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    [1 Samuel:17:1-58].

    Lesson No.: 
    Memory Verse: 

    "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts" (I Samuel 17:45).


    At War with the Philistines
    The Children of Israel had gone to battle against the Philistines, the same old foe. "And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul" (I Samuel:14:52). In the fourteenth chapter of I Samuel, we read that time after time the Children of Israel had chased and smitten some of the Philistines.

    Never did the Israelites completely rout the enemy as Gideon did the Midianites ( Lesson 194 ). Gideon pursued them even to the other side of Jordan, smote them, and took their two kings, and discomfited all the host. ‚ÄĚThus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon" (Judges:8:28).

    The Children of Israel did not totally rout the Philistines. The Israelites, led by Saul and his son Jonathan, fought back and forth with them. The time came when the Children of Israel were arrayed in battle on one side of the valley with the Philistines encamped on the other side. From out the camp of the Philistines went forth their champion, Goliath of Gath. The Philistines put all their trust in this one man. They were willing to put the battle to a single combat. Scarcely any nation would be willing to venture its all on the success of one man, but the Philistines had such confidence in Goliath that they were willing to put the battle entirely on a duel with their champion.

    Goliath was a giant, three times as tall as some of you children. A boy standing on the shoulders of a man would not be even as tall as was Goliath. This man of monstrous stature must have appeared terrible, especially if he had strength and spirit in proportion to his size. From his youth, Goliath had been trained to be a soldier. He was well furnished with an armour of brass so heavy that some men could scarcely carry it, let alone fight while wearing it. Goliath carried a spear like a weaver's beam, the head of which weighed 600 shekels of iron. Besides all this, he had a man go before him, bearing a shield.

    A Challenge
    In front of the armies of the Philistines stood Goliath to challenge the Children of Israel. No doubt, in a big voice he defied the army of the Lord. In a boastful manner he probably reminded them that they had none so great as he. Goliath ridiculed them even to go to battle against the Philistines. He probably bragged that they had no man bold enough to fight with him. In a proud way Goliath cried, "Give me a man, that we may fight together."

    The Dismay of Israel
    For forty days, morning and night, Goliath insulted the Children of Israel in this manner. No doubt, each day the champion grew bolder and more proud, while the Children of Israel grew fainthearted and more timid. Perhaps the people were dismayed because the courage of Saul, their king, had failed. In times past, Saul had been no coward. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul ([1 Samuel:11:6]), he accepted the challenge of Nahash the Ammonite, and led the Israelites to victory. The Ammonites were slain and scattered so that no two remained together ([1 Samuel:11:11]).

    Why was Saul now afraid of the big words and the big looks of one single Philistine? Because Saul was disobedient. He had rejected God, and the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him ([1 Samuel:16:14]). Saul and the soldiers of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid. Was there none to fight this defier?

    David's Choice
    God had a young man prepared for this very occasion. A number of miles away from the battlefield in the valley of Elah, was the youngest brother of three of the Israelite soldiers. He had been an armour bearer for Saul, and had played a harp for the king. No doubt, he could have stayed with the king but David "returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep." Rather than live a life of ease, luxury, and idleness, he chose a life with toil, care, and peril. He was a shepherd of his father's flock.

    Perhaps David chose that work because it gave him time and opportunity for prayer and meditation before God. Certainly, David's work as a shepherd fitted him for battle and gave him a confidence in God that he would not have experienced by staying in the king's palace.

    David's Mission
    One day Jesse sent his son, David, on an errand. It was a mission on which, seemingly a servant could have gone -- that of taking supplies to the soldier sons of the family. Just like all parents whose children are away from home, Jesse was concerned about the welfare of his sons -- how they were getting along and if they had enough to eat. In thoughtfulness of his sons, Jesse told David to take parched corn and ten loaves to his brothers, and ten "cheeses" to their captain.

    David made arrangements to have someone care for the sheep, for he was diligent in business and "faithful over a few things." He arose early in the morning and did as his father had commanded him.

    At the Scene of Battle
    When David arrived at the battlefield, the armies were arrayed against each other. David found his brothers; and as he talked with them, out came Goliath whose booming voice called out the words of challenge. David heard the words and he was affected differently from the rest of the Israelites. Instead of fleeing and being sore afraid, David asked, "Who is this... Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

    Because David was willing to uphold the honour of God and Israel, the jealousy and envy of his eldest brother were kindled against him. Eliab belittled David's work as a shepherd. He falsely accused David of going to "see the battle," when David had really gone in the interest of his brothers.

    A Cause
    Saul had promised wealth and honour to the one who killed Goliath. It was also promised that his father's house would be free in Israel -- no doubt free from toll, tribute, custom, and service to the king. David seemed to take little interest in the reward. He said, "Is there not a cause?" David was willing to go to battle, not for reward and praise of men but for the cause of the living God. David felt that Goliath's defiance was against God as well as against the Children of Israel.

    God, today, will use the boy or girl, or anyone else, who will stand for the right against all opposition. By one's words and actions he can take away the reproach from the Gospel. One who has the cause of Christ at heart will not be discouraged by abusive language, nor by opposition from his family, those who would be expected to give him support and assistance.

    David's Testimony and Faith
    David went to Saul, the king, for permission to go against Goliath. He did not mention the reward; he wanted only to serve his God and country. Saul told him that he was just a youth and Goliath was a trained man of war. David quieted Saul's fears with words of faith, and gave a reason for his hope and courage. Even though David was a youth, he was not so inexperienced as Saul thought. David was not ashamed to tell that he kept his father's sheep. He did not boast in his own strength, but he gave glory and credit to God as he told of his boldness in the defence of his flock -- the lambs were rescued and the beasts of prey were slain. When David told of his experiences, he expressed his faith that God would also deliver him from the hand of Goliath. No doubt, through these experiences David had learned to trust God more fully, and to walk boldly in the way of duty.

    A Proved Protection
    Saul gave his consent for David to fight against Goliath. Although Saul himself did not go to battle, his words, "The LORD be with thee," were his prayer for David.
    Saul tried to put his own armour on David. Remember that Saul was a tall man -- head and shoulders above the men of Israel -- and David was a youth. Armour that was Saul's would be only a hindrance to David.

    There was nothing wrong with Saul's armour; it was very good for Saul, but it did not fit David. There may be times when a Christian is advised by the unsaved to depend on a natural defence or the things of the world, neither of which can fit a Christian. God wants His people to trust Him, the only defence, which is fitting to a Christian. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm:1:1).

    God does have a preparation and an armour for the soldier of the Cross. It is one into which every Christian can fit. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.... Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians:6:10 17).

    David said, of Saul's armour, "I cannot go with these; for I have proved them." He had proved God. He put off the armour of Saul, and kept his faith in God. David ran to the brook, took out five smooth stones; and with his shepherd's sling went out to meet Goliath.

    For God's Glory
    It is true that five smooth stones and a sling are very simple weapons, but when small things are placed in God's control, He can use them in mighty ways. David used the things that he had at hand. It did not take him a long time to prepare for the battle.

    This selected poem tells that God has used small things that were at hand, when they were consecrated to the Lord.
    "Shammer had an oxgoad,
    David had a sling,
    Samson had a jawbone,
    Rahab had a string,
    Mary had some ointment,
    Aaron had a rod,
    Dorcas had a needle,
    All were used for God."

    Goliath looked with scorn upon the youth who had accepted his challenge. He cursed David by his gods, as if threatening words could kill. Goliath boasted and was self confident.

    David was not seeking his own honour. He devoted his praise and glory to God, that all the world would know that there was a God in Israel, and that all Israel would know that God does not save with a sword and spear. David went to battle in the name of the Lord. "For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me" (Psalm:44:6).

    Directed by God
    Goliath, with armour clanking, arose proudly as if to make a fine impression. David advanced, no doubt lightly clad, and fearless, to meet the foe. Very deliberately he put one stone in the sling, drew back, and "slang" it with all his strength and with a prayer in his heart. God directed that stone, and it lodged in Goliath's forehead, the only spot that was unprotected. Almost before the armies of the Israelites and Philistines realised that the fight was on, Goliath fell to the ground. David ran to him. He had no sword of his own; but with Goliath's sword -- probably so big that David had to use both hands -- he cut off the head of Goliath, the champion of the Philistines and the defier of Israel.

    David had used only one of the five stones with which he had armed himself. It is doubtful if David expected to use all five of them. No doubt he wanted a little reserve -- like the grace and power of God that is available to every Christian -- not just barely enough for the battle or test. God has a never ending supply of grace and power for those who will seek Him.

    Thus, because one youth dared to stand for that which was right, God received honour, the enemy was destroyed, the Children of Israel were encouraged, and David was regarded by the king.


    1. Why was David taking care of his father's sheep?
    2. How did David happen to be on the battlefield?
    3. How did Goliath defy the armies of the living God?
    4. Why did David want to accept Goliath's challenge?
    5. What opposition did David have?
    6. Describe Goliath.
    7. What protection did David have when he fought against Goliath?
    8. What were his weapons?
    9. Why did David refuse Saul's armour?
    10. Who was the victor?