The First Book of Samuel

Chapter 17

The armies of the Israelites and Philistines being ready to battle, 1-3, Goliath challenges a combat, 4-11. David, sent by his father to visit his brothers, takes the challenge, 12-27. Eliab chides him, 28, 29. He is brought to Saul, 30, 31; shows the reason of his confidence, 32-37; and slays the giant, 38-54. Saul takes notice of David, 55-58.

1 Now the Philistines collected their armies to battle and were assembled at Shochoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Shochoh and Azekah in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were assembled and encamped by the valley of Elah, and they set the battle in array against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, and there was a valley between them. 4 And there went out a champion from the camp of the Philistines named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 And he had a helmet of brass upon his head and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs and a javelin of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And someone bearing a shield went before him. 8 And he stood and cried to the armies of Israel and said to them, "Why have you come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine, and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If 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." 10 And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day. Give me a man so that we may fight together." 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Beth-lehem-judah, whose name was Jesse, who had eight sons and was an old man in the days of Saul and aged among men. 13 And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the first-born, next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 And David was the youngest. And the three eldest followed Saul, 15 But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Beth-lehem. 16 And the Philistine drew near morning and evening and presented himself forty days.

17 And Jesse said to David his son, "Now take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to your brothers. 18 And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand. See how your brothers fare and take their pledge." 19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah fighting with the Philistines.

20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper, and took and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the trench as the host was going forth to the fight and shouting for the battle. 21 And Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. 22 And David left his baggage in the hand of the keeper of the baggage, and ran into the army and came and saluted his brothers. 23 And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, from the armies of the Philistines, and spoke according to the same words. And David heard them.

24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were exceedingly afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely to defy Israel he has come. And it shall be, that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel."

26 And David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done to 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?" 27 And the people answered him after this manner, saying, "So it shall be done to the man who kills him."

28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David and he said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the wickedness of your heart. For you have come down so that you may see the battle." 29 And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?" 30 And he turned from him toward another and spoke after the same manner. And the people answered him again after the former manner.

31 And when the words were heard which David spoke, they rehearsed them before Saul. And he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." 33 And 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 is a man of war from his youth." 34 And David said to Saul, "Your servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear and took a lamb out of the flock. 35 And I went after him, smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, smote him, and slew him. 36 Your servant slew both the lion and the bear. And this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." 37 David said moreover, "The LORD who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you." 38 And Saul armed David with his armor and he put a helmet of brass upon his head. He also armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armor and he essayed to go, for he had not proved it. And David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them." And David took them off from him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, chose for himself five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a pouch. Then, with his sling in his hand, he drew near to the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine advanced and drew near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked around and saw David, he disdained him, for he was a youth, ruddy, and of a fair countenance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog that you come to me with staffs?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the 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." 45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand. And I will smite you and take your head from you. And I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands."

48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, took from there a stone, hurled it with his sling, and smote the Philistine in his forehead so that the stone sunk into his forehead and he fell upon his face to the earth.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone. He smote the Philistine and slew him, but there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore, David ran and stood upon the Philistine, took his sword, drew it out of its sheath, slew him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, shouted, and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and to Ekron. 53 And the children of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their tents. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

55 And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said to Abner the captain of the host, "Abner, whose son is this youth?" And Abner said, "As your soul lives, O king, I cannot tell." 56 And the king said, "Inquire whose son the young man is." 57 And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" And David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Beth-lehemite."


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Samuel, Chapter 17[➚]


[v.17-18] - These verses show some more of God's providence for David. Here, David is the only son left at home with Jesse, for the others are at the battle with Saul. Since David is the only one at home, and Jesse is quite aged, David is the only one able to take the goods to the battle.

[v.31] - Again, God's providence is at work in this verse. David's words are told to Saul and then Saul requests the presence of David. This is where David finds Saul's favor for a second time. It would be my understanding that Saul, as the king, is the only one with authority to call a man, that is David, and send him singly to fight Goliath.

[v.39] - "he had not proved it" - In other words, David had not tested, or practiced with, the armor Saul gave him. Essentially, the armor was not suitable for David. The fact that David sheds the armor shows his trust in God to protect him and deliver Goliath into his hands.

[v.50] - This verse tells of David's success in defeating Goliath. Even though this story is apparently about a single man defeating a giant in one-on-one combat, there is a more significant point to the story. David is a type and shadow of Christ. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to defeat the giant that is death through His resurrection, the conquering of death.