1 Samuel 17

Goliath's Challenge

1 Now 1the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between 2Socoh and 3Azekah, in 4Ephes-dammim.
2 Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in 5the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines.
3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.
4 Then a champion * came out from the armies of the Philistines named 6Goliath, from 7Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.
6 He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a 8bronze javelin slung between his shoulders.
7 9The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; 10his shield-carrier * also walked before him.
8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you 11servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.
9 "12If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us."
10 Again the Philistine said, "13I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together."
11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
12 Now David was 14the son of the 15Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and 16he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men.
13 The three older sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. And 17the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and the second to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.
14 18David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed * Saul,
15 19but David went * back and forth from Saul 20to tend his father's flock at Bethlehem.
16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand.
17 Then Jesse said to David his son, "21Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers.
18 "22Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, 23and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them.
19 "For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines."

David Accepts the Challenge

20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the 24circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry.
21 Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army.
22 Then David left his 25baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet * his brothers.
23 As he was talking with them, behold, the champion *, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke 26these same words; and David heard them.
24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.
25 The men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and 27will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel."
26 Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away 28the reproach from Israel? For who is this 29uncircumcised Philistine, that he should 30taunt the armies of 31the living God?"
27 The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, "32Thus it will be done for the man who kills him."
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and 33Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle."
29 But David said, "What have I done now? Was it not just a question?"
30 Then he turned away * from him to another and 34said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before.

David Kills Goliath

31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, "35Let no man's heart fail on account of him; 36your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."
33 Then Saul said to David, "37You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth."
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock,
35 I went out after him and attacked him, and 38rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
36 "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God."
37 And David said, "39The 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." And Saul said to David, "40Go, and may the LORD be with you."
38 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor.
39 David girded his sword over * his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot * go with these, for I have not tested them." And David took them off *.
40 He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and 41his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.
41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer * in front of him.
42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, 42he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and 43ruddy, with a handsome appearance.
43 The Philistine said to David, "44Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And 45the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44 The Philistine also said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh 46to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field."
45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, 47but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.
46 "This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the 48dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, 49that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
47 and that all this assembly may know that 50the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; 51for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands."
48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that 52David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.
50 Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand.
51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and 53took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. 54When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
52 The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of 55Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to 56Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron.
53 The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps.
54 Then David took the Philistine's head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent.
55 Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is 57this young man?" And Abner said, "By your life, O king, I do not know."
56 The king said, "You inquire whose son the youth is."
57 So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and 58brought him before Saul with the Philistine's head in his hand.
58 Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" And David answered, "59I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

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!

Cross References 59

  • 1. 1 Samuel 13:5
  • 2. Joshua 15:35; 2 Chronicles 28:18
  • 3. Joshua 10:10
  • 4. 1 Chronicles 11:13
  • 5. 1 Samuel 21:9
  • 6. 2 Samuel 21:19
  • 7. Joshua 11:22
  • 8. 1 Samuel 17:45
  • 9. 2 Samuel 21:19; 1 Chronicles 11:23
  • 10. 1 Samuel 17:41
  • 11. 1 Samuel 8:17
  • 12. 2 Samuel 2:12-16
  • 13. 1 Sam 17:26, 36, 45; 2 Samuel 21:21
  • 14. Ruth 4:22; 1 Samuel 16:18
  • 15. Genesis 35:19
  • 16. 1 Samuel 16:10, 11; 1 Chronicles 2:13-15
  • 17. 1 Sam 16:6, 8, 9
  • 18. 1 Samuel 16:11
  • 19. 1 Samuel 16:21-23
  • 20. 1 Samuel 16:11, 19
  • 21. 1 Samuel 25:18
  • 22. 1 Samuel 16:20
  • 23. Genesis 37:13, 14
  • 24. 1 Samuel 26:5, 7
  • 25. Judges 18:21; Isaiah 10:28
  • 26. 1 Samuel 17:8-10
  • 27. Joshua 15:16
  • 28. 1 Samuel 11:2
  • 29. 1 Samuel 14:6; 1 Samuel 17:36; Jeremiah 9:25, 26
  • 30. 1 Samuel 17:10
  • 31. Deuteronomy 5:26; 2 Kings 19:4; Jeremiah 10:10
  • 32. 1 Samuel 17:25
  • 33. Gen 37:4, 8-36; Proverbs 18:19; Matthew 10:36
  • 34. 1 Samuel 17:26, 27
  • 35. Deuteronomy 20:1-4
  • 36. 1 Samuel 16:18
  • 37. Numbers 13:31
  • 38. Amos 3:12
  • 39. 2 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:17, 18
  • 40. 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Chronicles 22:11, 16
  • 41. Judges 20:16
  • 42. Psalms 123:4; Proverbs 16:18
  • 43. 1 Samuel 16:12
  • 44. 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 3:8; 2 Kings 8:13
  • 45. 1 Kings 20:10
  • 46. 1 Samuel 17:46
  • 47. 2 Samuel 22:35; 2 Chronicles 32:8; Psalms 124:8; Hebrews 11:32-34
  • 48. Deuteronomy 28:26
  • 49. Joshua 4:24; 1 Kings 8:43; 1 Kings 18:36; 2 Kings 19:19; Isaiah 37:20
  • 50. 1 Samuel 14:6; 2 Chronicles 14:11; 2 Chronicles 20:15; Psalms 44:6; Hosea 1:7; Zechariah 4:6
  • 51. 2 Chronicles 20:15
  • 52. Psalms 27:3
  • 53. 1 Samuel 21:9; 2 Samuel 23:21
  • 54. Hebrews 11:34
  • 55. Joshua 15:11
  • 56. Joshua 15:36
  • 57. 1 Sam 16:12, 21, 22
  • 58. 1 Samuel 17:54
  • 59. 1 Samuel 17:12

Footnotes 23

Chapter Summary


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

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