Remember how God led the Israelites to conquer the city of Jericho. During the rest of Joshua’s life, he led the Israelites to conquer most of the Promised Land. After Joshua died, God ruled Israel through the Judges. After many years, the people demanded that they have a king like all the other nations around them. Though God did not agree with them, He gave them Saul who was a weak leader. While Saul was still a king, the prophet Samuel anointed David to be the next king. Today’s bible study comes from the book of Numbers. 1 Samuel 17.
Let’s start the story by drawing the battle lines. There were two hills with a valley separating them. The Philistines occupied one hill. They camped at a spot between Sokoh (now referred to as Socoh) and Azekah.
The Israelites occupied the other hill. Saul and the Israelite forces camped in the valley of Elah. (1 Samuel 17:1-3)
Now out of the Philistines was this huge man named Goliath. This soldier stood just a bit taller than nine feet (9.75’). He carried spear shaft which the iron point weighed almost nineteen pounds. He taunted the Israelites by issuing a challenge where one Israelite would fight the monster. The person who lost the fight, that side would surrender to the winning side. (1 Samuel 17:4-10)
The Israelites were dismayed and terrified hearing these words from Goliath. Now David the youngest of the family was shuttling back and forth from the war to tend to his father who was old. This continued for forty days. (1 Samuel 17:11, 1 Samuel 17:16)
It appears that the Israelite soldiers were saying whomever killed Goliath would gain great favor and wealth from the king. He would receive the King’s daughter in marriage and his family would be exempt from taxes. (1 Samuel 17:25)
It was this trip back checking on his brothers that David heard Goliath issue the ultimatum and Israelites stating what he would get if he were to win. David responded to the Israelite soldiers wanting to know what does the man that removes the disgrace by killing Goliath receive and the soldiers responded that what they were saying just as he was arriving. (1Samuel 17:26-27)
David then approached Saul. Saul was not convinced to allow David to go as he was young with limited experience going up against a bigger man with many years of experience. David told Saul that he had been tending his father’s sheep and when a lion or a fox stole one of his sheep he would hunt it down and kill the lion or the fox. Goliath was just a lion and he would kill him. Saul gave him permission to go. (1 Samuel 17:32-37)
Saul prepared David with the armament of a soldier. David tried them out and decided he could not wear those as he was not use to those. Instead he decided to use his staff, his sling, and five smooth pebbles from the stream. (1 Samuel 17:38-40)
David heads off to fight the Goliath. David and the Philistine have words, but David doesn’t back down but instead tells Goliath. “Come at me with sword, spear and javelin and I come at you in the name of the Lord Almighty God. He continues that today he was going to not only kill him but cut off the big guy’s head and feed him to the birds and wild animals. When I am done it will be known that there is a God in Israel.”
As they approached the battle line, Goliath with weapons ready, and David hastily grabbed a pebble and using the sling sank the pebble into the middle of Goliath’s head. He tumbled and fell to the ground. He took the Philistine sword from its sheath, killed Goliath and cut off his head. The Philistine took off running. (1 Samuel 17:40-51)
David had killed Goliath leaving the threat of the Philistines mute. The Israelites then pursued the Philistines an unknown distance to Gath leaving dead bodies along the way. They returned they stole things of value from their camp.
Questions to be answered:
- What did we learn about God in this story?
- What do we learn about man/ourselves in this story?
- What did you learn new in this story?
- What should I do differently because of this story?
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