Friday, December 7, 2012

XCVII - I Samuel 17 - David and Goliath

In the last chapter, David had been anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as the king of Israel.  God had rejected Saul as king, and David was God's chosen successor.  We also saw where David was brought into king Saul's service as a musician in hopes to soothe the tormented Saul in his times of uncontrollable rage.  David pleased Saul so much that Saul made David an armor-bearer and kept him as his servant full time.  Over time, David had proven himslf trustworthy and was granted freedom to "come and go" as he pleased, which gave him time to stay in close contact with his father Jesse and his seven brothers.

Chapter 17 abruptly returns focus to the Philistines.  I'm not certain how much time has passed since the events of chapter 16, but evidently there has been a battle brewing between Israel and the Philistines yet again.  As told in the first verse, the battle lines had been established between Saul's forces and the Philistines.  While Israel was sizing up the situation, a giant Philistine soldier named Goliath strolled into the valley which separated the armies.  He was 9 feet and 9 inches tall.  He was an experience warrior and had the finest armor and weapons.  His helmet and coat of scale armor were made of bronze and together weighed 125 pounds.  Vs 7 says his spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed 15 pounds.  {There were giants back then as mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy.  But this particular giant was the ultimate.  None were ever described as compared with Goliath in size or strength.}  In vss 8-->, Goliath presented himself in the valley between the two armies.  He shouted to the Israelites, challenging them to present their best warrior.  This Israelite soldier and Goliath would fight to the finish, and if Goliath won, Israel would become servants to the Philistines.  And if the Israelite soldier would have won, the Philistines would become Israel's servants.  This giant was so powerful that Saul and the Israelites trembled with fear each time he spoke.  {This deal offered by Goliath has not been unheard of.  Even Greek mythology, during the Trojan war, Hector fought Achilles.  I want to mention before I forget that it was customary for the king or his prince to represent the nation in this type of battle.  Although Saul was a mighty warrior, he knew he was no match for Goliath.}  Vss 12-->  David was the youngest son of Jesse.  The three oldest sons, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah were members of Saul's army.  {They were probably drafted into the army as the Philistines were marching toward Saul's kingdom.}  Jesse sent David to the front to take his brothers some food and to report back to Jesse the state of the battle.  When David got to the battle line, he seems to have "hung around" rather than going right back home.  While David was still at the line, Goliath came out again to make his challenge and further taunt the fearful Israelites.  We see two things that happened with David.  Firstly, he was made aware that the king (Saul) offered his daughter and great wealth to any man who faught and defeated Goliath.  It appears as though David was somewhat intrigued with such an offer by the king.  But more importantly to David's character, he was appauled by this "uncircumsized Philistine" speaking so disrespectfully to God's people.  {This is important:  David was offended for God's sake.  Think on this.  I think God's love and devotion to David started right here.  That's what God has been longing for.  God created man after He created the heavens, the earth and the universe, and everything therein.  Man was God's finest achievement in all that He created.  And He wants us to love Him and fellowship with him.  David's heart was right.  David's heart could not have ached for Someone he did not care deeply about.}  After David heard Goliath insult God's army, Goliath's size meant nothing to him.  David knew this godless heathen must be dealt with before he could humiliate God's people any further.  In verse 28, Eliab scolded David for still being at the front line and told him to go home.  David continued to voice disgust with what was going on with Goliath and wanted to fight the giant himself.  In verse 31 Saul heard about David making those comments and sent for him.  The reason Saul heard abut it was that there was nothing but complete silence in response to Saul's offer of his daughter and much wealth.  So, no wonder David's words reached Saul so quickly.

Saul was a bit disappointed to see that it was such a young boy who had stepped forward.  Saul wanted a mighty warrior who stood a good chance against the giant.  But David made his case in vss  34-->,  telling of his conquests of bears and lions.  Look at verse 37  "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine".  Finally Saul said, "Go".  Saul had David dressed in the finest attire for battle, but David was not comfortable.  He was not accustomed to such armor weighing him down, so he took it all off.  Then he gathered five smooth stones from a stream, put them in his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand he approached Goliath.  The stream from which David gathered those choice stones would of course be in the valley which separated the two armies.  So when David gathered these stones, he was in plain sight.  In vs 42 Goliath and his armor-bearer began approaching David.  As Goliath got close enough to see that David was just a boy, he taunted then cursed David.  (Big mistake)
David speaks in response:  Verse 45  David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  (46) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.  This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  (47) All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give all of you into our hands."

WOW!  What a speech!  I wonder what went through Goliath's mind, hearing this from a boy.  I would think he was both amazed and angry to hear a boy talk to him like that.  Goliath was accustomed to only fear in his enemies.

Vs 48 -->  David didn't wait for Goliath.  David ran toward him.  When he got close enough, he put a stone into the sling, whirled it around and let it go so that the stone hit Goliath in the forehead.  It actually sank into his forehead, killing him instantly.  David then ran over to the dead body, took Goliath's sword, and cut off his head.  Just like he said he was going to do.  When the Philistine army saw this, the were struck with terror.  They knew they were no match for the power of Israel's God, Who could make such a thing happen.  The Israelite soldiers chase after the Phlistines and killed many of them and plundered their camp.

Then (I'm a little confused) Saul asked his captain Abner who it was that did this and Abner said "I don't know".  I'm not confused that Saul didn't know because Saul had huge mental problems.  But I would surely have thought that Abner and other servants would have known David very well.  Anyway, in the last verse of this chapter David identifies himself.

Next post - Chapter 18  -  Saul gets jealous of David

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