1 Samuel 16:4 – 17:58 – Fighting giants and other battles!



1 Samuel 16v4 – 17v58.



As people we are so impressed by appearance – we are impressed by size, style, monetary value etc..

ILLUS.: Some time ago I was watching ‘TOP GEAR’ a TV programme about motor cars – they had three cars on show with all badges and names covered – people had to choose which one they preferred. The one that came out on top was revealed to be the new ‘Skoda’ at which point most of those who had choosen it said they would not buy it – WHY? because  driving a Skoda is not particularly stylist nor would it enhance one’s status to say “Well, I drive a Skoda!”

So it is with sport, intellect, music, money, class, career ….

Negatively we are fearful, sceptical, angry at a person or groups because of what we observe outwardly. We make judgements based on what we observe – the criterea being, appearance, ability, social class, financial status, job description.

So people have very negative / even fearful feelings towards Social Services, NHS, Church — sometimes irrartional but very real nevertheless!!

The Armies of Israel were gathered against the army of the Philistines – at the valley of Elah – what the saw and heard made them fearful. They only saw the external.

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known stories of all time.

It is a story the touches a cord in most hearts – we love to see the underdogs take on and beat the Goliaths of this world

ILLUS.: When a small trader is being pushed out by one of the Big Boys and  takes on the big Conglomerate and  wins — it warms my heart!

David took on Goliath and won!!!

Let us not run ahead of ourselves – Where has David been since he was anointed by Samuel the prophet to be the future king of Israel?

  • First off, David goes back to his sheep – gets on with his job awaiting God’s direction.
  • Meanwhile, Saul’s life is in ruins, the Spirit of God has left him in his role as king. As a result Saul has black moods – his servants suggest some music to help him feel better [16v16] – did no one mention that he needed to call on God for mercy and forgivenness for his sin!!
  • Someone knows about David’s musical skills and he is summoned to the palace – what better place to learn about ‘raoyal life’ than in a palace. God has a wonderfaul way of maniplulating our lives to get us the experience and and training we need to do his work.
  • So here we have “A king -(elect) – serving a KING” – After this time at the palace David returns to his sheep.

The period of David’s preparation in seclusion is about to end – In Ch. 17 with the Goliath incident David is thrust in to the public arena.



The Valley of Elah is not a narrow ravine but more like a wide canyon – about a mile wide – in some places even wider. In the moddle was a streambed where David gathered his 5 stones – on each side half-mile slopes where the opposing armies camped.

It was not uncommon for battles to be decided by representatives from each army facing each other in one-to-one combat. This was the Philistine challenge to Israel – they had a secret weapon named Goliath – the envy of any professional basketball team!!. Goliath’s armour and weaponry was comsiderable – he was a walking war machine.

His challenge was to any Israeli soldier to come and fight him.

You would have thought that that task would have fallen to king Saul – while not a giant – we do know that he stood head and shoulders above his fellow countrymen.

For 40 days Goliath had challenged army of Israel …

1 Samuel 17:8-11 & 16

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.


16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

The Valley of Elah was a couldron of fear and hate and arrogance – a leathal brew of emotion stirred up for nearly 6 weeks.

It is into this situation that David – the shepherd – is sent by his father who is anxious about his other sons fighting in Saul’s army. Rather not fighting but paralysed with fear!!

1. David sees the same facts but views them differently.

When David arrives at the army camp and hears and sees Goliath – he  sees exactly what everyone else sees. An arrogant giant, armed to the teeth, spoiling for a fight – fluanting his size and his strength and daring anyone to take him on – day in and day out.

That is what giants are like – fear / worry for example!! they come day after day / morning and evening – relentless, intimidating. They come in the form of a person / a pressure / a worry  hammering away at us – yelling across our personal valley. They are usually bullies!!

Goliath was a bully – intimidating, arrogant, full of himself. He dominated the scene – 9”9’ tall twirling his 25lb spear like a matchstick – provoking, taunting, teasing — he dominated centre stage.

David enters the scene – sees the same outward circumstances but he has been given the ability to see as God sees and he is neither impressed nor intimidated. No matter how big the giant, God is greater. No matter how strong the giant, God is all-powerful.

David saw the facts that everyone else saw but he viewed them differently!

His brothers, Saul and the army thought Goliath could not possibly lose. David thought Goliath could not possibly win.

The people and Saul react with fear.

David reacts with indignation … 1 Samuel 17:26

26 David asked …………. Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (NIV)

In the hills of Bethlehem, looking after sheep, David had learnt something about God – about the greatness of God and closeness of fellowship with God – we see it in the psalms. He has experienced the strength of God in protecting the sheep from lions and bears. His praying, singing, meditation, adoration had so shaped his understanding that God was more real to him than the sheep or the lion or the bear.

How real is God to you and me? When we face ‘goliaths’ in our lives – are we intimidated and paralysed by fear OR can we look to Jesus and say with the apostle Paul .. Philippians 4:13 13 I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength.

David’s heart was so God- dominated that he could not believe what he saw when he arrived at the Israelites army base – ‘goliath-fear, goliath-phobia’ – it was an epidemic!!

BUT David’s God-inspired response is Who is this uncircumcised Philistine.

2. David faces hostility from within the camp.

The saying “With friends like that who needs enemies!”  certainly was applicable to David that day.

His brother, Eliab, was not very encouraging to put it mildly. David has just brought his brothers gifts BUT they treated him with utter contempt – He receives most discouragement from within his own family.

Listen… 1 Samuel 17:28

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked,  –

  • questions his purpose for coming  “Why have you come down here? —  —
  • questions his sense of responsibility And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? —
  • questions his character I know how conceited you are —-
  • questions his inner motives and how wicked your heart is; —–
  • questions his intention to fight Goliath you came down only to watch the battle.” (NIV)

It is easy to see why Eliab was not anointed as future king!!

Like all coward he likes to have a joke at someone else’s expense – he doesn’t have the courage to face Goliath himself but he is quick to point an accusing finger. It is often the case that those quick to point to other’s sins are really not willing to face up to their own.

David could have reacted to this slanderous attack BUT all he does is protest and then walk away!!

1 Samuel 17:29-30

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. (NIV)

He doesn’t retaliate nor allow the criticism to get to him – to distract his purpose!

3. David uses Spiritual logic rather than human, logic.


In the providence of God David’s inquiries get to the ears of the King and he is summoned – Saul doen’t recognise the boy who played the harp in the palace. Maybe David has added a few years and grown a beard since they last met.

BUT David is still young and inexperienced in battle.

Saul is understandably sceptical that this young, inexperienced youth could take on an beat Goliath – I mean crazy, isn’t it!!

1 Samuel 17:32-33

32 David said to Saul, “Let no-one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” (NIV)

By the standards of human logic Saul is absolutely right. You are just a kid – still wet behind the ears.

David uses spiritual logic to comvince Saul … 1 Samuel 17:37 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” (NIV)

David has know God’s help before – his logic is based on his knowledge of God.

He remembers the victories of the past — we are so prone to forget what God has done before and we tend to relive our failures.

BUT David, based on his knowledge of God, has assurance of faith.

2 Corinthians 1:10 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, (NIV)

4. David starts in faith and continues in Faith.

Saul doesn’t have too many options so he agrees to allow David to fight Goliath BUT with some advise from him.

Isn’t ir amazing how often the one’s not willing to do the job are the ones who have the most advice to give.

ILLUS. Listen to a bunch of men watching a football/rugby match – they all know how the game should be played.

Wear my armour!” says Saul.

What a joke – Saul is a 52 long and David is a 36 regular.

He must have looked a sight – like a tortoise with an oversized shell!!

It was not easy for David to refuse Saul’s help – to walk away – BUT to have worn Saul’s armour would have been a disaster.

Wearing borrowed armour always is.

So David goes to face Goliath – dressed as a shepherd with a sling and 5 stones!!

1 Samuel 17:40 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. (NIV)

5. David’s battle is between worldly confidence and godly faith.

Goliath must have thought this was a real joke – he was going to feed this little shrimp to the birds. He is so cocky – confidence in his own ability.

This is so typical of worldly wisdom – we have all the answers – we can fight our own battle – who needs God and all the religious stuff.

We as God’s people are often faced with this arrogant, self-confident world. We get intimadated, our knees knock, we focus on the odds against us and we forget to pray.

I wonder what God must think when he has said, “My power is available. There is no one on earth greater. You trust me!.”

David is not self-confident or trying to impress – Saul or Israel or even God.

Goliath relishes victory  BUT David relishes the name of His God been better known throughout the world.

David also knows that the battle is not his but God’s … 1 Samuel 17:47 47 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.” (NIV)

This is also a battle between God’s chosen people and those who oppose that God of Israel. That Day in the Valley of Elah there were the arrogant, bullying people of Philistia and the demoralised and anxious people of Israel. On the one side there was a powerful but stupid giant and on the other an anointed but deeply flawed and frighten king.

No one dreamed the the shepherd picking up stones in the streambed was going to do the most significant work of the day!! David calm and confident in his! God.

Suddenly the giant is dead – the Philistines are routed! God has executed a victoy at the hands of a man whose faith and hope of salvation was in God alone!

The only one who really had a grip on the situation that day was David – everyone else was focusing on the giant – their horizons were filled with Goliath – David’s focus was on God – Goliath was not centred stage for David.


3000 years after David — 2000 years after Jesus Died and arose again!!

David prefigures Jesus – David had a heart for God but he had feet of clay – as we will see later. BUT Jesus was the man who truly and completely and perfectly had a heart for God.

He, far more than David, is our conquering hero – he slew the giants of sin / death / hell — as the Israelites rallied to faith because of the faith of David so we are called to live by faith in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

He calls us to be ‘kings’ in Christ – dealing with the goliaths of life by faith because we know our God and can see the challenges and problem of life with the eye of faith.

I don’t know what intimidating gaint you are facing today.

Maybe it relates to your school / job / college ….

Maybe it is a person / unemployment / a difficult marriage / an illness / lonliness / the prospect of singleness / …

Maybe it is some fear lurking deep in your heart, sapping your energy, draining your faith.

God is saying to you right now “All I ask of you is 5 stones and a sling of faith” — “I’ll accomplish the victory – you don’t have to wear someone else’s armour – or be concerned with jealous criticism – I’ll get you through and I’ll get the glory – YOU JUST TRUST ME!!

Maybe you don’t know what lies across the valley. You don’t know waht the gaint is – but you are plagued with uncertainty. That is a giant in itself!!

Whatever the giant maybe – compare it to God himself and say in faith “The battle is yours, Lord! I give myself to you! I’ll trust you!”

So often we want God to kill the giant before we will trust HIM!  BUT if we want to be like David, with a heart for God, we must learn to trust. Goliath wasn’t the first challenge David faced in his life and he wasn’t the last.

Sometimes God allows us to face giant to strip us of our self-confidence and arrogance and to bring us to a place where we will trust him. Not him plus … !

He wants us to come to him with all our fears, problems, worries, even our confusion.

Remember that “The Battle is the Lord’s!” and Jesus has already won the victory!!



1 Samuel 17:1 – 58.


 1. David sees the same facts but views them differently.  [v 4 – 26]

 2. David faces hostility from within the camp.  [v 28 – 30]

 3. David uses spiritual logic rather than human logic. [ 31 – 37]

 4. David starts in faith and continues in faith. [v 38 – 40]

5. David’s battle is between worldly confidence and godly faith. [v 41 – 51]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s