn't just trust in trials, but actually ventures out to accomplish the will of God when the odds are insurmountable. A fatih that steps out not only into the mysterious known, but will step boldly into the terrifying known. David's words of faith are undeniable:

1Sam. 17:37 ..."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 apostle Paul's last written words include the statment,

2Tim. 4:18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him {be} the glory forever and ever. Amen.

What level is your faith at tonight?

17:38-39 Untested Armor

King Saul put his armor on David, but something wasn't right. Again, it wasn't because David was only 11 years old and it was all too big. It felt strange to him because it wasn't his - he hadn't tested it, he hadn't trained with it.

I see a real illustration for us as Christians in this. We are told to...

Eph. 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

But armor is not something to put on three minutes before a fight. It is to be trained with, gotten used to, familiar and comfortable.

The armor we are to put on is truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.

Are you walking in righteousness today? If not, it'll be too late when the devil launches an attack.

Are you girded up in the truth? If not, it'll be too late when the father of lies exposes you.

Are you trained in using the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God? If not, it'll be too late too start learning when the swordplay of spiritual warfare begins.

Don't wait until the battle to become familiar with this armor. Train in it now.

17:40 Why Five Stones?

David went to battle with the weapon he was familiar with: the sling. The sling is basically a piece of leather with a string attached to each side. One string is tied to the hand, the other is loose. A stone is placed on the leather piece, and the loose string is placed between the thumb and forefinger. Then, after the sling is spun a few times above the head, the string is released, and the stone exits at an impressive velocity.

This was not as crude a weapon as it might sound. We read in Judges 20 that there were 700 left-handed Benjamites, and...

Judg. 20:16 ...each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

David had picked up five stones. In 2Samuel 21, we see that four more giants - sons of Raw-FAW - are listed in the ranks of the Philistines: Yish-BO Beh-nobe, Saf, Gol-YATH, and an unnamed fourth, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. It is possible that David came prepared not only for Goliath, but also for the four more waiting in the wings!

But the more likely reason is that this was all he could fit in his pouch - after all, slinging stones were bigger than baseballs!

17:41-47 David Confronts Goliath

Remember that in David's left hand was his shpeherd's staff. It was probably the only weapon in David's possession that Goliath saw. His point to Goliath is well-made.

1Sam. 17:47 " ...The LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S..."

Goliath's massive spear, javelin, and shield were no match for David's God.

17:48-50 David Defeats Goliath

David's stone sank into Goliath's forehead like it was sinking into a pond. He was dead.

17:51-54 The Philistines Flee

David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword. It is my understanding that the average human head weighs eight pounds (I've not been able to verify this personally). If this is true, then proportially, Goliaths's head must have weighed in the neighborhood of 14 pounds. (I don't know why you'd want to know that, but I had some time on my hands.)

Well, the Philistines took off running, and the Israelites chased them all the was to the gates of Ek-RONE. Philistine bodies were strewn along the way Shah-ar-AH-yim for miles.

17:55-58 Saul's Inquiry

I don't think that Saul hadn't recognized David as his harp player and armor bearer. It seems to me that he was trying to find out who his father was, that he might bestow the promised reward upon David's family.

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