Study Guide

1 Samuel Chapter 17

Chapter 17

David the Giant Killer

  • The Philistines and the Israelites prepare for more battle.
  • Before the fight, the Philistine champion, Goliath, steps forward.
  • According to the story, Goliath is, well, a giant. The Hebrew translation says Goliath was 9ft 6in whereas the Greek text says he was 6ft 9in. Either way, Goliath was a tall man in his day.
  • Goliath proposes a battle of champions—one will represent the Philistines and one the Israelites. The loser's side will become servants to the winners. This challenge was pretty typical because it saved manpower and the big boys got to prove themselves (1-11).
  • Goliath repeated this challenge for 40 days (Bible speak for long time). Everyone was too afraid (and rightly so) to take his challenge.
  • David hears of the challenge and after some debate with his brothers and Saul, accepts the giant's offer. When Saul questions David's skill, David quickly shoots him down, letting him know he's killed a lion and a bear while shepherding.
  • This shuts Saul up and David is quickly strapped in Saul's armor.
  • Except David decides he doesn't need armor and goes out to face the giant armed with a staff and a sling (12-39). This can't be good.
  • When David goes out to meet Goliath, the giant thinks it's a joke. They exchange some trash talk, with Goliath saying, "I'll feed your corpse to the birds and beasts!" That cuts deep back then, you'll have to take our word on it.
  • David responds with a "oh yeah? Well I'm going to chop off your head!" kind of thing, which enrages Goliath so much, he removes his helmet, drops his shield and charges at David.
  • The boy shepherd, who has been hiding his sling the whole time, whips a smooth stone straight into Goliath's temple.
  • The giant falls face down on the ground dead. David runs over to the body, takes Goliath's sword and chops off his head, lifting it for the Philistine army to see. They become so terrified their champion was taken down that they run away (40-54).
  • David returns to Saul, but the king does not recognize David. He asks his aide, Abner, who David is. Though we don't have any solid answers for this, biblical scholars believe that there were many stories associated with David's rise to power and biblical authors attempted to mesh the stories together. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it's not. We think that Saul is just a little nutso (55-58).

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