Saul was still king of Israel, as David’s anointing by Samuel was mostly a symbolic act between God and David. However, in God’s eyes, it was a done deal and was only a matter of time before David would become king over Israel officially.
The Philistines were still Israel’s greatest enemy during this time. In about 1020 BC, the armies of Israel and Philistine gathered together to do battle in Judah. An army sometimes avoided great losses and bloodshed by pitting its strongest warrior against the strongest warrior of the enemy. The winner of the fight was considered the winner of the battle. The nation that lost the battle would forfeit the contested land and become slaves to the victor nation.
“And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had a helmet of bronze upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor upon his legs, and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
“And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are you come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and you servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then we will be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:4-11).
“And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that 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?” And the people answered him, that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:25).
“And when the words were heard which David spoke, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, You are not able to against this Philistine to fight with him: for you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
And David said unto Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 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. David said moreover, the Lord that 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 unto David, Go, and the Lord be with you” (1 Samuel 17:31-37).
David, the young shepherd boy, was the only one brave enough to fight the gigantic giant. Saul offered David his armor and sword, but David refused them for he was not trained to fight in that manner. As with the lion and bear, David chose only to use his sling as his weapon of choice. He picked up five smooth stones and put them in his pouch and met the giant on the battlefield.
“And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give your flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.
“Then David said to the Philistine: You come to me with a sword, and 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. This day the Lord will deliver you into mine 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 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. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17: 43-47).
As they met on the battlefield, David took a stone out of his pouch and placed it in his sling and slung it. The stone hit the giant in the forehead and he fell upon his face to the ground. David ran and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword and killed him; and cut off his head. When the Philistine warriors saw their champion was dead, they fled; and the men of Israel and Judah arose and pursued the Philistines and killed the host of them.
The outcome of the fight and subsequent battle was exactly as David had foretold to Goliath and the army of the Philistines. The battle belonged to the Lord! God had used a mere boy to defeat a 10′ giant (with armor and sword) and win the battle for his people.
The Bible doesn’t mention it, but I believe “the spirit of the Lord” must have come upon David in a powerful way, giving him almost supernatural strength and precision. At that point, it was not Goliath against David; it was more like Goliath against God. God forcefully guided the stone into the only unprotected part of Goliath’s body, his forehead. Goliath never knew what hit him.
Why did God use a young unheralded shepherd boy to defeat the giant and save Israel instead of a mighty warrior like Samson? If the battle had occurred approximately 35 years earlier, Samson would have represented Israel as their champion. He would have been the one to fight Goliath. Can you imagine mighty Samson and the giant Goliath in a fight to the death?
Samson armed with the jawbone of an ass fighting against Goliath with his sword and armor! What a fight that could have been… but never was. The Bible story of Samson versus Goliath never happened. God had something much better in mind for his people to witness.
If they had fought, I believe God would have given the victory to Samson, even though he didn’t always give God the glory for his strength and success. God wanted Israel to win and to rid the idol-worshipping Philistines from the land. He always accomplishes his objectives by whomever and whatever means He chooses.
He will use the weak as well as the strong; the young as well as the old. He especially likes to work with those who have a humble and contrite spirit. One thing is certain… he will always use those that have faith and put their trust in Him.
After Saul sinned greatly against the Lord, Samuel conveyed this message of the Lord to Saul: “And Samuel said to Saul, but now your kingdom shall not continue: the Lord has sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be captain over his people, because you have not kept that which the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
David was a man after God’s own heart. He constantly thought about God and put all of his faith in Him. David loved the Lord with all of his heart, and for this God abundantly rewarded and protected him. As long as David sought the Lord, he was successful.
God chose David to be his representative/champion to fight against a pagan evil people and their champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, for possession of the Promised Land. He deliberately chose a young shepherd boy with no military training to fight against the great Philistine hero.
There was no great warrior/judge like Samson left in Israel who had the courage to go up against such odds…. not even Saul, their king. There was, however, a young shepherd boy named David, who did have the necessary courage to respond to the giant’s challenge.
David had honed his skill with a sling and stone to protect his father’s sheep from animal predators. Although becoming quite proficient with this primitive weapon, he ultimately relied on God to make sure his aim was perfect. He always had the faith that God would deliver him from death, and God always did.
By sending a boy to do a man’s job, God made sure the Israelites realized where the victory was truly coming from. The victory was the Lord’s and the Lord’s only… not some great renowned Israelite warrior (although David did become one later). These are the words of David, moments before he met Goliath on the battlefield: “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47).
Armed with this kind of faith, David couldn’t lose. Goliath never had a chance against God’s young man. David was a man after God’s own heart. No other person in the Bible is given this description or attribute, not even Noah, Abraham, Moses, or Joseph.
David wasn’t perfect by any means, as later in life he would commit horrific sins. Once he forgot the Lord and relied on his own power, he committed serious crimes for which God punished him and thus his family and Israel. David realized his sins and begged God for mercy and forgiveness. Not only was David a great warrior, but he was also a great prayer warrior. Psalm 51 is a plea for mercy, forgiveness, and cleansing that David prayed to God.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving kindness: according unto the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me, thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit” (Psalm 51:1-4).
God forgave David, as He does for every believer who sincerely asks for it. Sin committed will always have consequences. You will reap what you sow, but God will forgive you no matter how great your sins are.
God sent David to deliver Israel from a life of slavery to the evil Philistines. However, He sent one much greater than David, namely Jesus, to deliver us from our sins and a life of slavery to them. Believe in Him as your Lord and Savior, and become a man/woman after God’s own heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to take control of your life and live victoriously, even into eternity.
“For you see your calling, brothers, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen; yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.
“But of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption: that, according as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).