The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim.
Saul countered by gathering his troops near the valley of Elah.
So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.
Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was a giant of a man, measuring over nine feet tall!
References for 1 Samuel 17:4
He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds.
References for 1 Samuel 17:5
He also wore bronze leggings, and he slung a bronze javelin over his back.
The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed fifteen pounds. An armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a huge shield.
References for 1 Samuel 17:7
Goliath stood and shouted across to the Israelites, "Do you need a whole army to settle this? Choose someone to fight for you, and I will represent the Philistines. We will settle this dispute in single combat!
If your man is able to kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!
I defy the armies of Israel! Send me a man who will fight with me!"
When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
Now David was the son of a man named Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Jesse was an old man at that time, and he had eight sons in all.
Jesse's three oldest sons -- Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah -- had already joined Saul's army to fight the Philistines.
David was the youngest of Jesse's sons. Since David's three oldest brothers were in the army, they stayed with Saul's forces all the time.
But David went back and forth between working for Saul and helping his father with the sheep in Bethlehem.
For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army.
One day Jesse said to David, "Take this half-bushel of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers.
References for 1 Samuel 17:17
And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring me back a letter from them."
References for 1 Samuel 17:18
David's brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.
So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts. He arrived at the outskirts of the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries.
Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army.
David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers.
As he was talking with them, he saw Goliath, the champion from Gath, come out from the Philistine ranks, shouting his challenge to the army of Israel.
As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright.
"Have you seen the giant?" the men were asking. "He comes out each day to challenge Israel. And have you heard about the huge reward the king has offered to anyone who kills him? The king will give him one of his daughters for a wife, and his whole family will be exempted from paying taxes!"
David talked to some others standing there to verify the report. "What will a man get for killing this Philistine and putting an end to his abuse of Israel?" he asked them. "Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?"
And David received the same reply as before: "What you have been hearing is true. That is the reward for killing the giant."
But when David's oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. "What are you doing around here anyway?" he demanded. "What about those few sheep you're supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and dishonesty. You just want to see the battle!"
"What have I done now?" David replied. "I was only asking a question!"
He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer.
Then David's question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
"Don't worry about a thing," David told Saul. "I'll go fight this Philistine!"
"Don't be ridiculous!" Saul replied. "There is no way you can go against this Philistine. You are only a boy, and he has been in the army since he was a boy!"
But David persisted. "I have been taking care of my father's sheep," he said. "When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock,
I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.
I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!
The LORD who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!" Saul finally consented. "All right, go ahead," he said. "And may the LORD be with you!"
Then Saul gave David his own armor -- a bronze helmet and a coat of mail.
David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. "I can't go in these," he protested. "I'm not used to them." So he took them off again.
He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them in his shepherd's bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling, he started across to fight Goliath.
Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,
sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.
"Am I a dog," he roared at David, "that you come at me with a stick?" And he cursed David by the names of his gods.
"Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!" Goliath yelled.
David shouted in reply, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty -- the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
And everyone will know that the LORD does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. The LORD will give you to us!"
As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.
Reaching into his shepherd's bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it from his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face downward to the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine giant with only a stone and sling. And since he had no sword,
he ran over and pulled Goliath's sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran.
Then the Israelites gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron.
References for 1 Samuel 17:52
Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp.
(David took Goliath's head to Jerusalem, but he stored the Philistine's armor in his own tent.)
As Saul watched David go out to fight Goliath, he asked Abner, the general of his army, "Abner, whose son is he?" "I really don't know," Abner said.
"Well, find out!" the king told him.
After David had killed Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine's head still in his hand.
"Tell me about your father, my boy," Saul said.And David replied, "His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem."