David and Goliath – Dispelling some myths.

We all have versions of the David and Goliath story in our heads. In our men’s group, we are reading Max Lucado’s book Overcoming your Giants. In the first chapter the author talks in odd descriptives about a young David, but the focus centers on how long we have been fighting our own giants. Max Lucado, at one point, details what some of those “giants” might be. Things, such as pornography, loss of income, whiskey, anger, drugs; you should be getting a general idea.

I, like several others in the group, found myself focusing on the physical aspects of the David story. For example, Max Lucado speaks of young David bending over the stream to collect throwing stones. He continued by saying, if the water had been calm he could have looked longingly at his youthful, handsome face. Instead, David quickly gathered five, smooth, flat stones for his belt bag. Max. Lucado embraced his ridiculous reasons for picking flat rocks. This idea of collecting flat stones was one of the places where I stopped and said, WHAT?, as I found myself thinking, this guy has never shot a slingshot because you want the smoothest and roundest stones you can get. There is a practical reason for this, as anything else will do strange things, like curving away from the target when you sling them. This factor alone would have meant death for David, as he might not get a second shot. I am also aware, from video shot in Israel, that the Palestinians still have people who can accurately launch larger stones from long, leather slings, which is what David used.

One of the men in the group asked the question, how big do you think David was? I immediately answered, 6 foot 4 inches. As you can imagine, that response got met with hostility and rebuttal. The person that asked the question, then said that is impossible since David, having had the armor placed on him, could not even pick himself up off the floor. Responses like this one about David, make me wonder where we get the garbage we are willing to spew out of our mouths as Biblical literacy. It also proves that the individual making the statement is unwilling to read the Bible for themselves. Sadly, all this unbridled talk was meant to educate and impress the fellow sitting next to me, a man who has only been a “Christian” for three weeks.

I have shared my understanding of David, the young man who killed a bear and a lion, and how and why I think that he was a tall, well built young man with a handful of people. But, because our traditions are so deeply ingrained, I am typically met with resistance. A friend of mine asked, where do you get this information. I will tell you, but you must know, it is not all in one place, and, you have to apply some logic and put flesh and blood on these Biblical people; after all, we are not reading fairy tales, now are we.

When we first meet Saul, the man that was to become the king Israel demanded, he was looking for the donkeys of his father, Kish. 1 Samuel 9:3-6

Saul, aware that there was a man of God living in Zuph, opted, along with his servant, to go this man for “all that he says surely comes true,” and they were going to ask him about the donkeys. That man was Samuel, the prophet. What they did not know, was that God had a plan, and had already been talking to Samuel about Saul.

1 Samuel 9:1-2 NASB Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice, and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

God, always has a plan, and these donkeys played a role.

1 Samuel 9:15-16 NASB Now a day before Saul’s coming, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel saying, 16) “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have regarded My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

So, now you understand, to some degree, how and why Saul was anointed the king of Israel. What I left off, because, at the moment it had nothing to do with Saul becoming king, is his overall appearance.

1 Samuel 9:1-2 NASB Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice, and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

The message translation tells us, “he literally stood head and shoulders above the crowd!” So, there you have it. You cannot merely assume that the tallest man in Israel was only three and a half feet tall. There had to be large men, like myself, who stood six foot four inches tall. Therefore the probability of King Saul being seven foot tall or taller is reasonable.

How tall was David? We are not given that information, so what do we know about David, the son of Jesse?

When we first meet David, Samuel has been sent to anoint another man king over Israel. While there was a time when Samuel could boldly speak into King Saul’s life, that time had passed. Saul was wallowing in a bipolar depression on a frequent basis and was no longer fit to be king. In Samuel 16 we see Samuel having a conversation about the task God has asked him to perform.

1 Samuel 16:1-13 NASB Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” 2) But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3) “You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”

Stop here for a minute. Samuel knows that he is a dead man if Saul finds out what he is about to do. His instructions so far are clear, but there is no indication, other than being a son of Jesse’s, who this young man is.

4) So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” 5) He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.”

I am interrupting here, to point something out. Note the reaction of the city elders, they came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” Assuming this is all you know about Samuel, what reason would they have to fear the God-man? However, they still remembered when Samuel hacked up king Agag, whom Saul, had taken captive, in direct opposition to God’s orders.

He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

Jesse, having been given instructions by Samuel off stage, brings in the older, mature sons to present before Samuel. Jesse, by-the-way, has no idea what is about to happen, he merely assumes that it will good for one of them. Samuel, may not know Jesse, nor how many sons Jesse has.

6) When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before Him.” 7) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 8) Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9) Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 10) Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.

Jesse brought them in, one at a time, from oldest to youngest, but he did not bring David. Why? Could I presumptuously say, it was because David was just a little boy, too young to serve, nor understand what would be asked of him? No, we don’t have enough information to make that kind of decision. What we should realize is that there was a birthright order to be followed, and the firstborn son always got the most significant and best share; at this point, Jesse is merely following Jewish guidelines. In Jesse’s mind, Samuel should have been done with the first son. Perhaps this gives you a little more insight into the hostility David received from his brothers when, under orders from his father, entered the battle zone.

10 cont.) But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11) And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.”

You still have nothing that tells you his size, or age. All we know is that he had been tending sheep.

11 cont.) Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12) So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance.

Let’s look at the words used to describe David:

  • Ruddy – Hebrew word ’aḏmôniy: An adjective meaning red, ruddy. At best, with this information, we can assume he was a redhead with freckles.

  • He had beautiful eyes: The Word Study Dictionary indicates that the Hebrew word yāp̱eh: Is “an adjective meaning lovely, beautiful. It is used in many settings to describe the beauty of various things and persons: of women (Gen_12:11, Gen_12:14; 2Sa_13:1; Est_2:7). It is used to indicate a healthy appearance (Gen_41:2). It may be used to mean good-looking, handsome of young men or adult males (2Sa_14:25).”

  • Or, he had a beautiful Countenance, as some translations state. The Hebrew word ‛ayin is the word for eyes. So his eyes played a role in his attractiveness.

  • And goodly to look at – The Hebrew word is ṭôb and means pleasant and agreeable to look at. Nothing here gives us a description that assigns age or stature. So, I nothing with which to determine an age yet.

Again, nothing that gives away his age. One more thing. We, love to speak of God holding no one accountable until the “age of maturity.” It’s not a bad standard, and it sure let’s many ten-year-old children off the hook for their role in gang murders. However, you will not find that concept in the Bible. It is purely a Jewish tradition. If I could apply it to God’s acceptance of David, then the young boy would have been older than twelve. Your problem when attempting to use that logic is that God is not the least bit concerned with the traditions of men. Besides that, if we are using only the word of God for our argument, you will find that God did not use this tradition to make His decision.

Let’s finish off the selection 1Samuel 16:1-13.

12 cont.)And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

After this, Samuel fled for his life; now, wherein these passages did you find the description of a child of 12? You didn’t, did you?

Our next piece of testimony, for the defense, also comes from 1Samuel.

1 Samuel 16:14-18 NASB Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. 15 Saul’s servants then said to him, “Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. 16 “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.”

What can I gather from this?

  • First, there is nothing to indicate how much time has passed since Samuel anointed David.

  • Secondly, Saul’s servants went out seeking a MAN who is skillful at playing the harp.

  • Thirdly, without looking, one servant volunteers some information about David, whom he has seen. So, we have eyewitness testimony.

  • Fourth, note how this man describes David: A mighty man of valor; a warrior; one prudent in speech; a handsome man, and, as a bonus, the Lord is with him.

At this recommendation, David is hired. What do we see next?

1 Samuel 16:19-23 NASB So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.” 20 Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat and sent them to Saul by David, his son. 21 Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

  • Verse 21 tells us that David came to Saul and attended him.

  • Saul loved him greatly

  • And, David became Saul’s armor-bearer.

Once again we have conclusive evidence that shows: David was not a little boy; that Saul knew David well, and that David was very acquainted with Saul’s armor.

The word familiar, as used in this context, would imply that David knew how much it weighed, how it went on, and what to look for as he concerned himself with damage. He not only carried it but polished it as well.

There can be little doubt that Saul knew full well who David was when he returned that day to fight Goliath. Considering how close Saul and David had become, and what his job was, causes me to have even more questions about his brother’s reactions to him. I cannot see what they said as anything less than jealousy. Some time passes, but we do not know what the length of time was.

We are now looking a 1Samuel 17 where we are introduced to Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:1-7 MSG The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them at Socoh in Judah, and set up camp between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. 2) Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. 3) The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them. 4) A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. 5) He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor–126 pounds of it! 6) He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. 7) His spear was like a fence rail–the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.

As you read through commentaries, you find statements such as no one in Israel wanted to commit suicide by facing this guy. Goliath, knowing full well the fear he imposed upon Israel and their now weak-kneed king, was devastating.

1 Samuel 17:9 NASB “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.”

Other translations use the word slave. It is not difficult to imagine the fate awaiting Israel. Israel, on the other hand, had standards for keeping slaves and servants, and abuse was not allowed. The word slave is the Hebrew word ebed. The Word Study Dictionary defines ‛ebed in this way:

A masculine noun meaning a servant, a slave. Although the most basic concept of this term is that of a slave, slavery in the Bible was not the same as the slavery of modern times. The period of slavery was limited to six years (Exo_21:2). Slaves had rights and protection under the Law (Exo_21:20). It was also possible for slaves to attain positions of power and honor (Gen_24:2; Gen_41:12).

There was nothing to indicate that the Philistines would abide by Israel’s standards.

Although the Philistines would come forward on a daily basis, shouting taunts, it seems the entire verbal exchange was between David and Goliath that day. However, there is this:

1 Samuel 17:16 NASB The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand.

I had wondered why Saul acted like he did not know David that day, when in reality Saul loved David, and as his armor-bearer saw David frequently. Scripture tells us that David went back and forth between his father’s sheep and Saul.

1 Samuel 17:15 NASB but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem.

David had returned that day at his father’s direction.

1 Samuel 17:17-20 NASB Then Jesse said to David his son, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. 18) “Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them. 19) “For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” 20) So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry.

I have never had a clear image of how and why David’s brothers had such a caustic interaction with him. Perhaps this verse explains that.

1 Samuel 17:22 NASB Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers.

He entered the battle zone. Since he is on a mission from dad, then, with his brothers gathered in one place, he may have been asking obvious and foolish questions.

1 Samuel 17:23 NASB As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them.

Suddenly everything changed.

1 Samuel 17:24-25 NASB When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25) The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that 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.

It is safe to assume that David heard what they said, but he had to ask once again, perhaps for verification.

1 Samuel 17:26-27 NASB Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will 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 taunt the armies of the living God?” 27) The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.”

David asked, “what will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?” I can perceive this two ways: 1. He is referring to one of the troops, or, 2. He includes himself among the men that day.

When we were going over chapter one in Max Lucado’s book, Facing Your Giants, the point was made that David said this phrase “the armies of the living God” or something similar, at least eight times. My take away, was that our focus in the midst of facing our giants is to give God and his power, the emphasis, instead of emphasizing the problem.

1 Samuel 17:31-33 NASB When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. 32) David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33) Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.”

There is a noticeable age difference, but there is nothing about this statement that turns David into a whining pre-teen. When the job came open to play the harp, they were looking for a man; they found David. When David was presented as the perfect candidate, he was pitched as a man, a mighty warrior, and a valiant man. What changed? The reality that all of Israel’s life was at stake here. If David loses, they all become slaves to the Philistines.

Since Saul now refers to him as a youth let’s see what the Hebrew word means.

nâ‛ûr The Word Study dictionary states: It refers to the early stages and years of a person’s life and the experiences and characteristics of that time: every person, all humankind experiences this time of life (Gen_8:21). It is a time when skills are best learned (Gen_46:34); a time of dependence on parents (Lev_22:13; Num_30:3 [4], Num_30:16 [17])

Therefore, considering David too immature is only a presumption on our parts. Why would I say that? Because the man giving the references for David says, tells us he is, “one prudent in speech.” Webster’s dictionary defines prudence in this manner:

Prudence implies caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity in discerning and selecting them. Prudence differs from wisdom in this, t

David and Goliath ( )

David and Goliath ( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hat prudence implies more caution and reserve than wisdom, or is exercised more in foreseeing and avoiding evil, than in devising and executing that which is good.”

Having fought off a bear and a lion, I would say that David was skillful at combat, but men are slightly different from animals, as they can carry spears and slings as well. So, David expounds upon his resume by giving Saul the details.

1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASB But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35) I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36) “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37) And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.”

At hearing this, Saul says, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” If there was an implication of David a small boy, putting Israel’s life into the hands of a giant, it just went out the window.

This entry was posted in 1 Samuel, bible study, David, David and Goliath, Dispelling myths, false teaching, Goliath, Hearing God, Hope, King Saul, Philistines, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to David and Goliath – Dispelling some myths.

  1. gaustin00 says:

    A great article and I learned quite a bit. Thanks for this …I think this is one of those I want to share on the Bible.org FB page. Thinking one day this week….Oz you are really improving!
    Gaye

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