1 Samuel 17:40-54

David Meets Goliath’s Challenge (17:40-54) The writer now begins his third cycle of confrontation-challenge-consternation in verse 40. Confrontation: David and Goliath Face Each Other (vv. 40-41) Goliath is arrogant, proud, and blasphemous. He challenges the Israelites to send him their best warrior, and the winner takes all. Can you imagine the shock to Goliath and his ego when David comes forth? Here is a young man with no defensive armor at all, and seemingly no offensive armor. David does carry a sling, but he has not yet placed a rock in it, so he certainly does not appear threatening. Challenge: David and Goliath Summon Each Other (vv. 42-51a) [1] I want to make several comments about this passage. First, observe how the writer allows Goliath to dominate the scene. Starting in verse 41, five times the writer specifically mentions the Philistine. Five times the writer specifies the subject with each verb – the Philistine this, the Philistine that. Second, notice how much press is given to David’s speech (vv. 45-47) as compared with the combat itself (vv. 48-49). We should not, however, underestimate David’s sling-and-stone routine. Such stones would range from two to three inches in diameter and, when flung by an accomplished warrior, could reach speeds of 100 to 150 miles per hour, all of which would make for a stunning victory. Third, David’s speech is the third major speech in the chapter, all of which are theologically loaded. David states that all the earth will know from the box score in tomorrow’s papers that there is a God, a real God, in Israel (v. 46). However, David especially stresses that Yahweh saves not by the instruments of human power but through the weakness of his servants.  This theme of “weakness” has been building throughout the chapter. All the important people regard David as weak. But he is the one Yahweh uses to deliver. Nor does David have the right equipment; but he demonstrates that Yahweh brings deliverance without the symbols of man’s strength. Practical Application — What matters is not whether you have the best weapons but whether you have the real God. In fact, your “inadequacy” may be precisely your qualification...

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1 Samuel 17:12-39

David Witnesses Goliath’s Challenge (1 Samuel 17:12-39)   Goliath challenges Israel. In this passage, David witnesses this challenge and the writer begins his second cycle of confrontation-challenge-consternation.   Confrontation: Philistines and Israelites Face Each Other (vv. 12-22) Goliath, the Philistine champion, is described in verses 4-11 in terms of his towering physical stature and his impressive defensive and offensive armor. David, Goliath’s opponent-to-be, is introduced in verses 12-15 by a very different description. Nothing is said here about David’s stature, his strength, or his weapons. We are simply told that he is the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, the Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah.   Why this “family” emphasis in describing David when Goliath is described in terms of his awesome looks, weapons, and aggressiveness? There are several reasons. First, it is not David’s appearance which causes God to choose him, but his heart, his character. Second, in order for David to be recognized as the one whose offspring will someday be the Messiah, he must be of the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:8-12), and he must be a Bethlehemite (see Micah 5:2). Third, his being the youngest in the family explains why he is assigned to care for the sheep, and also why his aged father sends him to deliver food to his brothers and bring back a report about their welfare.  [4]   Practical Application — In the midst of what seems to be rather mundane background information, one can miss a providential chain. The use of “now David”, “so David”, and “then David” follows David step by step until he is at the front lines and hears the brute from Gath – speak one time too many. Had he arrived a few minutes later, things might have been very different. He would have found his brothers still at their camp, where he could have simply handed them the supplies Jesse sent, asked about their well-being, and then set out for home before his three brothers go to the battle line. Had Jesse only known how much would rest on the parched grain, bread, and cheese David was lugging to his brothers. Had he only known how critical David’s mission would...

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1 Samuel 17:1-11

Goliath’s Challenge (1 Samuel 17:1-11)   There are two problems with the story of David and Goliath. First, like the story of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” and “Jonah and the Whale,” we are too familiar with them. I do not mean that we know these stories too well, for most often we do not. But we think we know them well, and consequently, we have a long list of preconceived ideas. [4] Secondly, we can get caught up in the trap of not stressing the proper accent of the biblical narrative. If we don’t listen to this text, then we’ll end up bringing in all the junk about being courageous in the face of your “Goliaths” – whether the bully down the street (for youth) or one’s poor self-image (everyone’s preoccupation). [1] As we approach this text, let us think through this text afresh. To provide us with a structure, I will follow T.A. Boogaart’s observation (as noted by Tremper Longman [2]) of a cycle of confrontation-challenge-consternation that is repeated three times in the chapter.   Confrontation: Philistines & Israelites Face Each Other (vv. 1-7) The first cycle of confrontation-challenge-consternation is found in verse 1. There are three comments that are worth making associated with the confrontation in this passage. First, notice that neither side seems to be interested in fighting. The Israelites appear to want to fight a defensive battle. They want the Philistines to attack up the hillside. The Philistines, on the other hand, with their steel, bronze, and chariots (13:5) want to fight the battle on the level plain of the valley floor. Second, this stalemate enables the writer to introduce the “villain” of our story. Since neither side is eager to fight the battle on the other’s terms, Goliath (as the “champion” of the Philistines, not the commander or the king), takes this opportunity to approach the Israelites and propose a solution to the stalemate between the two armies. This is an easy challenge for Goliath to make. After all, this fellow is a giant! Third, I do not want you to miss the connection between this description of Goliath and the material in the preceding chapters. That is...

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