by Linda Claassen Mitchell
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 1
When faced with a giant…
1 Samuel 17:1-11 (IEB): “The Philistines gathered their armies for a battle (this happened about 27 years after their defeat at Michmash) (1 Samuel 13-14). They met at Socoh (about 15 miles west of Bethlehem) in the territory of Judah. Their camp was at Ephes-Dammim (about 4 miles northeast of Socoh) between Socoh and Azekah.
Saul and the Israelites gathered in the Valley of Elah (between Socoh and Azekah, along the Es-Sunt Wadi) and they camped there. They drew up their battle-lines to fight the Philistines. Now the Philistines stood on one hill. The Israelites stood on the other hill. The valley was between the two armies.
There was a champion (literally, “the man of the interspaces – the between”, that is, the man who fought between the battle-lines; what we call “no man’s land”.) named Goliath who appeared between them. He came out of the Philistine camp. He was from Gath. And he was 9 feet 6 inches tall. He had a brass helmet on his head. And, he wore a coat of scale-armor. It was also made of bronze, and it weighed 125 pounds. He wore brass shin-guards on his legs. And, he had a small bronze javelin across his shoulders. The shaft of his big spear was made of wood. It was like a weaver’s pole. The iron point of it weighed 17 pounds. A man who carried his shield walked ahead of him.
Goliath stood there and shouted to the soldiers of Israel, ‘Why have you taken positions for battle!? I am a Philistine, and you are servants of Saul! Choose just one man and send him down to fight me! If he can fight me and kill me, we will become your slaves. But if I defeat him and kill him, then you will become our slaves and serve us!’ Then the Philistine giant said, ‘Today I dare you, O army of Israel! Give me one man, and let’s fight it out!’
When Saul and all the Israelites heard the words of this Philistine, they were terrified and demoralized.”
As I leave my study today I can relate! We are all faced with our own “Giants” whether it is a health issue, financial struggles, or difficulties in relationships. The world would strip me of confidence, but God’s word ALWAYS encourages me. I may not have the strength on my own, but with God’s help I can do anything He wants me to do.
Philippians 4:13 (IEB): “I can do anything – by the one who gives me the power.”
Job 42:2 (IEB): “I know that You can do anything! No purpose of Yours can be defeated.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (IEB): “Give praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father of tender feelings, the God of all encouragement. He encourages us when we have any kind of trouble…”
My prayer today is that I will place my confidence in God, and not allow the problems of this world to overwhelm me.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 2
David hears the taunts of Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:14-27 (IEB): “David was the youngest son of all of Jesse’s sons. (Only the three oldest sons were in Saul’s army.) But David used to go back and forth from King Saul to Bethlehem. There David took care of his father’s flock.
The Philistine, Goliath, came forward every morning and evening. He presented himself to the Israelite army over and over. This pattern continued for 40 days.
Now Jesse told his son David, ‘Take this half-bushel of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your three brothers at the camp. Also, take these ten pieces of cheese. Give them to their commander. See how your brothers are doing. (It had been at least 40 days since Jesse knew anything about his three sons.) Are they OK? Bring back something to show me that they are all right. Your brothers are with Saul and all the Israelite army in the Valley of Elah. They are fighting against the Philistines.’
So early in the morning, David left the flock with another shepherd. And David took the food and left, just as Jesse had told him. When David arrived at the barricade, the army was leaving. They were going out to their battle positions. The soldiers were shouting their war-cry. The Israelites and the Philistines were lining up their men to face each other in battle.
So, David left the food with the man who kept the supplies. Then he ran to the battle-line. He asked his brothers if they were O.K. But, while David was talking to them, look, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out of the Philistine lines. He shouted things against Israel, as he usually did. However, this time, David heard it.
When all the Israelites saw Goliath, they were very much afraid, and they ran away from him. The Israelites said, ‘Have you seen this man, Goliath? He keeps coming out to taunt Israel. The king will give a lot of money to the man who kills Goliath. He will also give his daughter in marriage to the one who kills him. And, his father’s family will be exempt (tax-free) in Israel.’
Then David asked the men who were standing with him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away this shame from Israel? Who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is!? Does he think he can taunt the armies of the living God!?’ These soldiers repeated the same thing to David. They said, ‘That is what will be done for the man who kills Goliath’.”
As I leave my study today I can’t help noticing the difference in David’s reaction to Goliath’s challenge to that of Saul’s army. For 40 days Saul’s army have been listening to the taunts and insults of Goliath, and they are afraid and intimidated. They have not had the courage to do anything about it in spite of the reward that Saul offers. Saul may be the king but he does not have the power of the real King, the Lord God Almighty, behind him. His army knows they can’t win.
David loves God and God is with him. David is not afraid; he is outraged that Goliath would dare to speak so disrespectfully (and intends to do something about it!) He is confident because God is with him. It’s a lesson I need to remember.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 3
David steps up to the challenge.
David has heard Goliath’s insults to the people of Israel and its army. Saul’s soldiers have told David of Saul’s incentive to any who will step up and fight Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:28-39 (IEB): “David’s oldest brother, Eliab, overheard David talking with those men. He became angry with David. He asked David, ‘Why did you come down here? Who is taking care of those few sheep in the desert? I know you are arrogant. Your attitude is very bad. You have come down here just to be a spectator – to watch the battle!’
But David asked, ‘Now what have I done wrong!? Can’t I even ask a question?’ Then David turned toward the others and asked them the same sort of questions. And they gave him the same answer as before. (Some men overheard what David was saying, and they informed Saul. Then Saul welcomed him.)
And David said to Saul, ‘Do not let anyone be discouraged. I will go and fight this Philistine!’ Saul answered David, ‘You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him. You are only a boy! Goliath has been a warrior since he was a young man!’
But David said to Saul, I (your servant) have been shepherding my father’s flock. Whenever a lion or a bear came around and snatched a lamb from the flock, I chased it. I attacked it and rescued the lamb from its mouth! And whenever a lion turned on me, I would seize it by its throat, and I would hit it and kill it. I have killed lions and bears! This uncircumcised Philistine will become like the ones I killed! Goliath has taunted the armies of the living God! David continued, ‘Yahweh has saved me from both lions and bears. God will also deliver me from this Philistine!’
Then Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may Yahweh be with you!’
After this, King Saul put his own battle-gear on David. He put a brass helmet on David’s head and outfitted him with body-armor. David also strapped on Saul’s sword. Then David tried to walk around, but he was not comfortable with all the equipment which Saul had put on him. He said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with this stuff! I’m not used to it.’ Then David took off the helmet and the armor.”
As I leave my study, there are three things I’m thinking about: the reaction of David’s oldest brother to David’s presence at the battle-line, the lack of response from Saul’s army to Goliath’s taunts, and David’s refusal to use Saul’s armor.
Eliab was angry at David for being at the battle-line where he didn’t belong and thought him arrogant for questioning the soldiers. This was his little brother who couldn’t possibly be there to fight! I’m sure that Eliab was also a little embarrassed that he and the rest of the army had been there for 40 days hearing Goliaths taunts and had not had the courage to do anything about it. David was wise to discard all of Saul’s armor. It was a statement of his trust that God would protect him and that God would provide the victory.
It’s a reminder to me that as long as I am doing God’s will, He will be with me. I don’t need to be afraid or feel intimidated.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 4
The Battle Belongs to the Lord:
1 Samuel 17:40-43 (IEB): “David took his own rod in his hand. And he chose five smooth stones from a stream. He put them in his special shepherd’s bag, and his sling was in his hand. Then he went closer to meet the Philistine champion.
And the Philistine was coming closer to David too. The man who was carrying the shield walked in front of Goliath. The Philistine giant looked at David. When he saw that David was just a boy – tanned and handsome – he looked down on David with disgust. He said to David, ‘Do you think I am a dog, (b) that you come at me with sticks!?’ Using the names of his gods, Goliath cursed David.”
Following the footnotes: (b) Goliath thought that David was not worthy of a champion’s efforts, skills, and experience. In other words, Goliath did not want to sink below his dignity as a professional soldier. Concerning “dog”, see 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 3:8; 9-8; 16:9. The word “dog” in the Middle East meant “insignificant”.
1 Samuel 24:14 (IEB): David says to Saul “Against whom are you, the king of Israel, coming out? Who are you chasing? A dead dog!? One flea!? I am harmless!”
Note: In the Middle East, dogs around villages were wild. They were not pets. People held much contempt for dogs.
1 Samuel 17:44-51 (IEB): “The Philistine said to David, ‘Come here, boy! I will feed your body to the birds of the air and to the wild animals!’
But David said to him, ‘You come to me with a sword, and a javelin, and a big spear, but I come to you in the Name of Yahweh of the armies of heaven! He is the God of the armies of Israel, too! You have taunted HIM! Today Yahweh will give you to me. I will strike you down and I will cut off your head. Today, I will feed the corpses of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the living creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that there is a God for Israel! Everyone who is gathered here will know that Yahweh does not deliver people by swords or spears. The battle belongs to HIM! And, He will help us defeat all of you!’
As Goliath moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly to meet him. Then David reached into his bag and took a stone from it. He put it into his sling, and then David slung it fast. The stone hit the Philistine in his forehead and it stuck there. And Goliath fell face-down on the ground.
Then David ran and stood next to the Philistine. He pulled Goliath’s sword out of its holding case and killed him. David cut off his head with it. (So, David got the victory over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. David hit him and killed him. David did not carry a sword in his hand.)”
As I leave my study today I am encouraged by David’s example. He would not allow Goliath to intimidate him, even though he was much bigger and more experienced. He would not just stand by and listen to his Lord be taunted. And he had faith that the Lord would be with him. But more important, I am reminded that David gave the credit to God. He was a hero but he humbled himself by proclaiming that the victory belongs to the Lord.
Every day, I hear and see disrespect for God’s word. My prayer today is that I will have the courage to stand up and say “that is not right!” and the humility to give God the glory when he has enabled me to succeed.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 5
Obedience brings David success and loyalty.
After David killed Goliath he kept his severed head and his weapons as trophies of war. When the Philistines saw Goliath killed they ran away. The Israelites chased the Philistines all the way back to their cities, killing many along the way. Saul called David to him and asked him who his father was (apparently he didn’t recognize David as the musician who played for him at court.)
1 Samuel 18:1-16 (IEB): “When David finished talking with Saul, Jonathan (Saul’s son) admired David very much. In fact, he loved David as much as he loved his own life. From that day onward, Saul kept David with him. He did not permit David to go back home to his father’s house. Eventually, Jonathan made a pact with David. He did this because he loved David as much as he loved himself. Jonathan took off his robe and gave it to David. Jonathan also gave him his tunic, as well as his sword, his bow, and his belt.
David went out to fight wherever Saul sent him. And David was very successful. Then Saul promoted David, putting him over some of his soldiers. Saul’s officers and all the army were very glad to see this.
After David had killed more Philistines, he and the soldiers would return home. Women would come out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul. They would sing songs of joy. They danced. And, they played tambourines and three-stringed instruments. Back and forth, as they were playing, they sang: ‘Saul has killed thousands of his enemies, but David has killed his tens of thousands!’
This song of the women made Saul very upset. He thought it was a bad thing. He said, ‘They claim that David has killed tens of thousands, but they say I have killed only thousands! What else will belong to David? The Kingdom?!’ So Saul watched David very closely from that time forward (Saul was jealous of David).
On the next day, that same deep depression (See 1 Samuel 16:14-16) took hold of Saul. Inside his house, he babbled like a crazy man. With his hand, David was playing the harp as he always did when Saul was depressed. But Saul had a spear in his hand. He raised the spear toward David, thinking to himself: ‘I will pin David to the wall!’ But David dodged him twice.
Yahweh was with David, but Yahweh had abandoned Saul. So Saul was afraid of David. Saul sent David away from him. He made David his commander of 1,000 soldiers. So David led them out to battle. David was tremendously successful in everything he did, because Yahweh was with him. When Saul saw how successful David was, Saul became even more afraid of David. But all the people of Israel and Judah loved David. He was a real military leader.”
As I leave my study today, I am reminded again that God was with David because he served Him, and was obedient to his will. David was rewarded with success and loyalty. God was also with Saul in the beginning, but when Saul became self-serving God abandoned him. Saul is now full of insecurity, and jealousy, and is slowly going mad.
I pray today for an open heart to hear and understand God’s will. I pray that God will keep me from temptation, and rescue me when the world tries to take my focus away from Him.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 6
Saul seeks to kill David:
Saul had promised his daughter in marriage to the one who killed Goliath. But Saul is increasingly alarmed at David’s popularity with the Israelites. He hopes that David will be killed by the Philistines. Saul offered his older daughter to be David’s wife but David says he is not worthy enough for this honor. When it came time for them to marry, Saul gave her instead to Adriel of Meholah to be his wife. Saul’s other daughter Michal, loved David. Saul thought to himself “I will let Michal marry David. Then I will use her as a trap for him. And the Philistines will defeat him.” Saul had his servants tell David that he wanted David to marry Michal.
1 Samuel 18:23 (IEB): “So, the servants of Saul told these words to David. But David answered, ‘Do you think it’s an easy thing to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man, (a) and nobody respects me’.”
Following the footnotes: (a) implying that David could not afford a large marriage present for Princess Michal. See Genesis 34:12-13; Exodus 22:16-17; Deut. 22:28-29.
Genesis 34:12-13 (IEB): “Set the price for the bride high. And ask for any expensive gift. I will pay whatever you ask of me – just give me the girl to marry! But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with tricky words (because Shechem had defiled their sister Dinah).”
Exodus 22:16-17 (IEB): “If a man seduces a virgin girl who is not engaged and goes to bed with her, then he must certainly pay a dowry (a) for her to be his wife. However, if her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, then the man must pay the usual bride price for virgins.” Following the footnote (a) a gift to the bride’s family by the prospective husband in payment for the bride. This custom is still practiced today in some parts of the Middle East.
Deut. 22:28-29 (IEB): “If a man seizes a virgin who is not engaged to be married, and, he forces her to have sex with him, and, people find out about it, then the attacker must pay the girl’s father a bride-price of 1 1/4 pounds of silver. And, he must also marry the girl, because he has dishonored her. And, he can never divorce her for as long as he lives.”
1 Samuel 18:24-25 (IEB): “Then the servants of Saul reported to Saul what David said. So Saul said, ‘Now say this to David: “The king does not really want you to pay a large price for the bride. He only wants you to bring him 100 Philistine foreskins, (b) so that he can get revenge on his enemies”. (Saul was thinking the Philistines would surely kill David.)
Following the footnotes: (b) Philistines were uncircumcised pagans. Most other ethnic groups near Israel practiced circumcision. The Philistines were some of the best warriors. Saul wanted to make sure that David did not kill inferior soldiers and then pass them off as Philistines.
As I leave my study today it is clear that willfulness, lust, and deceit have always been with us, it is part of our sinful nature. It is only through Christ that sin looses its power.
1 Samuel 17 & 18 Day 7
God is no longer with Saul:
Saul sent David on a mission which Saul thought impossible, hoping that David would be killed. But God was with David, and David brought back twice what Saul had demanded as a bride price for his daughter Michal. So Saul gave David his daughter Michal to be his wife.
1 Samuel 18:28-30 (IEB): “Saul realized that Yahweh was with David. He also saw that his daughter Michal was in love with David. This caused Saul to be even more afraid of David. And, Saul hated David for the rest of his life.
The captains of the Philistines continued to come out to fight. However, David defeated them every time. David was more successful and more honored than any of Saul’s officers. David was getting famous.”
1 Samuel 19:1-10 (IEB): “Saul told his son Jonathan and all his officers that they must kill David. However, Jonathan, the son of Saul, cared about David very much. So Jonathan warned David, ‘Saul, my father, is trying to kill you! Please be on guard tomorrow morning. Stay in the secret place. Hide! I will go out there and stand next to my father in the field where you are hiding. I will talk to him about you. Then I will tell you what I learn.’
So Jonathan talked to his father Saul. Jonathan said good things about David. Jonathan said to Saul, ‘You are the king. You must not do wrong to your servant David. He has done nothing wrong to you. His deeds have been very beneficial to you. Yes, David risked his life when he killed Goliath the Philistine. And, didn’t Yahweh cause a great victory for all Israel!? You saw it, and you were glad! Why would you do wrong to David!? He is innocent. There is no reason to kill him!’
Jonathan persuaded Saul not to kill David. Then Saul swore this oath: ‘As surely as the Always-Present One lives, David will not be put to death!’ After Saul left, Jonathan called out to David. Then he told David everything that he and his father had talked about. Later, Jonathan brought David to Saul. So, David was in Saul’s presence as before.
War broke out again. So David went out to fight the Philistines. He defeated them badly, and they ran away from David.
However, once again, Saul was suffering in a deep depression. He was sitting in his house. David was playing the harp with his hand. But Saul had his spear in his hand. This time, Saul tried to run his spear through David to the wall. The spear stuck in the wall, but David got away from him. That night, David ran away and escaped.”
Way before David entered Saul’s life, God had rejected Saul because he had turned completely away from serving God (1 Samuel 15). Saul turned his focus on himself and the result was insecurity, depression, jealousy, fear, and hatred.
My prayer today is one of gratitude for the examples of Saul, Jonathan, and David. Saul shows what happens to those who are self-serving. Jonathan shows how to act honorably in a difficult situation, and David’s example shows the reward for being obedient to God.
Dear Lord, keep me away from the temptation of serving myself, and please forgive me when I find that I have turned away from doing Your will. I want to be Your servant. I want my thoughts and actions to glorify You. Thank you for Your living word that guides me to a right relationship with You. I can do everything You want me to, because You are with me. In Jesus name, Amen