David & Goliath

Reading: I Samuel 17 v 17-23

"This day I defy the ranks of Israel. Give me a man and let us fight each other."

This was Goliath's mighty challenge which rang out across the valley until the Israelites shivered with the horror of it. This was not the first time that the Philistine giant had flung his challenge to the Israelite army: he had been repeating it morning and again in the evening for the last forty days! Would anyone accept the giant's challenge? Would anyone fight him and so avoid the full-scale battle with the Philistines? Whatever was wrong with Saul? He was head and shoulders above the rest of the people, the tallest man in the camp, their leader and king. Why did he not accept the challenge? But Saul stayed miserably in his tent, just as much afraid as any of his men.

When David arrived at the camp he was just in time to hear Goliath's challenge as he hurried to his brothers to see how they were and to get news from them. He did look strange among the soldiers, in his shepherd's clothes. David was very interested in Goliath and asked what was going on, but when he realised how these Philistines were mocking God and that no one was prepared to do anything to stop them, he was ashamed of his fellow Israelites.

David was prepared to fight this Philistine and so he was taken to Saul:
"Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine: your servant will go out and fight him."

This is what David said to Saul, offering himself as the Israelite champion. Have you ever thought how Saul must have felt as he tried to put his armour onto David? He must have felt rather guilty and ashamed of himself. He did not have the courage or faith to use the armour himself and go and fight Goliath. But the armour was useless to David - it was far too big and uncomfortable. He preferred the feel of his shepherds clothes. Besides, they were all he needed if God was with him, and David knew that God would be with him now, just as He had been when he had defended his flock of sheep: read chapter 17 v 34-37.

So David set off to meet Goliath, with his shepherd's staff in his hand, his sling and five smooth stones in his bag. He looked across at Goliath: there stood a huge man, about 3 metres tall: his body was almost completely covered with brass armour: he carried a huge spear, like a beam of wood with an iron spearhead which weighed 7 kg, and a javelin was slung over his back. Also, Goliath had an armour bearer standing infront of him carrying a shield. But when Goliath looked at David he saw a young man in shepherd's clothing and carrying only a shepherd's weapons.

Goliath sneered at David and said, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks? Come here and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"

But David replies with great confidence and assurance and we can learn a great lesson from his words:
"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head."

Then David moved quickly; he ran forward taking a pebble from his bag as he ran, loaded his sling and let the stone fly towards Goliath. It hit him on the only unprotected part of his body, his forehead, and he fell to the ground. Quickly, David ran up to Goliath and taking Goliath's sword, cut off his head. Seeing their champion killed, the rest of the Philistines turned and fled, closely followed by the Israelite army.


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