Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 17-18
A Royal Internship (1 Samuel 16)
The spiritual condition of ancient Israel parallels the spiritual and moral failure of those nations that reject the LORD, His Law, and Commandments. Having rejected the LORD as King, Israel demanded a king, and God gave them a king whose character was like their own…weak, and disobedient.
Now, the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and his spirit was troubled (16:14-16). The suggestion of a court musician, one skilled in playing the harp, and whose music would calm the despondent king (16:16-18), had providentially brought David into favor with the king, and he came to dwell in the palace (16:19-23).
1 Samuel 17 – David, the Giant Slayer
Saul’s character flaws had taken their toll on the nation, and in 1 Samuel 17 we find the people fearful, uncertain, and disheartened. The Philistines had invaded Israel, and were aligned against Saul and his army (17:1). The armies of the two nations were encamped on opposite mountains, with a valley about one mile wide lying between them (17:2). Periodic engagements of the armies had given neither a victory, but it was the challenge of a giant Philistine named Goliath that had impaled the men of Israel with fear (17:4-7). His height was described as “six cubits and a span” (est. nine feet, nine inches tall), and his armor alone weighed nearly one hundred and fifty pounds.
For forty days, Goliath taunted the men of Israel, and mocked the LORD. He had challenged the nation to put forth a champion to fight him, and the nation whose champion was slain would serve the other (17:8-10). Israel’s response to Goliath was like their king’s, for we read, “When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (17:11).
David’s Character (17:17-22)
It is not necessary for me to rehearse the story of David’s response to Goliath’s derisions (17:12-30), king’s Saul’s comical attempt to dress the young shepherd in his armor (17:31-39), or David’s courage and faith in the LORD (17:40-54). Rather, I invite you to consider five virtues evidenced in David’s life, that should inspire all who love the LORD.
The first virtue is that he was obedient. David’s brothers were in Saul’s army, and when his father commanded him to take supplies to his brothers, he “took, and went, as Jesse had commanded” (17:17-20). David was also punctual, for the next day he “rose up early in the morning” to go to his brethren (17:20). It was David’s obedience, and his promptness that providentially put him at the front to hear Goliath’s challenge (17:23). David was conscientious in his duties, for when he left for Israel’s encampment, he insured his responsibilities were covered, and “left the sheep with a keeper” (17:20), and his “carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage” (17:22). He was also zealous, and was a picture of a dedicated, determined servant. Four times, David is described as running to his duties (17:17, 22, 48, 51). Finally, I believe David was selfless. He was the youngest of eight sons, and we have already seen he was often overlooked, and slighted. In spite of his brother’s petty jealousies, and the mistreatments he suffered, his greeting to his brothers expressed a genuine concern for their well-being.
David’s Passion (17:26-51)
David was jealous for the name of the LORD, and the welfare of his nation (17:26-45). Goliath’s curses, and his mocking the LORD, enraged David, and he would not be still, or keep silent when God’s name was blasphemed (17:45). Saul, and Israel saw a giant, but David saw an opportunity! With faith, and courage, he declared, “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel… the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands” (17:46-47).
1 Samuel 18 – A brief review
1 Samuel 18 finds David residing in the king’s palace, and befriended by Jonathan, the son of Saul (18:1-4). David’s fame as a warrior continued to increase in Israel, and the king perceived he would become a threat to his reign, and lineage, and determined to kill him (18:5-30).
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith