The story of David in the Old Testament, the young shepherd boy destined to become the greatest king of Israel is one of the most faith inspiring and well known accounts in the Bible.
Not only does this account teach that through God all things are possible, it helps to show how each of us are all reliant on the Lord, especially when we fall because of our inherent human weaknesses.
The greatest miracle in David’s life wasn’t the giant that he conquered, but the relationship that he developed with God that gave him the courage to do the impossible by having faith to pick up the sling.
Who Was David in the Bible
David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem (house of bread) of the tribe of Judah is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 16:11-12:
“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”
King Saul, the current king of Israel had lost the support of God by his disobedience and attitude of arrogance.
Because of this, God sent Samuel the prophet to anoint a new king, and under the pretentions of offering a sacrifice in Bethlehem went to the house of Jesse.
When Samuel saw Eliab, the oldest, he thought that this was the man destined to lead Israel, however the Lord had a lesson for Samuel:
“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Samuel then is shown all of Jesse’s remaining sons, except the youngest who was busy tending Jesse’s few sheep.
When Samuel calls for him, the Lord reveals to Samuel that this young boy, David, was to be His anointed king.
Why Was Saul Troubled
Shortly thereafter, Saul was being troubled by an evil spirit.
In the bible, it says that “an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14)
This statement, however is contradictory to the very nature of God, for God is good and all good things come from Him.
However, because of Saul’s rebelliousness the Spirit of the Lord was no longer able to abide with him, leaving Saul open to attacks from the adversary.
Because the Old Testament is a record of ancient date which has been transcribed and translated by men for thousands of years, some translation errors are bound to occur.
In a revealed correction of transcription errors of this scripture it states:
” But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit which was not of the Lord troubled him.”Joseph Smith Translation 1 Samuel 16:14
In noticing the attitude change in their master, the servants point out to Saul that he needed something to help him through the personal and emotional attacks that he was under from the adversary.
To do this, they decided to turn to the power of music.
King Saul and David
One of the servants had seen David, and knew that he was very cunning at playing the harp.
It’s also interesting to note that here, before David even met Goliath, David was considered a “mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.” (1 Samuel 16:18).
Bethlehem is only five and a half miles from Jerusalem, so it wasn’t very hard to send some messengers to the house of Jesse to ask for David to come to the court.
Jesse loaded David up with some wine and a goat kid as a gift for Saul.
King Saul immediately liked David, and he became Saul’s armourbearer, which was a position of great trust.
David also played his harp for Saul, especially when the pull of the adversary was very strong.
The impact of David’s music was so powerful that “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” (1 Samuel 16:23).
David and Goliath
Who were the Philistines?
According to Britannica.com, the Philistines were a people of Aegean (islands from the Aegean Sea) origin.
According to Jeremiah 47:4 and Deuteronomy 2:23, they were actually from a place called Capthtor which some assume to be Crete.
The Philistines arrived at the coast of Palestine around the same time as the Israelites in the 12th century BC.
They possibly were one of the Sea Peoples who raided Anatolia, Cyprus, and Syria, before being repulsed by the Egyptians and eventually settling on the coastal plain between Joppa and Gaza.
They had five main centers, each with it’s own governing lord, and kept expanding its territory and was in constant conflict with the Israelites, such as was told in the story of the Israelite judge, Sampson.
They were considered militaristically superior to the Israelites in general by numbers and by technology since they were able to smith iron instead of bronze.
What We Know About Goliath
At the time of Saul, the Philistines had encroached on the hills of Judah, and Saul had gathered an army to confront them by the valley of Elah.
The Philistines camped on one side of the mountain, and the Israelites were camped on the other side of the mountain where a valley separated them.
The Philistines had a champion whose name was Goliath who we are told in 1 Samuel 17:4 “was six cubits and a span”, which roughly equals 9 feet tall.
Now, whether Goliath was from a strain of abnormally large humans or who had a genetic abnormality that made him that tall, we don’t know.
What we do know is that he was tall, loud, large, and very strong.
Goliath’s coat of mail weighed about 126 pounds, just the head of his spear was at least 15 pounds with the rest of it being described as being the size of a weaver’s beam, then you add the large brass helmet on his head, shin coverings called greaves, and a covering of brass between his shoulders meant he was carrying well over 200 pounds of gear without breaking a sweat.
Goliath then issues the infamous challenge, ‘Send out a man to fight me, if he kills me we will be your servants, but if I kill him then Israel has to serve us.’
After getting a good look at the Philistine champion, none of the Israelites are up for the challenge, so the Israelites and Philistines remain on their respective mountains for forty days.
David Enters the Battle
Meanwhile, David had taken a leave from Saul’s court to take care of his Father’s sheep while all of this was transpiring.
His oldest three brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah had joined Saul’s army and were with him at Elah.
Where were the other four brothers? The Bible never says.
The rest of the story is familiar.
Jesse asks David to take his brothers some parched corn, ten loaves of bread, and then some cheese to the captains to ask discretely or indiscreetly what is going on with the war.
David gets up in the morning, leaves the sheep with a keeper and went to the trenches just as the army is going off to fight, shouting for the battle.
David finds his brothers and is talking with them just as Goliath gets up and shouts his same demands, defying Israel and causing all of the army to tremble.
David is then told that whoever kills the giant will be given riches by the king, have the king’s daughter as a wife, and the family of the hero made free in Israel.
David is talking with some of the men, when his oldest brother hears him and gets mad, demanding why David was there and accused him for abandoning the sheep in the wilderness because of “the pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28).
Word gets to Saul of David asking why anyone isn’t doing anything, and when David confronts Saul, he informs him that he will go and slay the giant.
Saul, who has grown to love this young man, tries to dissuade him, but David doesn’t back down.
He recounts instances where he killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands, and that a Philistine who defied the armies of the living God will meet the same fate.
David attributes his deliverance from the lion and the bear to God, and declares that God would deliver him from Goliath.
Saul allows David to go, but tries to arm him with his own personal armor, which doesn’t fit David and is more of a hinderence then a help.
David goes off to face Goliath with nothing more then his shepherd staff, five smooth stones from a brook, and a sling.
Goliath gets closer to him and was insulted that a young man was there to face him. Goliath then insults him saying, “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves, and the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” (1 Samuel 17:43).
Goliath then says, “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the cowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field (1 Samuel 17: 44).
David replies, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the god of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands”. (1 Samuel 17: 45-47)
Goliath charges and David charges back.
Placing his hand in his bag, he takes a stone, slings it at Goliath and strikes him square in the forehead, causing the giant to fall to the earth.
David then grabs Goliath’s sword, chops off his head, causing the Philistines to run in panic.
The Israelites rally forth and chase the Philistines out of their land and confiscate the contents of whatever the Philistines left behind.
David takes Goliath’s head to Jerusalem.
Saul can’t believe what is happening and asks the captain of the army who just killed the giant, and he is surprised to find out that David successfully killed Goliath.
After the battle is over, David is taken into the house of the king, but soon jealousy overtakes the king which eventually leads to his and his family’s demise.
Despite his challenges, David trusts in the Lord and eventually is made king of Jerusalem and then Israel, which he reigns over for forty years.
Although he fought armies, killed giants, and avoided the wrath of a jealous king with the Lord’s help, he wasn’t impervious to the temptations of the devil.
One day, while he remained at his palace while his armies were away fighting the enemy, David was taken in by one of Satan’s devious traps, lusting after Bathsheba, the wife of one of the men that was off fighting David’s battles.
Instead of admitting what he had done wrong in committing adultery, David tries to cover up his sins by various means until he resorts to placing Uriah, a faithful and loyal man and Bathsheba’s husband, in the position where he knew he would be ultimately killed in the same manner that Saul had tried to kill him many times before.
With Uriah dead, he takes Bathsheba to wife.
For a while, David thinks all is well, until the prophet Nathan arrives with the story of the rich man who killed the poor man’s only ewe.
Outraged by the crimes of the rich man, David demands to know who this man was so that he would face justice, until Nathan revealed that David was the rich man in this story, and that by killing Uriah to marry Bathsheba he had committed crimes worse than the rich man, and that he couldn’t hide what he had done from God.
Picture of David
Of all of the battles that David had fought, the greatest one was the one that he faced when confronted with his own sins.
The rest of his life, David sought to find forgiveness, as is apparent in Psalms 51:
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindess: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions …Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and clense me from my sin…For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me…Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest…Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken heart and a contrite spirit, O God, thou wilt not despise…Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.”Psalm 51
This coloring page depicts David fighting his greatest enemy, the natural man.
However, through the gift of repentance David had the Lord to once again help him with his hardest battle he ever faced, the one that you and I are faced with on a daily basis, the battle for our souls.