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What the Bible says about David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17:1 - 1 Samuel 17:18

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah.

Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.

The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.

He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;

on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.

His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.

If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”

10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.

11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old.

13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.

14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul,

15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.

18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them.

Read more from NKJV Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible

Life Lessons: 1 Samuel 17:1–58


Earlier passages confirmed that Goliath came from an area that had many tall people. Even though it wasn’t unusual for two armies to send out their best soldiers to fight in place of an all-out war, the Israelites had no one to compare to nine-foot-tall Goliath.


Though the Israelites feared losing to Goliath, they forgot who had called them to enter the Promised Land. Though they had seen God fight for them in many previous battles, they neglected to trust Him in this one. David’s focus was not on the size of the enemy, but on God.


There are certain things anyone knows not to do. . . . You don’t fight a lion with a toothpick. You don’t sneeze into the wind. You don’t go bear hunting with a cork gun. And you don’t send a shepherd boy to battle a giant.

You don’t, that is, unless you are out of options. Saul was. And it is when we are out of options that we are most ready for God’s surprises.

Was Saul ever surprised!

The king tried to give David some equipment. “What do you want, boy? Shield? Sword? Grenades? Rifles? A helicopter? We’ll make a Rambo out of you.”

David had something else in mind. Five smooth stones and an ordinary leather sling.

The soldiers gasped. Saul sighed. Goliath jeered. David swung. And God made His point. “Anyone who underestimates what God can do with the ordinary has rocks in his head.” (From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)


What battle are you facing this week? Even if it’s bigger than you can handle, it’s not bigger than God can handle. Proceed with His backing.


Don’t Be Afraid—Deuteronomy 31:6; Isaiah 46:4; Daniel 6:27; Matthew 10:28–31; John 14:27; 2 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 13:6.

We, like David, have two choices: flee or face the giant.—Max Lucado (Facing Your Giants)

1 Samuel 17:49

49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

Read more from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the Old Testament

Struck the Philistine on the forehead (17:49). Questions have been raised concerning whether a stone from David’s sling could have struck Goliath’s forehead, given the kinds of helmets that Philistines are depicted as wearing (see illustration). But the biblical text does not suggest that Goliath’s armor was typical Philistine hardware but exceptional (see sidebar on “Goliath’s Armor” at 17:5 – 7). That said, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word rendered “greave” in verse 6 (miṣḥâ), which occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible, is very close, if not identical, to the Hebrew word for “forehead” (mēṣah). Noting this curiosity, A. Deem has suggested that David’s stone finds its mark not in Goliath’s forehead but at the “greave” in the gap required for walking. It is difficult to decide between these two interpretations; in either case Goliath is toppled and quickly dispatched by David, using Goliath’s own sword (v. 51).

1 Samuel 16:1 - 1 Samuel 16:18

Samuel Anoints David

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’

Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”

Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”

10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”

11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

David in Saul’s Service

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.

16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

Read more from NKJV Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible

Life Lessons: 1 Samuel 16:1–23


God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. This new king would replace King Saul, who had failed to obey God.


God does not see or judge in the same way that humans do. People look at the outside appearance or qualifications, but God looks at the heart. He evaluates our inner disposition and character.


None were more shunned by their culture than the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the deaf. They had no place. No name. No value. Canker sores on the culture. Excess baggage on the side of the road. But those whom the people called trash, Jesus called treasures.

In my closet hangs a sweater that I seldom wear. It is too small. The sleeves are too short, the shoulders too tight. Some of the buttons are missing, and the thread is frazzled. I should throw that sweater away. I have no use for it. I’ll never wear it again. Logic says I should clear out the space and get rid of the sweater.

That’s what logic says.

But love won’t let me.

Something unique about the sweater makes me keep it. What is unusual about it? For one thing, it has no label. Nowhere on the garment will you find a tag that reads, “Made In Taiwan,” or “Wash in Cold Water.” It has no tag because it wasn’t made in a factory. It has no label because it wasn’t produced on an assembly line. It isn’t the product of a nameless employee earning a living. It’s the creation of a devoted mother expressing her love.

That sweater is unique. One of a kind. It can’t be replaced. Each strand was chosen with care. Each thread was selected with affection.

And though the sweater has lost all of its use, it has lost none of its value. It is valuable not because of its function, but because of its maker.

That must have been what the psalmist had in mind when he wrote, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Think on those words. You were knitted together. You aren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth by the Master Craftsman.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

In a society that has little room for second fiddles, that’s good news. In a culture where the door of opportunity opens only once and then slams shut, that is a revelation. In a system that ranks the value of a human by the figures of his salary or the shape of her legs . . . let me tell you something: Jesus’ plan is a reason for joy! Jesus told John that a new kingdom was coming—a kingdom where people have value not because of what they do, but because of whose they are. (From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)


We often pick leaders by credentials rather than character. Next time you must select a leader, ask questions about character—not about résumé. Spend more time cultivating your character than your references.


God’s Insight—Exodus 4:10–16; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 1:6–8; 17:9, 10.