1 Samuel 17
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1 Samuel 17:1-11. (THE VALLEY OF ELAH.)
They were dismayed, and greatly afraid (ver. 11).

1. The renewed attempt of the Philistines to subjugate Israel shows, in comparison with their former invasion, a decrease of power. They did not penetrate into the heart of the land (1 Samuel 13:5), but advanced only a short distance from their own border, and "pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim," a dozen miles southwest of Bethlehem. They had been driven back and held in check.

2. It could hardly have been possible, but for the rashness of Saul in "the war of Michmash," by which the opportunity of inflicting a fatal blow was lost. Hearing, perhaps, of his condition, and perceiving signs of the laxity of his rule, they sought to repair their defeat.

3. It found the people of Israel, notwithstanding their previous success, ill-prepared to repel the aggression. Although they went to meet the enemy, and encamped opposite to them, they did nothing more. In the spirit of a better time they would have immediately fallen upon them in reliance upon "the Lord of hosts" (Deuteronomy 32:30); but now they were paralysed with fear, especially at the appearance of the gigantic champion who came out against them. The Philistines desired to make the issue depend on a single combat between this man and any Israelitish warrior who might be appointed to meet him; and he "drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days" (ver. 16). A similar fear has sometimes pervaded the Christian community in the presence of the enemy.


1. Their number is great. They consist not merely of one or two, 'but of a host of giants.

(1) Within: carnal affections, corrupt tendencies, proud thoughts, evil imaginations, and wrathful passions.

(2) Without: ignorance, error, unbelief, superstition, intemperance, licentiousness, worldliness, and "all ungodliness."

(3) In the background of all "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

2. Their appearance is imposing. They seem to be possessed of extraordinary might, and arrayed in terrible armour, and are of great renown. "Am I not that Philistine" (ver. 8), who has exhibited such prowess and slain so many foes? "He arose, and came, and drew nigh, like a stalking mountain, overlaid with brass and iron" (M. Henry).

3. Their attitude is proud, boastful, defiant, contemptuous, and increasingly confident of victory as day after day the challenge is renewed, and no one dares to answer it. "The first challenge to a duel that we ever find came out of the mouth of an uncircumcised Philistine" (Hall). How often has the contemplation of such adversaries filled even good men with dismay! While we measure our natural strength against the forces of evil our case is hopeless. "Who is sufficient for these things?"


1. Distrust of God and alienation from him. Faith prevents fear. It looks to God, judges of the power of the enemy in the light of his omnipotence, unites to him, and inspires with unbounded courage (1 Samuel 14:6; ver. 47); but unbelief is blind and weak and fearful (Matthew 8:26). And dismay in great emergencies reveals the absence or feebleness of faith in the preceding and ordinary course of life.

2. Outward acts of disobedience to the Divine will diminishing moral power, and producing inward distraction and dread.

3. Sympathy with a faithless leader, and participation in the "spirit of fear" (2 Timothy 1:7) which he possesses. Saul had forsaken the Lord. He had not the presence of Samuel with him; nor, apparently, that of the high priest; nor did he seek the Divine counsel as aforetime. He ruled independently of Jehovah; and the people loved too much "to have it so," sharing in his faithlessness and fear. A faithless and fearful leader cannot have faithful and fearless followers.

III. IT INCURS DESERVED REPROACH (vers. 8, 26) - uttered by the enemy, and echoed in the conscience of the people, on account of -

1. The cowardice of their conduct.

2. The inconsistency of their position, as professed servants of the living God: unfaithful to their calling, trembling before the votaries of "gods that were no gods" (ver. 44), and bringing dishonour upon the name of Jehovah. "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (Romans 2:24; Proverbs 25:26).

3. The likelihood of their defeat, of which it is a virtual acknowledgment, and to which it must infallibly conduct, unless a better spirit be infused into them. "How is it that ye have not faith?" (Mark 4:40). Learn that -

1. The spirit of fear can be expelled only by the spirit of faith.

2. Fearfulness in conflict, difficulty, and danger indicates a lack of faith, and should constrain to renewed trust in God.

3. In their greatest extremity God does not abandon his people to despair, but provides for them "a way of escape." - D.

1 Samuel 17:17, 18. (BETHLEHEM.)
Family life occupies a prominent place in the Books of Samuel, and the affectionate concern of parents for their children is often mentioned (see 1 Samuel 2:24; 1 Samuel 10:2). Jesse, who, in consequence of his advanced age (ver. 12), was himself unable to go against the Philistines, had his three elder sons in the army of Israel; and after they had been absent for some weeks, sent their youngest brother with provisions for their need, to make inquiries about their welfare, and "take their token," by which he might be assured thereof. Such solicitude as he displayed is -


1. Arising out of the instinctive affection which is felt by parents.

2. Continuing throughout the whole of life.

3. Commended by the heavenly Father, who puts it into the heart; and often illustrated, directed, and regulated by the teachings of his word (Genesis 18:19; Genesis 22:2; 2 Samuel 18:33; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 5:8).


1. Of the distance of children from home, and of their deprivation of parental oversight, counsel, and restraint.

2. Of their need: temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

3. Of their peril: from their own tendencies, their intimate associations, and their open enemies.

III. PRACTICAL. Expressed -

1. In sending them presents of that which is best adapted to their wants.

2. By the hand of a brother (Genesis 37:14; Genesis 43:11).

3. With the request of a token of affectionate regard for the gratification of a heart that desires and seeks their happiness.

IV. ILLUSTRATIVE of "the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man" (Titus 2:4). The relation of an earthly father to his children is a shadow of that of the heavenly Father to men; it was doubtless appointed from the first to be such, and the loving care which arises out of it is, in comparison with that of the "Father of spirits," only as a ray of light compared with the sun. This also is -

1. Natural and spontaneous, for "God is love."

2. Considerate (Psalm 103:13, 14). "In thee the fatherless findeth mercy (Hosea 14:3).

3. Practical. "I have loved you, saith the Lord," etc. (Malachi 1:2; Matthew 7:11; John 3:16). Exhortation: -

1. To parents. Let your kindness to your children be such as accords with that of your heavenly Father to you, and as affords a true image of it.

2. To children. Show kindness to your parents in return for their kindness to you (1 Samuel 22:3), as your heavenly Father requires.

3. To all. "If I be a father, where is mine honour?" (Malachi 1:6). - D.

1 Samuel 17:19-31. (THE VALLEY OF ELAH.)
What have I now done? Is there not a cause? (ver. 29. Was it not a word? or, Was it anything more than a word?). In the conflict of life the first victory which every one should seek to achieve is the victory over himself. Unless he gain this, he is not likely to gain others, or, if he gain them, to improve them aright; but if, on the ether hand, he gain it, he is thereby prepared to gain others, and to follow them up with the greatest advantage. Such a victory was David's.

1. He arrived at the wagon rampart when the host was about to make an advance; leaving there the things he carried, he ran into the ranks to seek his brethren; and, while talking with them, there stalked forth, as on previous days, the Philistine champion, at the sight of whom "all the men of Israel fled, and were sore afraid" (ver. 24). The shepherd youth alone was fearless. There was in him more faith than in the whole army. And in conversing with the men around him he intimated the possible overthrow of this boastful giant, and the "taking away of the reproach from Israel," and expressed his amazement at the audacity of the man in "defying the ranks of the living God" (whose presence and power all appear to have forgotten).

2. On hearing his words, and probably surmising that he entertained the thought of encountering the champion, Eliab was filled with envy and anger, and reproached him as being out of his proper place, as only fit to have the charge of a few sheep, and even neglectful of them, and as proud, discontented with his calling, bad-hearted, and delighting in the sight of strife and bloodshed, which, he said, he knew, however others might be deceived. Ah, how little did he really know of his brother's heart! But angry men are more desirous of inflicting pain than of uttering the truth.

3. This language would have excited the fierce wrath of most persons. But David maintained his self-control, and gave the soft answer which "turneth away wrath." He thus obtained a victory which was hardly less noble than that which he shortly afterwards obtained over Goliath. Consider his self-conquest (with respect to the passion of anger) as -


1. The contemptuous reproach of a brother. From him at least better things might have been expected. But natural affection often vanishes before envy and anger (Genesis 4:8), and is transformed into intense hatred. "There is no enemy so ready or so spiteful as the domestical" (Hall).

2. An ungrateful return for kindness. David had come with valuable presents and kindly inquiries, and this was his reward.

3. An unjust impugning of motives. "Eliab sought for the splinter in his brother's eye, and was not aware of the beam that was in his own; the very things with which he charged his brother were most apparent in his own scornful reproach" (Keil).

4. An open attack upon reputation. His words were intended to damage David in the eyes of others, as unworthy of their confidence and regard. All these things were calculated to exasperate. "Thus David was envied of his own brethren, herein being a type of Christ, who was rejected of the Jews, being as it were the eldest brethren, and was received of the Gentiles" (Wilier). The followers of Christ are often exposed to similar provocation. "And the strength of a good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world (J. Edwards).


1. Extraordinary meekness and forbearance in enduring reproach. "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding," etc. (Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 25:28).

2. Firm and instant repression of angry passion. For it could hardly be but that a flash of indignation should glance into his breast; but "anger resteth in the bosom of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

3. Wise and gentle reserve in the language employed. It is as useless to reason with the wind as with an angry man. "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth," etc. (Psalm 141:3).

4. Continued and steadfast adherence to a noble purpose. David went on talking. after the same manner" (ver. 30). We ought not to suffer ourselves to be turned from the path of duty by the reproach which we may meet therein, but we should rather pursue it more diligently than ever, and prove by our conduct the sincerity and rectitude of our spirit. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32). "It is better to conquer the deceitful lusts of the heart than to conquer Jerusalem" (St. Bernard).

"The bravest trophy ever man obtained
Is that which o'er himself, himself hath gained." When thou art offended by others, do not let thy mind dwell upon them, or on such thoughts as these: - that they ought not so to have treated thee; who they are; or whom they think themselves to be, and the like; for all this is fuel, and a kindling of anger, wrath, and hatred. But in such eases turn instantly to the strength and commands of God, that thou mayest know what thou oughtest to do, and that thine error be not greater than theirs. So shalt thou return into the way of peace (Scupoli). And of this spirit Christ is the supreme pattern (1 Peter 2:21-23).


1. A sense of peace and Divine approbation. "Angels came and ministered unto him" (Matthew 4:11). It is always thus with those who conquer temptation.

2. The purifying and strengthening of faith, by means of the trial to which it is subjected (1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2).

3. The commendation of character in the sight of others, who commonly judge of the truth of an accusation by the manner in which it is met, and naturally confide in a man of calmness, firmness, and lofty purpose. "They rehearsed them" (his words) "before Saul: and he sent for him" (ver. 31).

4. The preparation of the spirit for subsequent conflict. "Could the second victory have been achieved if he had failed in the first conflict? His combat with Goliath demanded an undimmed eye, a steady arm, and a calm heart, and if he had given way to stormy passion for only a brief season there would have been a lingering feverishness and nervousness, utterly unfitting him for the dread struggle on which the fate of two armies and two nations was depending" (C. Vince). - D.

Here the history assumes the charm of romance, and David stands forth a hero above all Greek and Roman fame. By the grace of God he won three victories in quick succession.

1. Over the spirit of auger. When David, shocked to see all Israel defied and daunted by one Philistine, showed his feeling to the men that stood by him, his eldest brother, Eliab, sneered at him openly, and taunted him with being fit only to keep sheep, or to look at battles which others fought. Probably this ungracious brother had not forgiven David for being preferred before him in the day when Samuel visited the house of Jesse; probably too he was conscious that it was the duty of some such tall soldier as himself to encounter the Philistine champion, and he was ashamed and irritated because he was afraid to fight. So he vented his ill-humour in a most galling and insulting reproach, hurled at his stripling brother. His words might have provoked a sharp retort. But David was in a mood of feeling too exalted to descend to wrangling. He was forming a purpose, at once patriotic and pious, which he saw that Eliab was unfit to appreciate, and therefore made a calm and mild reply: "What have I now done? It was only a word;" q.d. "I may surely ask a question." Thus the hero ruled his own spirit; was master of himself before he mastered others; had that disinclination and disdain for paltry quarrels which belongs to men who cherish high and arduous aims; and David's first triumph was the triumph of meekness.

2. Over the precautions of unbelief. When the youth was led to the king, and in his presence offered to fight with the Philistine, he was told that he was not old or strong enough for the encounter. When a tried soldier of lofty stature like Saul himself shrank from the combat, how could this stripling attempt it? It was certain death. David was not shaken from his purpose. He showed the king that his trust was in God, and that the remembrance of past encounters with wild beasts when the Lord delivered him made him confident of victory over the giant. Then Saul said, "Go, and the Lord be with thee." Perhaps he said it from a mere habit of using such phrases, perhaps with a melancholy feeling that from himself the Lord had departed. But he had so much consideration for the brave youth before him as to put his own armour on him, and gird him with his own sword. It may seem strange that he did not assign to him a suit of armour more suited to his size; but there was little armour of any kind among the Israelites, and none so good as that of the king. It was well meant, but it was a sign of unbelief. Saul could not trust in God to defend this young champion, but would cover him with a brazen helmet and a coat of mail. David, however, happily for himself, put off the armour. It only encumbered his body, taking away his native nimbleness of movement, and it tended to weaken in his mind that total faith in God and sense of dependence on him which was more to him in such a field than even the armour of a king. Thrice was he armed who had his quarrel just, and the living God for his refuge and strength.

3. Over the proud blasphemer. Goliath was a terrible opponent in a time when gunpowder as yet was not, and prowess in the field depended on size, strength, and armour. No one dared to accept his challenge; and as he stalked along the valley he scoffed at the men of Israel with impunity. It was a prodigy of courage on the part of a youth like David - however strong and active, not above the customary height of men - to assail that moving tower of brass. But it was no blind fanaticism, such as despises caution and skill, and disowns the use of fit means, as though implying a want of faith. David's faith made him use his utmost care and dexterity, trusting in God to give him a sure aim and a quick victory. It is quite a mistake to dwell on the simplicity of David in going forth to the combat with a weapon so unlikely, so inadequate, as a sling. On the contrary, he would have shown not simplicity only, but folly, if he had trusted to sword and spear. If he were to strike the giant at all, it must be from a distance, and not with weapons held in the hand; for Goliath's long arm and long spear would never have let him near enough to inflict a blow. So David shrewdly took the sling, with which he was familiar, and picked from the bed of the brook a few pebbles which would pass through the air like bullets. The sling was in fact the rifle of the period, and men who practised the art could make their bull's eyes with this weapon as well as our modern rifle shooters, though not at so great distances. The giant, seeing the shepherd's staff in David's hand, and probably not perceiving the thong of the sling, demanded whether he was regarded as a dog, that might be beaten with a stick. Then he loudly defied the rash boy who ventured to meet him in combat, and cursed him by his own heathen god. Back across the valley went the noble answer of Jehovah's servant. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." Then came the terrible moment, and both armies "held their breath for a time." David made the attack. Nimbly he ran forward to be within shot. Goliath had opened the visor of his helmet to look at the foe whom he despised, and to shout defiance. Thus was his forehead exposed. David's quick eye saw the advantage; he slipped a pebble into the sling, and let it fly. A sharp whistle in the air, and the stone sunk into the giant's haughty brow. "He fell on his face to the earth." How the men of Israel shouted as they heard the clang of his heavy armour on the ground, and saw their young champion cut off the boaster's head with his own sword! Then it was the turn of the Philistines to fear and to flee; and the Israelites pursued them, and "spoiled their tents." So one man gained three battles in a day, and thousands reaped the advantage of his victories. Is not this what we have under the gospel? One who was born in Bethlehem, but in whom his own brethren did not believe, is our Deliverer and the Captain of our salvation. Jesus overcame provocation by his meekness and lowliness of heart. He overcame all temptation to unbelief and self-will by his perfect trust in God his Father. He also overcame that strong adversary who had long defied and daunted the people of God, and had lifted up the name of false gods on the earth, blaspheming him who is true. This enemy seemed to stride to and fro in the earth, and boast himself against the Lord with impunity. But the Son of David has bruised the enemy's head, laid low his pride, and now thousands and tens of thousands enter into his victory and shout his praise. To David belonged the honours of the day. Jonathan loved him. All Israel extolled him. So let us love and praise him who has won for us a greater victory and a richer spoil. We thank victorious generals, we decorate valiant soldiers, we raise statues and trophies to national champions. But, in truth, the country which they have saved is their real monument, the nation which they rescue from oppression or danger is the true and lasting pillar of their fame. So is it in regard to the Captain of our salvation. Words and offerings for his cause are insufficient for his praise. The Church of the redeemed is his monument. All whom he has saved out of the enemy's hand are to the praise of his glory. "Hosanna to the Son of David; hosanna in the highest!" - F.

1 Samuel 17:32-37. (THE VALLEY OF ELAH.)
He will deliver me out of the hand of the Philistine (ver. 37). Many things tend to hinder the exercise and work of faith. Some of them arise from the heart itself. Others arise from the speech and conduct of other people. Such was the scornful reproach cast upon David by his eldest brother, and such the cold distrust with which he was at first regarded by Saul. But as he had doubtless overcome his own tendency to unbelief by recalling what God had done, so now by the same means he overcame the unbelief of the king, and excited his confidence and hope. "Let no man's heart fail," etc. (ver. 32). "Thou art not able," etc. (ver. 33). But "there was that in the language of this youth which recalled the strength of Israel, which seemed like the dawn of another morning, like the voice from another world" (Edersheim). "And Saul said unto David, Go, and Jehovah be with thee" (ver. 37); thus displaying one of the best features of character he possessed after his rejection. We have here -

I. AN EXPERIENCE of great deliverances.

1. Consisting of accomplished facts. "Thy servant kept his father's sheep," etc. (vers. 34, 35). They were not imaginary, but real events.

2. Occurring in personal history, and therefore the more certain and deeply impressed on the mind. How full is every individual life of instructive providential occurrences, if we will but observe them.

3. Wrought by a Divine hand. "The Lord that delivered me," etc. (ver. 37). Where unbelief perceives nothing but chance and good fortune a devout spirit sees "him who is invisible;" and the extraordinary success which the former attributes to man the latter ascribes to God.

4. Treasured up in a grateful memory. "Therefore will I remember thee," etc. (Psalm 42:6; Psalm 77:10, 11). Experience is the collection of many particulars registered in the memory."

II. AN ARGUMENT for strong confidence. The argument -

1. Rests upon the unchangeableness of God, and the uniform method of his dealings. "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent" (1 Samuel 16:29). Hence every instance of his help is an instruction and a promise, inasmuch as it shows the manner in which lie affords his aid, and gives assurance of it under like conditions. "Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice" (Psalm 63:7; Psalm 27:9). "This was a favourite argument with David. He was fond of inferring future interpositions from past. And the argument is good, if used cautiously and with just discrimination. It is always good if justly applied. The difficulty is in such application. The unchangeable God will always do the same things in the same circumstances. If we can be certain that cases are alike we may expect a repetition of his conduct" (A.J. Morris).

2. Recognises similarity between the circumstances in which Divine help has been received and those in which it is expected, viz,

(1) in the path of duty;

(2) in conflict with an imposing, powerful, and cruel adversary;

(3) in a state of perilous need;

(4) in the exercise of simple trust;

(5) in the use of appropriate means;

(6) and in seeking the honour of God.

When there is so close a resemblance the argument is readily applied, and its conclusion irresistible.

3. Regards the help formerly received as a pledge of personal favour, and an encouragement to expect not only continued, but still greater, benefits from him whose power and love are measureless. "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work," etc. (2 Timothy 4:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 1:10).

"Man's plea to man is that he never more
Will beg, and that he never begged before:
Man's plea to God is that he did obtain
A former suit, and therefore sues again.
How good a God we serve, that, when we sue,
Makes his old gifts the examples of his new"


4. Is confirmed in practice as often as it is faithfully tested, and increases in force, depth, and breadth with every fresh experience of Divine help. "Oh, were we but acquainted with this kind of reasoning with God, how undaunted we should be in all troubles! We should be as secure in time to come as for the time past; for all is one with God. We do exceedingly wrong our own souls and weaken our faith by not minding God's favours. How strong in faith might old men be that have had many experiences of God's love if they would take this course! Every former mercy should strengthen our faith for a new, as conquerors whom every former victory encourageth to a new conquest" (Sibbes, 'Works,' 1:320). - D.

1 Samuel 17:38-54. (EPHES-DAMMIM.)
So David prevailed (ver. 50).

1. David was specially prepared for the conflict by the whole of his previous life, and especially by his successful attack upon the lion and the bear, and his victory over himself.

2. He was providentially led into the conflict. "Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army just in the critical juncture; but the wise God orders the time and all the circumstances of actions and affairs so as to serve his designs of securing the interest of Israel and advance the man after his own heart" (M. Henry).

3. He was inwardly impelled to the conflict by the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him (1 Samuel 16:13), and had formerly inspired Saul with fiery zeal against the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:6). If he had gone into it in any other manner he would doubtless have failed.

4. He rendered invaluable service to Israel by the conflict, not only thereby repelling the invasion of the Philistines, but also teaching them the spirit they should cherish, and the kind of king they needed. "It is not too much to assert that this event was a turning point in the history of the theocracy, and marked David as the true king of Israel, ready to take up the Philistine challenge of God and his people, and kindling in Israel a new spirit, and in the might of the living God bringing the contest to victory" (Edersheim).

5. He became an appropriate type of Christ by the conflict. "It is a rehearsal of Christ's temptation and victory a thousand years afterwards" (Wordsworth's 'Com.').

6. He was also an eminent pattern for Christians in the conflict; exhibiting the spirit which they should possess in their warfare with "the world, the flesh, and the devil." "David's contest with Goliath will only be apprehended in its true light if the latter be regarded as a representative of the world, and David the representative of the Church" (Hengstenberg). Notice -

I. THE WEAPONS which he chose (vers. 38-40).

1. He neglected not the use of weapons altogether. To have done so would have been rash and presumptuous; for it is God's method to grant success to those who employ the legitimate aids which he has provided for the purpose. Although David did not trust in weapons of war, he did not throw them away, but used them wisely. We must do the same in the spiritual conflict.

2. He rejected the armour, defensive and offensive, which seemed to others indispensable. "I cannot go in these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him" (ver. 39). Some weapons may appear to others, and even to ourselves, at first, to be the best, and yet not be really such. Some weapons may be suitable to others, but not to us. We must learn by experience. We must be simple, genuine, and true to ourselves. And above all, we must look for Divine guidance in the matter. "The weapons of our. warfare are not carnal," etc. (2 Corinthians 10:4).

3. He selected the weapons which were most effective. "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones," etc. (ver. 40) - selected them carefully, knowing well which were the best for his purpose; and he was not satisfied with one or two merely, but provided a reserve. His weapons were insignificant only in the view of the inconsiderate. They were the most suitable that can be conceived, and gave greatest promise of success; and his genius was shown in their selection. Intelligence was opposed to brute force. "It was just because the sling and the stone were not the weapons of Goliath that they were best fitted to David's purpose. They could be used at a distance from the enemy; they made his superior resources of no avail; they virtually reduced him to the dimensions and condition of an ordinary man; they did more, they rendered his extraordinary size a disadvantage; the larger he was, the better for the mark. David, moreover, had been accustomed in his shepherd life to the sling; it had been the amusement of his solitary hours, and had served for his own protection and that of his flock; so that he brought to his encounter with Goliath an accuracy of aim and a strength and steadiness of arm that rendered him a most formidable opponent" (A.J. Morris). The lesson here taught is not that anything will do to fight with, but that there must be in spiritual, as well as in secular, conflicts a proper adaptation of means to ends.

II. THE SPIRIT which he displayed (vers. 41-48).

1. Humility. His heart was not haughty and proud (Psalm 131:1), as Eliab said it was, but humble and lowly. He was conscious of unworthiness before God, of utter weakness and insufficiency in himself, and ready to do and bear whatever might be the will of the Lord concerning him. Humility (from humus, the ground) lies in the dust, and is the root out of which true excellence grows. It is the first, the second, and the third thing in religion (Augustine). "Before honour is humility" (Proverbs 15:32). "He giveth grace to the humble." "Be clothed with humility."

2. Faith. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts" (ver. 45; see 1 Samuel 1:3). He looked beyond man to God, and relied upon his help. "He did not compare himself with Goliath, but he compared Goliath with Jehovah," who was the Leader and "God of the ranks of Israel." He believed, and therefore he spoke, and fought, and prevailed (2 Corinthians 4:13). "Although unarmed in the estimation of men, he was armed with the Godhead" (St. Ambrose).

3. Zeal. He was little concerned about his own honour and renown, but he was "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts" (1 Kings 19:14). He heard the gods of the heathen extolled (ver. 43), and the name of Jehovah blasphemed, and he was desirous above all things that he should be glorified. "All the earth shall know," etc. (ver. 46). "All this assembly shall know," etc. (ver. 47). When we fight for God we may confidently expect that he will fight for us. "The battle is the Lord's."

4. Courage, which stood in contrast to the fear with which Israel was smitten, and was the fruit of his humility, faith, and zeal. It was shown in his calm and dauntless attitude in going forth against his opponent, in the presence of the two armies, in breathless suspense; in his bold and confident answer to the contemptuous challenge of the foe; and in his eagerness and energy in the actual conflict. "David hasted, and ran," etc. (vers. 48, 49, 51). "So David prevailed."

III. THE VICTORY which he achieved. Not only was the boastful Philistine overthrown, speedily, signally, and completely, but also -

1. The enemy fled in terror (ver. 51), and their power was broken (ver. 52).

2. Israel was imbued with a new and better spirit (vers. 52, 53).

3. He himself was honoured - by God in giving him the victory and opening before him a wider sphere of activity, by the king (vers. 55-58; 1 Samuel 18:2), and by all the people. Even the Philistines long afterwards held his name in dread (1 Samuel 21:11). "This first heroic deed of David was of the greatest importance to him and all Israel, for it was his first step on the way to the throne to which Jehovah had resolved to raise him" (Keil). "Raised by the nation, he raised and glorified it in return; and, standing at the crowning point of the history of the nation, he concentrates in himself all its brilliance, and becomes the one man of greatest renown in the whole course of its existence" (Ewald). - D.

Many of the battles which are waged on earth are not the Lord's. They are unnecessary and unrighteous. The end they seek and the means they adopt to attain it are evil. Other conflicts are only the Lord's in an inferior sense. Although not unnecessary, nor in themselves unrighteous, they are waged with secular aims and carnal weapons. But there is one which is the Lord's in the highest sense. It is a holy war; a conflict of the kingdom of light with the kingdom of darkness. Observe that -

1. The obligation is imposed by the Lord. "Fight the good fight of faith."

2. The adversaries are the adversaries of the Lord. "Principalities and powers," etc.

3. The soldiers are the people of the Lord. Those in whose hearts the principles of the kingdom of God are implanted - "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

4. The Commander is the Anointed of the Lord. "The Captain of our salvation." "The Leader and Commander of the people."

5. The weapons are provided by the Lord. "Put on the whole armour of God" - "the armour of light."

6. The success is due to the Lord. He gives the strength which is needed: "teacheth our hands to war, and our fingers to fight," and "he will give you into our hands."

7. The end is the glory of the Lord. When it is over God will be "all in all." "Who is on the Lord's side?" - D.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by Biblesoft, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com

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