1 Samuel 17

David defeats Goliath

1 The Philistines assembled their troops for war at Socoh of Judah. They camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes-dammim.
2 Saul and the Israelite army assembled and camped in the Elah Valley, where they got organized to fight the Philistines.
3 The Philistines took positions on one hill while Israel took positions on the opposite hill. There was a valley between them.
4 A champion named Goliath from Gath came out from the Philistine camp. He was more than nine feet tall.
5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore bronze scale-armor weighing one hundred twenty-five pounds.
6 He had bronze plates on his shins, and a bronze scimitar hung on his back.
7 His spear shaft was as strong as the bar on a weaver's loom, and its iron head weighed fifteen pounds. His shield-bearer walked in front of him.
8 He stopped and shouted to the Israelite troops, "Why have you come and taken up battle formations? I am the Philistine champion, and you are Saul's servants. Isn't that right? Select one of your men, and let him come down against me.
9 If he is able to fight me and kill me, then we will become your slaves, but if I overcome him and kill him, then you will become our slaves and you will serve us.
10 I insult Israel's troops today!" the Philistine continued, "Give me an opponent, and we'll fight!"
11 When Saul and all Israel heard what the Philistine said, they were distressed and terrified.
12 Now David was Jesse's son, an Ephraimite from Bethlehem in Judah who had eight sons. By Saul's time, Jesse was already quite old and far along in age.
13 Jesse's three oldest sons had gone with Saul to war. Their names were Eliab the oldest, Abinadab the second oldest, and Shammah the third oldest.
14 (David was the youngest.) These three older sons followed Saul,
15 but David went back and forth from Saul's side to shepherd his father's flock in Bethlehem.
16 For forty days straight the Philistine came out and took his stand, both morning and evening.
17 Jesse said to his son David, "Please take your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread. Deliver them quickly to your brothers in the camp.
18 And here, take these ten wedges of cheese to their unit commander. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring back some sign that they are okay.
19 They are with Saul and all the Israelite troops fighting the Philistines in the Elah Valley."
20 So David got up early in the morning, left someone in charge of the flock, and loaded up and left, just as his father Jesse had instructed him. He reached the camp right when the army was taking up their battle formations and shouting the war cry.
21 Israel and the Philistines took up their battle formations opposite each other.
22 David left his things with an attendant and ran to the front line. When he arrived, he asked how his brothers were doing.
23 Right when David was speaking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came forward from the Philistine ranks and said the same things he had said before. David listened.
24 When the Israelites saw Goliath, every one of them ran away terrified of him. (
25 Now the Israelite soldiers had been saying to each other: "Do you see this man who keeps coming out? How he comes to insult Israel? The king will reward with great riches whoever kills that man. The king will give his own daughter to him and make his household exempt from taxes in Israel.")
26 David asked the soldiers standing by him, "What will be done for the person who kills that Philistine over there and removes this insult from Israel? Who is that uncircumcised Philistine, anyway, that he can get away with insulting the army of the living God?"
27 Then the troops repeated to him what they had been saying. "So that's what will be done for the man who kills him," they said.
28 When David's oldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the soldiers, he got very mad at David. "Why did you come down here?" he said. "Who is watching those few sheep for you in the wilderness? I know how arrogant you are and your devious plan: you came down just to see the battle!"
29 "What did I do wrong this time?" David replied. "It was just a question!"
30 So David turned to someone else and asked the same thing, and the people said the same thing in reply.
31 The things David had said were overheard and reported to Saul, who sent for him.
32 "Don't let anyone lose courage because of this Philistine!" David told Saul. "I, your servant, will go out and fight him!"
33 "You can't go out and fight this Philistine," Saul answered David. "You are still a boy. But he's been a warrior since he was a boy!"
34 "Your servant has kept his father's sheep," David replied to Saul, “and if ever a lion or a bear came and carried off one of the flock,
35 I would go after it, strike it, and rescue the animal from its mouth. If it turned on me, I would grab it at its jaw, strike it, and kill it.
36 Your servant has fought both lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them because he has insulted the army of the living God.
37 "The LORD, " David added, "who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine." "Go!" Saul replied to David. "And may the LORD be with you!"
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own gear, putting a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.
39 David strapped his sword on over the armor, but he couldn't walk around well because he'd never tried it before. "I can't walk in this," David told Saul, "because I've never tried it before." So he took them off.
40 He then grabbed his staff and chose five smooth stones from the streambed. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag and with sling in hand went out to the Philistine.
41 The Philistine got closer and closer to David, and his shield-bearer was in front of him.
42 When the Philistine looked David over, he sneered at David because he was just a boy; reddish brown and good-looking.
43 The Philistine asked David, "Am I some sort of dog that you come at me with sticks?" And he cursed David by his gods.
44 "Come here," he said to David, "and I'll feed your flesh to the wild birds and the wild animals!"
45 But David told the Philistine, "You are coming against me with sword, spear, and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of heavenly forces, the God of Israel's army, the one you've insulted.
46 Today the LORD will hand you over to me. I will strike you down and cut off your head! Today I will feed your dead body and the dead bodies of the entire Philistine camp to the wild birds and the wild animals. Then the whole world will know that there is a God on Israel's side.
47 And all those gathered here will know that the LORD doesn't save by means of sword and spear. The LORD owns this war, and he will hand all of you over to us."
48 The Philistine got up and moved closer to attack David, and David ran quickly to the front line to face him.
49 David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone. He slung it, and it hit the Philistine on his forehead. The stone penetrated his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 And that's how David triumphed over the Philistine with just a sling and a stone, striking the Philistine down and killing him—and David didn't even have a sword!
51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine. He grabbed the Philistine's sword, drew it from its sheath, and finished him off. Then David cut off the Philistine's head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they fled.
52 The soldiers from Israel and Judah jumped up with a shout and chased the Philistines all the way to Gath and the gates of Ekron. The dead Philistines were littered along the Shaarim road all the way to Gath and Ekron.
53 When the Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.
54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put the Philistine's weapons in his own tent.
55 Now when Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, he asked Abner the army general, "Abner, whose son is that boy?" "As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don't know," Abner answered.
56 "Then find out whose son that young man is," the king replied.
57 So when David came back from killing the Philistine, Abner sent for him and presented him to Saul. The Philistine's head was still in David's hand.
58 Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, my boy?" "I'm the son of your servant Jesse from Bethlehem," David answered.

1 Samuel 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Goliath's challenge. (1-11) David comes to the camp. (12-30) David undertakes to fight Goliath. (31-39) and goes to meet him. (40-47) He kills Goliath. (48-58)

Verses 1-11 Men so entirely depend upon God in all things, that when he withdraws his help, the most valiant and resolute cannot find their hearts or hands, as daily experience shows.

Verses 12-30 Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army at that critical juncture; but the wise God orders actions and affairs, so as to serve his designs. In times of general formality and lukewarmness, every degree of zeal which implies readiness to go further, or to venture more in the cause of God than others, will be blamed as pride and ambition, and by none more than by near relations, like Eliab, or negligent superiors. It was a trial of David's meekness, patience, and constancy. He had right and reason on his side, and did not render railing for railing; with a soft answer he turned away his brother's wrath. This conquest of his own passion was more honourable than that of Goliath. Those who undertake great and public services, must not think it strange if they are spoken ill of, and opposed by those from whom they expect support and assistance. They must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of enemies' threats, but of friends' slights and suspicions.

Verses 31-39 A shepherd lad, come the same morning from keeping sheep, had more courage than all the mighty men of Israel. Thus God often sends good words to his Israel, and does great things for them, by the weak and foolish things of the world. As he had answered his brother's passion with meekness, so David answered Saul's fear with faith. When David kept sheep, he proved himself very careful and tender of his flock. This reminds us of Christ, the good Shepherd, who not only ventured, but laid down his life for the sheep. Our experience ought to encourage us to trust in God, and be bold in the way of duty. He that has delivered, does and will continue to do so. David gained leave to fight the Philistine. Not being used to such armour as Saul put upon him, he was not satisfied to go in that manner; this was from the Lord, that it might more plainly appear he fought and conquered in faith, and that the victory was from Him who works by the feeblest and most despised means and instruments. It is not to be inquired how excellent any thing is, but how proper. Let Saul's coat be ever so rich, and his armour ever so strong, what is David the better if they fit him not? But faith, prayer, truth, and righteousness; the whole armour of God, and the mind that was in Christ; are equally needful for all the servants of the Lord, whatever may be their work.

Verses 40-47 The security and presumption of fools destroy them. Nothing can excel the humility, faith, and piety which appear in David's words. He expressed his assured expectation of success; he gloried in his mean appearance and arms, that the victory might be ascribed to the Lord alone.

Verses 48-58 See how frail and uncertain life is, even when a man thinks himself best fortified; how quickly, how easily, and by how small a matter, the passage may be opened for life to go out, and death to enter! Let not the strong man glory in his strength, nor the armed man in his armour. God resists the proud, and pours contempt on those who defy him and his people. No one ever hardened his heart against God and prospered. The history is recorded, that all may exert themselves for the honour of God, and the support of his cause, with bold and unshaken reliance on him. There is one conflict in which all the followers of the Lamb are, and must be engaged; one enemy, more formidable than Goliath, still challenges the armies of Israel. But "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Go forth to battle with the faith of David, and the powers of darkness shall not stand against you. But how often is the Christian foiled through an evil heart of unbelief!

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. LXX over six feet tall
  • [b]. Five thousand shekels
  • [c]. Qere, LXX, Syr (cf 2 Sam 21:19); Kethib the point of his spear
  • [d]. Six hundred shekels
  • [e]. MT the Philistine lacks champion.
  • [f]. The following verses are absent from LXXB: 17:12-31, 41, 48b, 50, 55-58.
  • [g]. LXX, Syr
  • [h]. One ephah is approximately twenty quarts.
  • [i]. Heb uncertain
  • [j]. LXX my master (the king)
  • [k]. LXX; MT lacks your dead body.
  • [l]. LXX; MT Gai or a valley

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 17

This chapter relates how the armies of Israel, and of the Philistines, prepared for battle, and where, 1Sa 17:1-3, describes a champion of the Philistines, who defied the armies of Israel, 1Sa 17:4-11, and while he was so doing, it informs us that David came into the camp, and he heard his words, and signified to one and another his inclination to fight with him, 1Sa 17:12-30, which being reported to Saul, David was sent for by him, and much discourse passed between them about it, 1Sa 17:31-37 when we are told the manner in which he engaged with the Philistine, and the victory he obtained over him, 1Sa 17:38-51 upon which the Philistines fled, and Israel pursued them; and on account of this action David was taken notice of by Saul, and brought to court again, as the following chapter shows, 1Sa 17:52-58.

1 Samuel 17 Commentaries