1 Samuel 16-17
(David and Goliath)
March 25th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Jesse had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking. The LORD said: There—anoint him, for this is the one!'

- 1 Samuel 16:12 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

Chapter 16 begins the final section of this book – a collection of stories that describe the intersection of the lives of Saul and David. One is on a downward trajectory and the other on an upward one. In these first two chapters we meet David and learn about his faith and his protective instincts.

In chapter 16, the LORD sent Samuel to quietly anoint a new king from the family of Jesse, from Bethlehem, to replace Saul. The LORD’s choice was an unpredictable one for those who judge by the human standards of outward appearances. At first, Samuel thought the eldest son would be the one, but the LORD corrected him:

    And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.

    But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

    - 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (KJV)

David was the smallest of the six sons of Jesse, not tall like Saul, but he was strong in faith in ways that only God could see. For example, God could foresee how David’s protective instincts for his father’s sheep would evolve into protective instincts for the people of Israel. According to the LORD’s plans, Saul selects David to play music for his troubled mind and is pleased with the young man.

In chapter 17, David demonstrated his faith and skill on a national stage by defeating the giant named Goliath, who was over nine feet tall and was a champion warrior.

    David said to the Philistine, “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 deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

    - 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)

David defeated the giant with a sling and a round stone from a nearby stream. This unexpected turn of events caused a panic among the Philistines, who were subsequently routed by the Israeli army.

Reflection and Application

The story of David and Goliath is another one of the well-known stories of the Bible that is deeply embedded in our culture and language. If you reference some person or a group of people as a “David going up against a Goliath,” then everyone will know exactly what you mean: A diminutive person or group of people going up against a much larger, stronger, and experienced foe.

Some of us remember a cartoon show from the 1960s that featured a young boy named Davey and his faithful canine named Goliath. In this case, Goliath was his friend, not his foe, but there was a Bible lesson that could be gleaned from each episode. Often times it was Davey’s parents that helped him see his experience within the context of the Bible. The show was sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and featured the Hymn “A Mighty Fortress” as its theme song.

You may have witnessed other cultural intersections with this story. When our children were in elementary school I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture book story of David and Goliath on the bookshelf of a first grade class room. It was not presented in Biblical terms, but the book was faithful to the original story and depicted the giant facing off against the young man. During that same general time period I was also pleasantly surprised, again, to see an episode of the TV series “Wishbone” that featured the story of David and Goliath. This was a children’s series in which a Jack Russell Terrier named “Wishbone” would fantasize about going back in time and playing the role of famous characters in history. It was a cute kids' show and it represented the story from a secular perspective with a reasonable amount of accuracy.

Why is this story so popular and others from the Bible are not? Have you ever seen a children’s book that retold the story of Ehud the leftie, Deborah the Judge, Phineas the priest, or Rahab of Jericho? One reason is that deep inside we all like to see the little guy win. How many times have you said you are “rooting for the underdog?” Given that we all have a familiarity with the story, what are the main lessons that we can take away?

One lesson is to not judge by external appearances, but instead recognize that God created everyone with special gifts. We may look at some people and have a hard time seeing their gifts or look at others and feel like they are over-gifted, but if we believe in God then we ought to trust that he has apportioned gifts in ways that make sense to him. We just need to be patient and observant and open-minded in order to realize that fact.

The other lesson is that no giant is too big for God. Everyone was afraid of Goliath, but David saw the situation through God’s eyes and could envision victory. In the mechanics of the story, it is the round stone from the stream that knocks out Goliath, but David had already acknowledged that it was the power of the LORD that would defeat Goliath. Note that the author of this book describes the significance of the presence of the Holy Spirit on the day that David was anointed:

    Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. Then Samuel set out for Ramah.

    The spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and he was tormented by an evil spirit from the LORD.

    - 1 Samuel 16:13-14 (NAB)

As with Samson and others, God had given this Spirit to Saul and David for the general good of the people. Saul had made a number of ill-advised decisions, so the Spirit was taken away, accelerating the decline of his leadership. Meanwhile, David was anointed in preparation for future use of the skills with which he had been equipped. We too can be equipped by the Holy Spirit when we pray for guidance from the Spirit and commit ourselves to aligning ourselves with God's will.

We have two You Tube videos today. The first is a Public Service Announcement by the Davey and Goliath characters who remind us about God's role during natural disasters. The second is an organ performance of "A Mighty Fortress."

"Working Together," Davey and Goliath

"A Mighty Fortress," performed by an organist in Freehold NJ

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was one of your favorite story books when you were a child?
    2. What examples can you think of in your life where you have under-estimated or over-estimated someone with respect to their skills and gifts?
    3. What is the Goliath that you are facing right now?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you see the hearts of men in ways we cannot. Please forgive us for misjudging your children and help us to see people through your eyes.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Musicians who use their skills for the Ministry

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Samuel 18-20 (David and Michal)

    Comments and Questions
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