1 Samuel 17

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Read 1 Samuel 17

David and Goliath

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

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. 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 armies 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.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

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

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

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. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

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 young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 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.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 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. 46 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. 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.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Go Deeper

David and Goliath is one of the most well-known stories in the entire Bible. Believers and non-believers alike can tell you how the little guy defeats the giant with just his slingshot. David is the ultimate underdog who comes out victorious over Goliath, and we all love a good underdog story. But we shouldn’t let the story’s familiarity keep us from seeing the role God plays in it. David doesn’t defeat Goliath⏤God does. The problem with thinking of this story as an underdog story is that we view David as the hero when it’s clear he isn’t. 

Read this battle cry from 1 Samuel 17:45-47 again: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty…This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down…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.”

The reason David was so confident he could beat a man twice his size was because he knew the battle wasn’t his to win. It was God’s. David was just a willing vessel for God to work through. The truth in this story is still true for us today. The battle we’re fighting is God’s. He doesn’t ask us to go into battle on our own; He wants to go with us. He wants us to surrender the fight to Him so He can go to work for us.

The way we battle our giants is by getting on our knees in prayer. Phil Wickham sings: “When I fight, I’ll fight on my knees with my hands lifted high. Oh God, the battle belongs to You.” Whatever battle we are facing right now, we can’t fight with our own strength. We’ll never be strong enough. The most qualified, capable soldiers in the Israelite army weren’t able to defeat Goliath. Physical strength, mental toughness, abilities, gifts, and talents will never save. Only God saves. We can safely surrender our “strength,” bring our battles to God, and let Him fight for us. It’s what He does best.


  1. What does it look like for you to fight in your own strength? Are you doing that today? 
  2. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul says he boasts in his weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on him. Why do our weaknesses showcase Christ’s strength? How have you seen God’s power show through your weaknesses?
  3. Are you facing any battles in your life? Have you brought them before the Lord in prayer? If not, stop right now and go to battle through prayer.

Listen Here:

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6 thoughts on “1 Samuel 17”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    We will face giants in our path that seek to defeat us. Confidence in God to lead us through each test will determine the outcome. Every physical battle we face has a crucial spiritual dimension. Ultimately our goal is to glorify God and honor Him. No one knows what’s around the bend in the road, but God does. He awaits our surrender and dependence on him to be our strength, source and guide. The closing verse of this chapter tells of David’s lineage, the town of Bethlehem, the same place where our Savior was born. Today, I will remember that both the battle & the victory belong to the Lord.

  2. Such a good word here! David doesn’t defeat Goliath. And he doesn’t defeat Goliath because God is by his side. “David doesn’t defeat Goliath—God does.” A powerful reminder to me today to let God be God in my life. And it’s also a word of comfort that I can trust Him.

  3. Looking back at many battles I’ve faced, the ones through which I allowed the Lord to carry me, I remember that peace that passes all understanding. It is almost as if I came through those battles more at rest. Before I put my trust in the Lord, fighting in my own strength, I came out completely worn out and still have memories of how hard it was. God is so good to offer His strength – we need only to turn and follow Him. He is calling us to trust in Him so He can carry the load. I just have to listen to Him instead of the noise of the world.

  4. Verses 39-40 are also a reminder that we need to be familiar with our armor and weapons. If we are not they can be more of a stumbling block than assistance. We need to practice our Faith, learn His Word, and know His Spirit before we come face-to-face with a giant or enter into a battle. Paul tells us the armor of God we are to use in our battles in Ephesians 6, and reminds us we are to be strong in the Lord so that we can stand against our enemies.

  5. I admire David’s childlike faith that God can do anything. Goliath’s intimidation didn’t stand a chance with David. He didn’t even see Goliath as a giant or be intimidated by His words. Goliath relied on his own bigness. But David saw God’s power. I need to stop relying on my abilities or lack of them when facing challenges. Instead I just need to pick up that stone and see God at work! Why is this so hard to learn?

  6. The battle is indeed the Lord’s. But we play a part too. David could have turned the other way and ran back to his sheep. But he accepted the challenge fueled by a holy anger that Goliath was defying the God of Israel. He also know what God would do because he showed up when he struck and killed the Lion and the bear. Too often I have shrunk away from the battle because I look at my own abilities and haven’t allowed God to work through me by showing up to the battle. The battle is indeed the Lord’s but we must do our part and commit to the battle to see God move His mighty hand in our favor.

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