Unit: History of Israel (1 Samuel & 1 Chronicles)
Theme: A New King
Lesson Text: 1 Samuel 16:7; 17:32-50
Supplemental Texts: 1 Samuel 13:13-14; Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Psalm 26:1-3; Acts 13:22; Philippians 1:20
Aim: Take courage, knowing the battle is the Lord’s.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_May16_2021
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By Mark Scott
King Saul had gone AWOL (1 Samuel 13 and 15). Israel desperately needed a new king. But anointing one would be risky for Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). It would need to be done under the radar. Two events would propel David forward so the nation could begin to emotionally embrace him as their new king—attending to Saul by calming the king with his music (1 Samuel 16:14-23) and fighting Goliath the giant (1 Samuel 17). (The order of these events is debated—cf. 1 Samuel 17:55-58.)
A Track Record of Courage
1 Samuel 16:7; 17:32-37
Samuel made it safely to Jesse’s place in Bethlehem. The parade of potential kings began. How about Eliab the eldest? What about Abinadab or Shammah or the other brothers? God made it clear to Samuel that God’s choice differed from man’s choice. Humans consider appearance (countenance) or height. But God puts a tape measure around a leader’s heart—the center of the inner person.
The battle line was drawn between Israel and the Philistines. Goliath taunted Israel twice per day for 40 days, and the Israelites shook in their sandals. Jesse sent David on a food run to his brothers who were in Saul’s army. David witnessed the intimidation and asked what would be done for the person who “removes this disgrace from Israel” (1 Samuel 17:26). Eliab was angry at David’s presumption, but David pressed forward to volunteer. He did not want anyone in Israel to lose heart. Even Saul objected. David was just a young man (boy).
But David cited his successes. As a good shepherd, David had rescued (delivered) his father’s sheep when they were being attacked by a lion or a bear. If need be, he would seize it by its hair . . . and kill it. David was willing to fight this uncircumcised Philistine. Goliath had defied (upbraided or blasphemed—a key term in this whole narrative) Israel. David knew the veracity of God’s name was at stake. Saul was impressed with his courage and gave him permission.
An Armor of Heart
1 Samuel 17:38-40
Saul outfitted David with his own armor for protection and victory. It was ill-fitting and too stiff. David was not used to them—maybe actually better rendered “he had not tested them” (English Standard Version). David had something better than Saul’s tunic. He had the armor of his heart.
Seemingly unprepared and with minimal resources (cf. Matthew 10:9-10), David headed into the Valley of Elah to confront Goliath—a mass of a man and an experienced soldier with impressive armor. David had only a shepherd’s staff, five smooth stones he had picked up at the stream in the valley, his shepherd’s bag, and his sling. David used unconventional weapons (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The Defense of God’s Honor
1 Samuel 17:41-50
Goliath was not impressed. He sized David “down” and felt mocked by being made to fight a boy, glowing with health (ruddy or red) and handsome. Goliath despised (regarded with contempt) David and called him a dog (probably just a metaphor emphasizing his small size but possibly a reference to a boy cult prostitute, as it is used at times in the Old Testament). Goliath cursed David and intended to kill him.
David answered the giant’s taunts by defending God’s honor. Sword, spear, and javelin are puny in the face of the Lord Almighty (Lord of hosts). David predicted what he would do to Goliath—strike him down, cut off his head, and give the giant’s carcass to the birds and beasts. David believed this would make the whole world acknowledge that there is a God in Israel.
David ran toward Goliath and did as he promised. David triumphed over the Philistine. He defeated the giant with a sling and a stone. He even took Goliath’s own sword and cut the giant’s head off. Israel pursued the Philistines into their fortified cities.
It is tempting to spiritualize the story (i.e., assign meaning the author did not intend) by talking about how God helps us defeat the giants in our lives. Those lessons will get a hearing, but our Jewish forefathers probably would be surprised at such applications. It is more than a story about the underdog winning. It is even more than Israel identifying its new king. More likely, it is a story about God’s promise to save the world not being compromised and the messianic line being preserved near the “house of bread” where, one day, the Good Shepherd will protect all of his sheep (Genesis 12:1-3; Luke 2:1-7; John 10:7-15).