Morning Light – May 19th, 2015
Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Seventeen]: Heart of God – Head of the Giant. In this chapter Goliath, an 11 foot tall giant defies the armies of King Saul. Young David is sent to bring food to his brothers and sees the stand off. In David’s naiveté he cannot imagine anything but victory for the army of God. On the battlefield he is mocked by his brothers and set at naught by Saul himself but refuses to be discouraged. He takes his sling and a few stones and kills the giant that left all of Saul’s army paralyzed in fear. You have this heart on the inside of you. You have the heart of a giant slayer beating in your breast. Let David be an example to you in your own challenges.
[1Sa 17:1-58 KJV] 1 Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which [belongeth] to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and [there was] a valley between them. 4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height [was] six cubits and a span. 5 And [he had] an helmet of brass upon his head, and he [was] armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat [was] five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And [he had] greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear [was] like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head [weighed] six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set [your] battle in array? [am] not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. 12 Now David [was] the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name [was] Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men [for] an old man in the days of Saul. 13 And the three eldest sons of Jesse went [and] followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle [were] Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 And David [was] the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. 15 But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. 17 And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched [corn], and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; 18 And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of [their] thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. 19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, [were] in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
In the previous chapter we find young David is anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel. When Samuel’s horn of oil is poured out the Spirit of God departs from Saul in Gibeah and comes upon David. From that time Saul suffered mentally. The anointing of God is something that is IN you but also UPON you. It is connected with well being because Hebrew 1:9 speaks of God’s chosen king being anointed with the “oil of gladness”. We understand from this passage what happens when oil is used in prayer as in James 5:14 regarding prayer for the sick. Oil when poured out invokes the presence of God. Therefore when the Spirit of God leaves Saul and goes to David because of the anointing the result is that Saul suffers emotionally. It seems that Saul finds relief in music and David has a reputation in this area and is brought to King Saul to play before him and be his armor bearer. This gives Saul relief until now in this chapter Saul has to rise up out of his miserable state and go to face a new threat from the Philistines.
When Saul goes with the army out to the Philistines David is not yet of military age. He is the youngest of 8 and all but the 3 eldest sons of Jesse are allowed to join Saul in the battle which gives us an idea that David at his oldest couldn’t have been much older than 15 or 16 years of age.
The two armies face each other at Shochoh which was in the territory of Judah. Every day for 40 days the Philistines send out a man named Goliath to taunt them into a contest. Goliath according to the passage is over 11 feet high. In the modern time since such records have been kept – the tallest man ever was Robert Wadlow (b. 1918 d. 1940) who was 8 ft. 11 in. tall. All modern and most ancient scholarship rejects the dimensions of Goliath as mentioned in this passage. It is of note that manuscripts from the first century make Goliath 9 feet tall whereas most modern scholarship suggest that Goliath if he existed at all was not more than 6’ 9”.
There are other interesting suggestions in ancient texts regarding Goliath. A manuscript dating from the early middle ages suggests that David and Goliath were cousins (that David is descended from Ruth and Goliath was descended from Orphah, her sister-in-law who returned to Moab).
In verse 17 Jesse sends David to bring food to his brothers in the army. The wording in the passage regarding David is curious because it is framed as though David is unknown but the previous chapter states that he was Saul’s armor bearer (an honorary title in Saul’s court obviously because David was sent home when actual battle was at hand). Textual commentators refute the passage because of this as a contradiction in the bible but remember that Saul was mentally disturbed and it is very possible that in his deranged state he didn’t recognize David at all.
21 For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. 22 And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. 23 And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard [them]. 24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, [that] the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel. 26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who [is] this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? 27 And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. 28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 29 And David said, What have I now done? [Is there] not a cause? 30 And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. 31 And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed [them] before Saul: and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. 33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou [art but] a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. 34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered [it] out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught [him] by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. 38 And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved [it]. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved [them]. And David put them off him.
David arrives with food for his brothers and sees the stand off between the two armies. It is surprising to him because as a boy and being young and naïve David cannot imagine anything but victory for the armies of Israel. He inquires into the situation and his brothers rebuke him and question character. Many times when you point out the obvious you are going to be criticized by those who refuse to do anything about the problem that may be before them. David was a man after God’s own heart but when looked at by his brothers they saw exactly the opposite. They know the prophecy of Samuel over David and it irked them and caused them to despise David. Don’t expect those close to you to accept what God says about you even through a great prophet like Samuel. David doesn’t yield to the temptation to argue – he simply looks at his brother Eliab and says “is there not a cause?” His brothers wanted to shut him up and send him scurrying home but David turns away and keeps asking what would be the reward for killing Goliath. There are times that men and women of greater experience that you will not appreciate your presence or your input into challenges at hand. You cannot allow yourself to be drawn into a war of words when the real battle is being neglected. Neither are you required to defer to those who are a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. Keep pressing in.
David is questioned by Saul and in giving his answer he doesn’t resort to theology or ancient history. David has a contemporary history of victory in conquering the lions and bears that he protected his father’s flocks from. We can look to the word of God for courage but don’t forget to look at the Lord’s faithfulness to you in your own personal history. In David’s mind Goliath was no different. In thinking of Goliath as he did the predators that came against his father’s sheep he is also thinking of the army around him as his flock. He is acting as a king even though there is no crown upon his head. He is conducting himself as Saul should be but isn’t. What is Saul’s response? He gives David his armor. Why would he do this? Perhaps he wanted what happened next to be attributed to him as he had done with his son Jonathan’s conquests – claiming the victory for himself. He is willing for David to risk his life but only if he gets to take the credit. This is a characteristic of a Saul leadership – a Saul leader will let you take all the responsibility and do all the work as long as you do things their way and give all the credit to them for a positive outcome and take the blame for any failures.
40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling [was] in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield [went] before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was [but] a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. 43 And the Philistine said unto David, [Am] I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. 45 Then said David to the Philistine, 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. 46 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. 47 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. 48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang [it], and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but [there was] no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. 53 And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent. 55 And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son [is] this youth? And Abner said, [As] thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. 56 And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling [is]. 57 And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, Whose son [art] thou, [thou] young man? And David answered, I [am] the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.
David rejects Saul’s armor and relies on what he knows and is familiar with. In seeking to fulfill your destiny in God rely on what is familiar to you. In 1 John we are exhorted to tell what we have seen and what we have heard. Remember your life is a living epistle. If you don’t read and rely on what God writes into your own life why would anyone else be at all interested in what you have to say? Take the testimony of God in your life and rely on it to overcome the obstacles before you. Saul’s armor – someone else’s solutions will never afford you victory. Jewish sources from the second century say that David took these stones and wrote upon them the names of his fathers, the name of the king and the name of God.
Goliath mocks David and David responds with a declaration of God as His vanguard. Goliath couldn’t possibly have understood this. In modern settings we often feel the need to explain ourselves and make ourselves plain to the uninitiated. It isn’t necessary. You never have to explain what you are about to demonstrate. David tells Goliath what will happen before it happens. When he approaches Goliath he isn’t hiding behind every rock and tree. He runs to Goliath. There are times you will be challenged that the answer is not to hide but to expose yourself to the risk and dare the enemy to do his worst. David knew that when Goliath did his worst God was going to do His best. The result was Goliath’s destruction and victory for the armies of Israel.
Notice the disdain the Saul has for what David has done. “Who is this stripling?” He asks. “Who is your daddy little boy” he asks. In the first verse of the following chapter we see that Jonathan was looking on when his father Saul disdains the young champion David. Jonathan’s soul is knit to David’s in that moment because he recognizes the anointing on David that at one time had rested upon his own father.
David was a man after God’s own heart. He lived in a graceful naiveté that simply expected God to be God in every situation. He was unwilling to grow up into the jaded skepticism of those with more experience than he. He would not yield to criticism. He was not offended when slighted by those who should have been thankful for what he had done. He was willing to make fast friends of those closest to his enemies. He has the heart of God – let us all aspire to have that same heart in ourselves.
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