Chapter Five – A Rockin’ Worship Service

(Concerning First Samuel Seventeen)

As I said before, I see First Samuel chapters sixteen and seventeen as a pair.

In chapter sixteen we saw the David heart drive a demon out of a man. In this chapter we will see the same heart drive out the physical manifestation of a demon from a nation. For all practical purposes, David shepherded the king in the previous chapter; he shepherded the nation in this one.

1 Samuel 17:1-11 –

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh 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. He was over nine feet tall. 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.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

Previously Saul was terrified by a supernatural spirit; in this chapter both he and the nation he rules were terrified by … a natural man? Well … maybe not …

Genesis chapter six begins with the following verses:

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,  the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim [giants] were on the earth in those days-and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.                                                                        Genesis 6:1-4

Since well before the Christian era, the term “sons of God” has been considered by the Jewish rabbis to refer to angels. The first chapter of Job is one of the places this is corroborated. Jesus made it clear that angels do not marry. However, many people, myself included, believe that, from time to time throughout history, rebelling spirits have taken natural bodies in a type of antichrist incarnation. Note the phrase above, …” and also afterward…” which implies this was not a one time event. Though the “Nephilim” mentioned in Genesis chapter six were doubtless drowned in Noah’s flood, this phrase implies that this was not the last time an event of this kind has occurred.

Before I go on to some more scriptures, let me say that it appears to me that a nation’s sins can reach the place of “full measure,” (Genesis 15:16). I believe the last straws before judgment are:

  1. rampant homosexuality,
  2. child sacrifice,
  3. and finally, full fledge sexual relations with demonic spirits. In Genesis chapter 15, the Lord told Abraham that his descendants would re-enter the land only when the sins of its occupants had reached “full measure.” I believe the above three steps into the pit constitute this full measure. Joshua’s generation, 500 years after Abraham, had the call to receive the land Abraham had been promised, and, as part of that call, to slay the giants in the land. Realize that David lived about 400 years after Joshua. I believe the following passage implies that Goliath was some of Joshua’s “unfinished business” left to be cleaned up when the first king finally came to power.

Joshua 1:21-23

At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, GATH and Ashdod did any survive. So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, [now dead] and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

As you can see, at the beginning of the time of the judges, (which was right after Joshua and four centuries immediately prior to Saul’s kingship), the Anakite/Nephilim giants were left only in the three Philistine strongholds of …”Gaza, Gath and Ashdod ….” Then it follows that the first king to follow the era of the judges would inherit the business of confronting these beings. Goliath, as we read before, was from Gath. And you may remember that Second Samuel details several more encounters David’s men had with Philistine giants, all related to Goliath. Thus, if my conclusions are correct, the Spirit has followed the chapter where the Saul heart is helpless before an invisible evil spirit with a chapter that shows him helpless before an incarnated evil spirit – Goliath! With this in mind, read on:

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 old and well advanced in years. Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. (1 Samuel 17:12-15)

It is said twice that the “three oldest followed Saul.” As we go a little further into our story it will seem that Eliab followed both the Saul heart, as well as the material man. Also, though Saul had awarded David a full time job for “delivering” him, he had forgotten to be true to his word. He had seen fit to change the lowly shepherd boys duties back to part time. The Saul heart had a hard time rightly valuing David’s services, since they were in the invisible realm. But that was about to change. The “demon” at hand was very, very visible!

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. 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. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 17:16-19)

(Well… they were sort of …”fighting against the Philistines.”)

“Early in the morning David left the flock with 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.” (1 Samuel 17:20)

Though Saul had not been faithful in keeping David in the prestigious position he had earned by “delivering” the king, David’s heart was not embittered. He had the best of attitudes when his father assigned him to “deliver pizza” to his brothers. He rose early, and diligently made sure that in his absence his little flock would be cared for.

“Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. 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.”         (1 Samuel 17:21-23)

Had it not been for David’s diligence in rising and leaving home early, he would have missed this moment. Had he not passed the test of diligence, defeating the small imp of sloth, he would not have been given the honor of being tested in a grander arena and facing a much larger demon – GOLIATH! You did know that the reward for passing eighth grade tests is the opportunity to later be tested on ninth grade stuff, didn’t you? (As an aside, David’s catastrophic sin with Bathsheba twenty years later had as its forerunner the sin of sloth.)

“When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.”                                                                                                                                                (1 Samuel 17:24)

I believe that over the forty days Goliath had been taunting the Israelite troops, he had been foraying further and further into their camp. I think they were running from him because he was coming in so close. If this is the case, and I believe it is, it confirms something else: Goliath was quite LITERALLY covered with metal, right down to a face shield as part the “bronze helmet on his head.” Otherwise, one of the many Israelites archers would have put an arrow in his eye! They certainly had the motivation to do so with the reward offered by the king! This also fits two other themes I have found in this book:

1. The official god of the Philistines was Dagon, a demonic statue that was also covered with metal! Dagon had already suffered the fate that lay in store for Goliath: decapitation!

2. In a practical sense the god of the Philistines was their military might, which derived from their advanced technology – metal working. Remember First Samuel 13:19-20:

“Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened.”

The Philistine “Messiah” Goliath, in whom they trusted, was covered with their technological might, metal. King Saul, who had a Philistine heart, was very attached to his sword, his armor and particularly, his spear. Jonathan and David were marked by their tendency to give away their metal weapons. God used them mightily when they did. With the exception of one Davidic moment, Saul clung to his. Ultimately, he wound up falling on his own sword.

“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 father’s family from taxes in Israel.” 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?” They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” (1 SAM 17:25)

David confirmed every word in the mouths of at least two witnesses.

“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 desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (1 SAM 17:28)

David was completely innocent of every accusation. He had been ultimately faithful in every arena in which he was accused. But the Saul heart in Eliab was afraid and angry because of its very nature. Saul knew that the fleshly people enthusiastically hailed him as king partly because of his height. They wanted someone TALL to go out in front of them and fight their battles. At this point, when Goliath was asking for a volunteer to fight him, it was NO fun to be a TALL Israelite with a Saul heart!

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.” (1 SAM 17:29-30)

It is obvious that the giant killer did not fear Eliab; he turned away because he was confident in who he was, not because he was afraid.

“What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (1 SAM 17:31-32)

David’s shepherd heart caused him to immediately begin shepherding someone needing his help, even if it was the king, the official shepherd of Israel. Many of us are called to pastor our pastors, or father our fathers, and yet be effectively unaware that we are doing so. David had the utmost esteem and respect for Saul, even though he had reason to be tempted to resent him. This is part of what it means to be “after God’s heart.”

“Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” 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, 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. 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.” (1 SAM 17:33-36)

A David heart is humble; therefore David was not humiliated or embittered by being sent back, again and again, to the lowliest job in Israel: shepherding. Since he fully trusted God, he knew the details of his life were ordered by the Lord. Consequently, he was content in the place assigned to him … and he was able to be blessed by God in that position.

He knew that God had called him to be king, so he knew he couldn’t die till he fulfilled his assignment. When he had seen beasts attacking Jesse’s sheep, he in turn attacked the beasts. He fully believed God had placed him where he was, so God would surely enable him to do a good job there. Consider this in light of the fact that Jesse had probably been less than fair in his treatment of his youngest son. Yet, no place on earth could have better prepared David for his show down with Goliath. Alone with God in the sheep pastures, doing exploits against bears of resentment and lions of fear – and all without an ounce of vainglory because no one was watching – put him way ahead of all those guys that were up on that hill trying to pump one another up, “shouting the war cry.”

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 SAM 17:37)

In the first chapter of this book, Hannah, the original “David heart”, was blessed by Eli, the original “Saul heart.” Both she and David had to convince their respective “Sauls” of the rightness of their faith. When they were blessed by their “Sauls,” God honored the blessing in both cases. If you are at this moment in your life in some measure a “David,” know that it is a good thing to seek your “Saul’s” blessing.

“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 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.” (1 SAM 17:38-39)

The teenage David indulged the extremely tall Saul by trying on his prized equipment. It must have looked ridiculous on him. Saul, for his part, was having a semi-Davidic moment. He was touched by the simple faith and the pure heart of the shepherd boy. Surely Saul was convicted by his awareness that he was the most responsible, qualified, and equipped person to do what David was volunteering to do. The description of his effort to equip David in his own extra large armor has a real pathos about it. This is the only time he ever offered anyone any of his armaments other than the business end of a spear.

“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.” (1 SAM 17:40)

The beginning of the end for Saul was Gilgal where he in effect worshipped man at the altar of God. His course eventually carried him to full fledge torment by a demon of fear. Being in the presence of the pure worship of a David heart gave him an immediate deliverance, though it was both borrowed and temporary. The demonic spirit of the fear of men could not abide the Presence of the Spirit of the Love of God. David politely turned down Saul’s armor, and took up five stones, his staff, and his sling.

An altar is a place where trust is placed in God. In Old Testament times, an altar was generally constructed of unhewn stones. Wood was then piled onto it, (a staff is made of wood). Then an animal was placed on top, (a sling is made of leather, which is an animal skin). David was carrying an altar into battle! He had “worshipped” a demon out of Saul, and he was about to “worship” a demonic manifestation out of Israel! Contrast the forged metallic weapons of men, which must be mined out of the dark earth, heated, beaten, and shaped by man’s might, with the things only God can make: stones, wood, and animal skin!

“Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.” (1 SAM 17:41)

Goliath and his armor bearer were Satan’s answer to Jonathan and his armor bearer showing themselves to the Philistines in chapter 14. But when Jonathan attacked the detachment of Philistines, he put himself in front of his armor bearer. Goliath, however, hid behind his armor bearer.

He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. (1 SAM 17:42)

Ahh, …”he despised him.” A Saul heart always despises a David heart, and Goliath was a caricature of Saul. Saul’s daughter would later despise David, and her reward was barrenness, (2 Samuel 6:16-23). Goliath despised David, and it cost him his life!

“He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” (1 SAM 17:43-44)

Jonathan attacked a Philistine detachment without any strategy other than pure faith. David, by contrast, approached the giant with a strategy, and yet, this too was pure faith. He, like Jonathan, had his staff in one hand, and I believe he was shaking it menacingly at Goliath as though he were about to give him a good “whupping”! He was enraging and distracting the proud giant. He didn’t want him to notice that rolled up in his other hand was his sling, with its pocket outermost, ready to have a stone placed in it. He was trying to infuriate the giant, and make him so indignant that he would have to stop and look David over.

I believe when Goliath stopped to check out this obviously foolish child they had sent out to fight him, he raised his face shield, the thing that had protected him from Israelite missiles heretofore. And I believe that in the heat of his rage, he forgot to lower it again! Thus, Goliath was fooled into forgetting to cover his head fully. Saul had left himself uncovered on his last trip to Gilgal by his disobedience. And a scrawny old prophet had knocked a demon right out of Agag’s head into Saul’s own heart – using his own sword! I also believe that David was deliberately acting like a mentally defective person. You will see why later.

“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.” (1 SAM 17:45)

The …”sword and spear and javelin,” represented an unholy trinity of the real god of Philistia, their advanced metallurgy. “Lord Almighty, the God…” is the English rendering of three names for the Triune God: “Yahweh Saba Elohim.” David boiled the conflict down to its true essence!

“This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, 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.” As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.”
(1 SAM 17:46-48)

[With David in motion, it was hard for Goliath to see that he had dropped his staff, and …]

“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. 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. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” (1 SAM 17:49-51a)

The Divine Author emphasized that it wasn’t a sword that killed Goliath. He made it plain that it wasn’t Philistine technology, but a Jewish “altar stone” that killed the monster. At the same time, the giant’s sword was used to carve up his carcass. There was Divine poetic, prophetic justice in this. “The Philistine”, who was a caricature of Saul, had his javelin on his back and his sword still in its scabbard when he was killed. Therefore, we can deduce that Goliath was going to try to kill David with his spear. This was also the weapon of choice of Saul. And tragically, Saul hurled it at a David heart four times. By God’s grace, his aim was no better than the giant’s. Also, unlike most of the pictures you see painted of this legendary scene, the giant “fell facedown”. This was the same stance Dagon took before the Ark of the Covenant.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. (1 SAM 17:51b)

It seems that none of the Saul hearts kept their promises to David! Goliath had promised that if he was defeated, his army would surrender.

“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. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp. David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.” (1 SAM 17:52-54)

Jerusalem was, at this time, a fortress city under the control of the Jebusites. They were hostile to the Israelites, especially warriors carrying giant’s heads. Their watchmen would certainly have closed their gates when they saw David coming. Quite possibly, David, being as prophetic as he was, may have had inside information that one day Jerusalem would be his. Possibly he carried the head of Goliath to them as if to serve them notice, and say, “you’re next!!” If they wouldn’t let him in the city, maybe he threw the Philistine’s head down on a hill just outside the gates. Maybe they were superstitious and feared to move it. Maybe that hill became known as “the place of the skull.” Maybe… Maybe the demonic spirit in Goliath hated being tricked by David and his staff at Ephes Dammim. Maybe the same spirit that was in Goliath wanted to exact a particular kind of vengeance on David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ. A staff was thrust into the Son of Davids’ hands and then jerked back, and used to beat the crown of thorns down into His scalp. Maybe there is a connection here. Maybe …                          (Matthew 27:29-30)

In the last verses of this chapter the Divine Author wrote in something similar to an “instant replay” after the plunder of the Philistines. It lets us see what was happening with Saul as David attacked Goliath.

“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, O king, I don’t know.” The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.” 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. “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”
(1 SAM 17:55-58)

Saul had actually forgotten David’s name. He had “despised” him in the passive sense of the word. Heretofore, he really could not see David, for David did not rank in his economy of things. But we may be confident Saul found it a lot easier to remember the kid holding the fifty pound giant’s head!

Before we leave this wonderful chapter, let me point out something really neat God dropped in this passage: In chapter 16, David was anointed with oil in the presence of his father and of one prophet. Then he drove a demon out of Saul that no one else could handle. Then, in chapter 17 he ascertained, (twice), that his whole family would be free from taxation if he kills the giant.

In Matthew 17 Jesus was anointed with light in the presence of His Father and two prophets. Then He drove out a demon no one else could handle. Lastly, in this same chapter 17, Jesus ascertained that he didn’t really owe the temple tax. But, in His perfect humility, He conceded to pay it anyway.

God is amazing.