17Now 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. 2And 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. 3And 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. 4And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was sixHebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four cubits and a span. 5He 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 shekelsA shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams of bronze. 6And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7The 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. 8He 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. 9If 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." 10And the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together." 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
12Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew years among men 13The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. 16For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.
17And Jesse said to David his son, "Take for your brothers an ephahAn ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them."
19Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20And 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. 21And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23As 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.
24All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25And 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." 26And 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?" 27And the people answered him in the same way, "So shall it be done to the man who kills him."
28Now 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." 29And David said, "What have I done now? Was it not but a word?" 30And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.
31When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." 33And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth." 34But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." 37And 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!"
38Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39and 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. 40Then 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.
41And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The 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." 45Then 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. 46This 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, 47and 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."
48When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49And 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.
50So 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. 51Then 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. 52And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as GathSeptuagint; Hebrew Gai and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.
55As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is this youth?" And Abner said, "As your soul lives, O king, I do not know." 56And the king said, "Inquire whose son the boy is." 57And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58And Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" And David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
Friends, may I be vulnerable with you? I’ve had some “Goliaths” in my life lately. It’s been unpleasant. Perhaps you can relate. There is not a violent army of Philistines encamped around me. There is no tall angry man yelling taunts my direction. My giants are proverbial, but they threaten me nonetheless. Upheaval in my living situation. Multiple relationships destroyed through brokenness or death. Mounting pressures at work. Physical exhaustion. Walking closely with friends in the midst of struggle. Discouragement about current events. Question marks about health. Spiritual battles. And—let’s be honest, I am often my OWN worst “giant”—my flesh staring me in the face, daring me to question God’s provision, second-guess His goodness, and make light of His gifts. These trials quickly become weapons in the hand of a very real enemy seeking to devour my soul.
From here, I would love to be able to tell you a great underdog story. We all love a good one—Remember the Titans, Chariots of Fire, Rudy. That is not what we have here. The story of David and Goliath is NOT an underdog story. Why? Because Goliath’s competition isn’t David. It’s God. GOLIATH is the underdog. In other words, this is 1916 Georgia Tech beating Cumberland College 222-0. This is F.D. Roosevelt’s 523 electoral college votes to Alf Landon’s 8 in 1936. The underdog gets slaughtered. We see it again in 2 Kings 6, when armies flee from the presence of Elisha as God reveals the hoard of angels at his back. There is no fair fight when it comes to God.
This understanding of the David and Goliath story does not diminish my “giants.” They are real. They cause pain. Rather, it puts them in perspective. Compared to me, the giants look menacing. Compared to God, the competition is a joke. David walked out to face Goliath without fear that day not because he knew who he was or even because he knew who Goliath was, but because he knew who his God was. Can you imagine facing our giants without Him? But imagine if we knew our God so well that our instinct would be not simply to put up with the presence of our Goliaths, but to rise up and face them with “power and love and a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
In light of this, the core question of our existence inevitably becomes: what, then, does it mean to KNOW this God who is with us in our battles? In his famous classic, Knowing God, J. I. Packer states, “What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?” In response to the question, “how does one do this?” I would counter: how does anyone know anyone? We must immerse ourselves in the skill (keyword) of knowing another being deeply, then turn that practice upon the God of the universe.