And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel
He stood in the valley between the two armies, and cried with a loud voice that he might be heard; and as he was of such a monstrous stature, no doubt his voice was very strong and sonorous; and as the battalions of Israel designed by armies were posted on the mountain or hill, his voice would ascend, and be the more easily heard:
and said unto them, why are ye come out to set your battle in array?
either as wondering at their boldness, to set themselves in battle array against the Philistines; or rather suggesting that it was needless, since the dispute between them might be issued by a single combat:
am not I a Philistine, and you servants to Saul?
a common Philistine, according to Jarchi; not a captain of a hundred, or of a thousand; and yet would fight anyone of them, their general officers, or be they who they would; or rather, as Abarbinel, he was a prince among the Philistines, and king of Gath; and though he was, and it was usual with great persons to engage with their equals, yet he did not insist on that; but would engage with any man, though of an inferior rank, even with any of Saul's servants; and by calling the Israelites the servants of Saul, he might have some respect to Saul's arbitrary government over them; and since they must be servants and slaves, it was as well to be servants to the Philistines as to him:
choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me;
according to Jarchi and the Targumist, the challenge first respects Saul their king; that if he was a man of fortitude and courage, let him come and engage with him; if not, choose another, and send him down into the valley to fight with him. These same writers represent him as blustering and bragging that he killed the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, took the ark captive, and carried it into the temple of Dagon; that he had been used to go out with the armies of the Philistines, and had obtained victories, and slain many, and yet had never been made captain of a thousand among them; all which is improbable, and some of it notoriously false; for in every battle after the taking of the ark the Philistines had been beaten.