One Little Rock
1 Samuel 17:41-58
41And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” 48When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. 55As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” 57And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
After 40 days of shouting at one another across the valley, the single-combat battle between Israel (David) and Philistia (Goliath) is brief, dramatic, and decisive. The only weapon Goliath pulls out are the derisive words he’s been using for 40 days. He says Israel is treating him like a “dog” and curses David by his gods.
In antiquity dogs were not kept as pets and were not highly esteemed. Instead, to compare someone (or oneself) to a dog or to throw a dead body to the dogs was a grave insult and a sign of disrespect. In Deuteronomy 23:19 “dog” refers to a male cult prostitute, an “abomination.”
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (notes) Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
David returns the words in kind, but they are more than just insults. David calls upon God to win the victory and engages in a little prophecy.
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
Imagine the scene. David declares that dead Philistines are going to litter the road from the Valley of Elah to the cities of Philistia. In just a few brief hours, that prophecy is fulfilled. With words of God’s praise ringing in everyone’s ears, David pulls one stone from his pouch and slings into Goliath’s forehead, causing him to fall face first before the army of God. Now it’s just a mop up operation. David runs up to Goliath’s body and cuts off his head, using Goliath’s own sword. I am fascinated by the fact that David then carries that severed head and all of Goliath’s armor off the battlefield as his trophy.
Yahweh was the Victor even without a sword or a spear. David’s threat, therefore, was that he would cut off the Philistine’s head and feed not only Goliath’s corpse to wild animals but also the “corpse of the camp of the Philistines”. This victory would be a message that “Israel has a God”, implying that the Philistines, like other heathen nations, had no gods, because their gods did not actually exist or were in fact demons.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (p. 342). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
As this story plays out, we see a teenager who is basically naked before a superior power, standing up in the name of the Lord God. It appears he has nothing with which to defend himself. But the opposite is true for he stands in the name of the Lord. The Apostle Paul takes up a similar situation for each one of us in his words to the Ephesians. We too wear the same kind of armor David wore that day in the valley. We bear not the weapons of human warfare, but instead we bear spiritual armor.
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
This armor is the strongest defense we have against the forces of evil in the world. We do well to put on this armor each day, finding our protection in the Lord alone. Whatever Goliaths you face, the Lord is stronger and mightier than anything they might pit against you. So let’s not stand spiritually naked before our enemy, but instead, utilize what God has graciously given. Put on your armor!