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David & Goliath

A Study in Scriptural Integrity:

Textual Development

This study will follow the development of an event in Scripture, how the Scripture explains itself via development.

You probably know of the story of David and Goliath. Israel was in trouble from the Philistines, and God sent a little shepherd boy named David to save them, and he killed the big bad giant. Happy ending.

That is the legend.

The question we are going to ask is, what account does the Bible actually give regarding David and Goliath?

"And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

"And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

"So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

"Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled."

I Samuel 17:48-51

We see that God did indeed deliver Israel by the hand of David. But we are studying scriptural development, and this is not the first mention of David in the book of I Samuel.

"And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

"And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

"And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. "

I Sam 16:3-3

Saul had become very rebellious against God and was going to be replaced as King of Israel.

Samuel traveled to Bethlehem and by God's word rejected all the oldest sons of Jesse.

"Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

"And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

"And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah."

I Sam 16:10-13

The first mention of David we see in verse 12 he was "ruddy" (meaning "red," that he was tanned and healthy,) beautiful, and good looking. As women might say, he was a hunk. Not a spindly little boy, but one of the guys that make girls swoon at the beach. A pretty boy, and while not extremely tall, he was no weakling.

David, a shepherd, is anointed King over Israel. This is David's introduction in scripture. And the Spirit of the Lord is upon David from that day on. This anointing in spirit plays a significant role.

Meanwhile, Saul continues deteriorating spiritually.

"But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

"And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

"Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

"And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. "

I Samuel 16:13-17

Saul's advisors, for kings always have had advisors, suggest someone ministers musically to Saul. Music, as they say, to sooth the savage beast.

Notice that as he is losing spiritual acumen, Saul is losing mental acumen as well. He is becoming increasingly unstable.

"Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

"Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

"And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul."

I Samuel 16:18-20

Here we have an accurate description of David. We already know he is extremely attractive and healthy, no spindly little fellow is he.

Not only is he a musician whose talent has been noticed even in the circles of the king's advisors, and a "prudent," a wise man, but he is also "a mighty valiant man, and a man of war" whose military ability is also known even to one of the king's advisors!

And of course, David's reputation is such that actual advisors to the King know the Lord is with him.

In Biblical usage, "men who draw swords" are soldiers who have perhaps finished boot camp, so to speak. "Mighty men" are men who have proven themselves and have a strong reputation.

"Mighty valiant men" are those who not only have been tested and enjoy a battlefield rep, they are the toughest of the tough, the bravest of the brave, like our Navy Seals or our Rangers.

David was no spindly little runt, he was no little boy even when he was first introduced to Saul. He could take a strong tough guy, chew him up and spit him out. He was no one to mess with.

He was, prior to meeting Saul, prior to meeting Goliath, a "mighty valiant man" ("valiant" means "brave") and a "man of war," already battle hardened and proven among the best.

"These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time."

II Samuel 23:8

As one might see, "mighty" was reserved for the best.

"And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armor-bearer."

I Samuel 16:21

Again, a puny man did not become armor-bearer to the king, especially based only on musical ability. The king wanted men who would fight very well before any enemy would reach him, for an armor-bearer would go with the king to the battle. This is like the Secret Service toughness that guards the American President.

"And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favor in my sight.

"And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

I Samuel 16:22-23

Sometime during this period of time David was on leave, he had returned home for a while, and a new champion arose for the Philistines. This champion brought fear into the hearts of all the men of Israel.

"Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.

"And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.

"And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.

"And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

"And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.

"And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.

"And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.

"And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.

"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, and serve us.

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

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

I Samuel 17:1-11

The army of Israel was on one side of the valley, the forces of the Philistines on the other. Either side, to attack the enemy camp, would have to charge uphill. So they only skirmished daily with one another on the plain in between.

And daily, the giant, Goliath, taunted Israel. He was a big man. He stood at almost ten feet tall from a now-extinct nation and even his weapons and armor weighed almost two hundred pounds!

"Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul."

I Samuel 17:12

Here is where David, the Green Beret pretty-boy rock-star shepherd, fits into all this.

"And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.

"And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.

"But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem."

I Samuel 17:13-15

David had been with Saul, both to play music for Saul's spirit-caused mental troubles, and as his armor bearer. But when the armies of Israel gathered to make war and Jesse sent three other sons, Jesse got David back to work his business, at least part of which was sheep.

David, as you read here in verse fifteen, returned from Saul.

"And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.

"And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp of thy brethren;

"And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge."

I Samuel 17:16-18

David was sent by his father to gain news of his brothers, news of the war, to send their father's concern to the officers, and to bring gifts.

He was simply the youngest. He was not a baby or a lad, for to send gifts to the captain over the brothers' unit was an act of diplomacy, not a task for a mere messenger or a child.

Gifts could influence a captain to take care a family member would not get the most dangerous jobs. Jesse sent David because the three older brothers lives could depend on this act.

"Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

"And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

"For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.

"And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.

"And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.

"And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

"And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel.

"And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

"And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. "

I Samuel 17:19-27

David was asking what reward was in store for the man that slew the Philistine champion.

"And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

"And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?"

I Samuel 17:28-29

In the Middle Eastern cultures, especially of Biblical times, an eldest brother ruled much like a steward over the younger siblings, and for this service, was given double an inheritance. This rule carried over into adulthood as long as the son remained in the father's household. David was very much still in this household.

David replied by saying, "What now have I done?"

He obviously had little respect from Eliab. Being an adult, being the king's armor bearer and the king's personal muse, being the anointed of God had not earned him much respect from his eldest sibling. Many younger brothers can relate to this.

"And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.

"And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him."

I Samuel 17:30-31

What words? The words he was speaking when big brother interrupted him, "Who is this Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God!"

We see here the faith of David. We also see that his words were enough to gain him audience with the king. Why? Because, as personal muse, and as armor-bearer on leave, he already had an audience!

Ever try to get an audience with the head of state of a nation? Especially while he is on the field of battle? Especially if you are a scrawny little lad wanting to do a man's job? Would not happen. Did not happen. David was a man, a "man's man," a man who had already proven himself even to the king, and God was about to send a man to do a man's job!

"And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

"And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."

I Samuel 17:32-33

Saul calls David a "youth," not a "boy." "Youth" is "nuerim," meaning "young man." Another word will also be used of David, "naar." It literally meant, "growing," but was used as "maturing." It was common usage for anyone under thirty or new to a field of endeavor, as of a student.

Here, David, with a reputation as a "mighty valiant man," is but a youth, a student of war and a young man, compared to Goliath ,who is a mature soldier. This is what Saul is referring to. It is as if he were saying,

"You cannot fight Goliath, he has forgotten more than you might ever know."

"And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

"And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

"Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

"David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."

I Samuel 17:34-38

David fought hand to hand with both a bear and a lion, and won. Uh, care to try that?

Yes, God was with him and caused him to prevail, but again, David also had the skill and talent to give God the material necessary to work with.

"And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.

"And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him."

I Samuel 17:38-39

"No offence, king, but I haven't trained with these."

David knew about training. He wanted military weapons he was used to. He was in for the fight of his life and he knew it. He knew it because he knew the art of war. He chose a sling.

A sling was not a boy's toy. It was a specialist's weapon, used by elite forces to harass the enemy and kill their outermost soldiers in a formation. A soldier had to be adept and accurate to slay the enemy with a sling. It was a professional soldier's choice.

"And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

"And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.

"And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance."

I Samuel 17:40-42

Again, while David was disdained for his apparent immaturity, this was based on his pretty-boy appearance rather than his actual skill.

Yes, the stave may have been a deliberate insult. Yes, he seemed to be coming out to Goliath as if Goliath were a dog.

It may have been deliberate provocation, to anger his opponent, a brilliant strategic ploy, or perhaps simply an inspired one, and it worked.

Also, a stave can be an effective weapon in the right hands, like the hands of a "mighty valiant man," a man such as David, especially one in whom the Spirit of the Lord has set upon. Think of any contemporary martial artist with a staff. Or think of Robin Hood. But the mightiest of mighties were usually armed with the weapon of the elite, a sword.

Shepherds used staves to guide and protect sheep, protect them from dogs. Insinuating someone is a dog remains till this day a great insult among Semitic peoples.


"And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

"And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

"Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

"This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

"And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands."

I Samuel 17:43-47

When all was said and done, David was in a bad situation. He knew, not for lack of skill, but because of his military skill, that only God, only the Lord of Israel could see him through this.

A million things could go wrong with his plans. He could stumble, tremble, err in judgment, Goliath could act unpredictably...

Any of these things might happen and he could lose his life quickly.

David trusted God to lead him in right choices and to prevent unexpected events from preventing their conclusion.

And David, the mighty valiant man of war, rushed into the danger with full knowledge and experience telling him he had to trust in his saving God.

"And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

"And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

"So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

"Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled."

I Samuel 17:48-51

David knew how to handle the sling, and he knew how to handle the Giant's mammoth sword to chop off a head, and he had the strength to do both.

Because David, young pretty David, was not a puny lad, but a mighty and valiant man of war; a man that God had called upon to do a man's job.

"And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. "

I Samuel 17:52

Thus was Israel delivered, not by an ignorant boy who knew no better, but by an expert warrior who knew, he knew beyond doubt, that only in God could he see the setting of the sun.

From looking at the textual development, reading a section in its entirety, we see how God was taking a man and developing him into a king.

Not according to the appearance, but from seeing this man as he was, a man of courage and of faith in the Living God.



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