Today’s CTT is going to be a little bit different. Undoubtedly you’ve heard the story of David defeating Goliath in your Sunday school class growing up, or perhaps in an adult Church service, or maybe on ESPN. Okay, well, if you caught it on ESPN, you probably only know it as a colloquialism for “an underdog’s victory”. If you grew up in an emergent/emerging/seeker-sensitive church, you probably heard sermons that tell the story of David defeating Goliath and then asking you, “what’s your Goliath?”. If you grew up in an NAR church, you’ve undoubtedly been taught that this was reflective of the “5 fold ministry”, possibly even emphasizing the office of the Apostle. We aren’t going to discuss any of that here today. The Bible isn’t about us, it is about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The primary text for this CTT will be 1 Samuel 17 (ESV). Please, do take the time to read this passage in its entirety and double-check my work. In yesterday’s post, we looked at what the people of Israel were looking for in the Messiah, the Christ. We looked at how many of the prophesies regarding the Christ come as a promise to king David, that there will always be a man sitting on the throne of David. Now, we are first introduced to David, the youngest son of Jesse, the Ephrathite from Bethlehem, in 1 Samuel 16. The Lord God sent Samuel to anoint David as King of Israel, and the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and rushed upon David from that day forward. God chose David, and led Samuel to him. Notice the testimony of David that is given to Saul before any recorded acts of valor:
1 Samuel 16:14-23 (ESV) 14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.
Quite the testimony. I think it is important to highlight who David was before the Goliath encounter. God had already chosen him, anointed him, and He was with him. He was already a skillful musician, a man of valor and a man of war, prudent in speech and of good presence. Too often, these qualities are overlooked in favor of eisegeting an “underdog story” about how we all are called to “defeat our own giants”. That, would be a very incomplete thought, indeed. Let’s move on to the next chapter.
1 Samuel 17 (ESV) 1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I 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.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.
19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”
Okay. Now keeping a finger here (or opening up a new tab in your browser), let’s look at some other verses.
Luke 2:1-6 (ESV) 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV) 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Luke 4 (ESV) 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil…13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
John 13:21-27 (ESV) 21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
So, here we have the setup. As Goliath challenged Israel to send a man to fight him to decide the fate of all of Israel, so too we have God’s Anointed, the Christ, the Messiah about to take on once and for all the battle for all of mankind. The last time Satan went toe-to-toe with mankind, he secured victory in leading Adam to rebel against God by sin. However, his victory came with a promise made to the serpent regarding eve, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV). Adam failed, but a rematch was scheduled, and now the battle lines have been redrawn. The Apostle Paul articulates it well in Romans:
Romans 5:18-19 (ESV) 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
Now, lets return to 1 Samuel 17
1 Samuel 17:28-30 (ESV) 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled 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 presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.
Even the rejection/rebuke by his brothers points to Jesus.
John 7:2-7 (ESV) 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.
See also Luke 4:16-30 (ESV)
Now, lets finish up the story in 1 Samuel:
37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.
41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
The significance of the 5 smooth stones that points to Jesus? Chris Rosebrough talked about it this way, “Jesus was pierced 5 times, once in each hand and each foot, and a final piercing in his side.” I would also like to add that Goliath fell dead from a single stone. I believe this points to the fact that Christ’s death was once and for all as Paul described in Hebrews 10.
Hebrews 10 (ESV) 1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
May the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, be forever praised! The primary lesson of the story of David and Goliath, is its foreshadowing of Christ’s victory of sin and death at the cross. Can other parallels be drawn from this narrative? Perhaps, however I would caution you against reading yourselves into this text. We aren’t all “called to slay Goliaths”, for the battle is clearly, and unequivocally the Lord’s. This narrative, as well as the whole of Scriptures, is focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the love of our Living God.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
A very interesting archeological examination of the possible battlefield can be found here: http://www.netours.com/content/view/241/69/
7 thoughts on “CTT | David and Goliath”
From the comments of King Saul when David offers to fight him, it’s not really eisegesis as such to characterise it as an underdog story. Yes, David was already in the house of Saul, where one of Saul’s men praised him to the king as “a valiant man and a warrior”. But contrast that to where David offers to fight Goliath: Saul says “You cannot go up to fight him, for you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth”.
Evidently he’s still an underdog. It’s possible that all the praise of him was a polite exaggeration by Saul’s man designed to make him look good to the king. Or that, though he was “a valiant man and a warrior”, it still looked like no contest against the six-cubits-one-span Goliath.
Still, a fascinating perspective on this passage.
Certainly as the Messianic “Son of David” we should look to the life of David for parallels to Jesus. This fits into that mould very well.
Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. The problem with approaching this as an “underdog story” is that it draws the focus onto “David versus Goliath” rather than Goliath versus the Living God. David looked like an underdog, but he knew he never was. David wasn’t fighting Goliath on his own. He was not engaging Goliath on David’s terms, or to defend himself from Goliath. David didn’t go after Goliath in his own name, but in the name of the Lord. He was never the underdog, because the Living God is never the underdog. The biggest problem with the popular teaching of this story is that it gets dumbed down and turned into a formula and a “more relevant” model. We allegorize David to be any of us who are struggling with fear or feelings of inadequacy and we allegorize Goliath to be anything we perceive to be “standing in our way” or “threatening our ministry”.
Rather than mute the praise of David, I think it better to point out that in Goliath’s challenge to Israel, he mentioned Saul directly. Saul had become famous for conquering the Philistines as a new king of Israel, when the Spirit of the Lord was with him. But at this point, the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, for he sinned and did what was evil in the sight of God. Saul was afraid. Saul no longer understood that it was not by might nor power that the victory over Goliath and the Philistines would be secured. Remember, should David answer Goliath’s challenge and fail, all of Israel would be enslaved by the Philistines. No, I see no need to down-play the praise of David’s character by the servant of Saul. David was a young man of valor, a man of war, and the Spirit of the Lord was with him.
I think you’ve maybe heard this more dumbed-down than I have; whenever I’ve heard it preached it’s been an “underdog story” in the visible realm, but the emphasis has always been on the more unseen battle of Goliath defying the Living God and David being the only Israelite with enough faith and gumption to stand up and be counted.
David triumphed because he knew what the real battle was about – this uncircumcised Philistine had defied God and was thus under judgement whether he knew it or not. His doom was sealed when he defied God. All it took was someone with the faith to stand.
Still, in the purely natural realm it’s still an underdog story. That was all Saul could see at this point, and it’s all Goliath could see. David wasn’t looking at the natural, though, but at the spiritual, where he could see what was really going on. The story for me is about whether we are going to have eyes of flesh or eyes that see in the Spirit, like David. No wonder the Bible calls him a man of a different spirit, after God’s own heart!
I get what you’re saying, but no matter how you look at it, even if it’s about an underdog story, we didn’t have the ability to fight until Christ crushed Satan’s head at the cross. Only then, like the rest of the Israelite army at the end of the story, can we run onto the battlefield with Christ leading us
I just watched a wonderful synopsis of this story by the folks at WWUTT (When We Understand the Text): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQLOPFCIEM
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