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 their 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 (1 Samuel 16:14-16). It was suggested that a court musician be chosen, one skilled in playing the harp and whose music would calm the despondent king (1 Samuel 16:16-18).  Providentially, David was chosen. Saul favored the young man, and he was summoned to dwell in the king’s palace (1 Samuel 16:19-23).

1 Samuel 17 – David, the Giant Slayer

The Cowardice of Saul and the Challenge of Goliath (17:1-11)

As with any national leader, Saul’s character flaws took their toll on the nation, and in 1 Samuel 17, we find the people fearful, uncertain, and disheartened. Understanding the weakened leadership of Israel’s king, the Philistines invaded the land and aligned themselves against Saul and his army (1 Samuel 17:1). 

The two nations’ armies encamped on opposite mountains, with a valley about one mile wide between them (1 Samuel 17:2). Though there were periodic skirmishes between the armies, neither had gained victory. Yet, the challenge of a giant Philistine named Goliath pierced the men of Israel with fear (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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” (1 Samuel 17:11).

David’s Virtuous Character (1 Samuel 17:12-27)

I don’t need to rehearse the story of David’s response to Goliath’s derisions (1 Samuel 17:12-30), nor portray the king’s failed attempt to dress the young shepherd in his armor (1 Samuel 17:31-39). Of course, David’s courage and faith in the LORD have captured and inspired generations down through the centuries (1 Samuel 17:40-54). 

Rather than an exposition of the story, I invite you to consider five virtues evidenced in David’s life that should inspire all who love the LORD. (1 Samuel 17:17-51)

 The first virtue is that David was obedient. His 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” (1 Samuel 17:17-20). 

David was also punctual, for the next day, he “rose up early in the morning” to go to his brethren (1 Samuel 17:20). It was David’s obedience and his promptness that providentially put him at the front to hear Goliath’s challenge to Israel (1 Samuel 17:23). 

A third virtue we noticed with David was that he was conscientious. When he left for Israel’s encampment, he ensured his responsibilities at home were covered and “left the sheep with a keeper” (1 Samuel 17:20). When he arrived at the battlefront, David put his “carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage” (1 Samuel 17:22). Four times, David was described as running to his duties (1 Samuel 17:17, 22, 48, 51). 

Fourth, I believe David was selfless. He was the youngest of eight sons, and we have seen that he was often overlooked and slighted. Despite his brother’s petty jealousies and the mistreatments he suffered, his greeting to his brothers expressed a genuine concern for their well-being.

Finally, David was passionate (1 Samuel 17:26-51). He was jealous for the name of the LORD and the welfare of his nation (1 Samuel 17:26-45). Hearing Goliath’s curses and mocking of the LORD enraged David. He would not be still or keep silent when God’s name was blasphemed (1 Samuel 17:45). 

When Goliath stepped forward, King 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” (1 Samuel 17:46-47).

1 Samuel 18 – A brief preview 

1 Samuel 18 will find David residing in the king’s palace, where he will find kinship with Jonathan, the son of Saul (1 Samuel 18:1-4). David’s fame as a warrior will continue to increase in Israel. True to his flawed character, King Saul perceived David’s rise in popularity as a threat to his reign and determined to kill him (1 Samuel 18:5-30).  

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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