“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. For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. 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. 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. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. 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. 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?” (1 Samuel 17:20-26).
The first statement of our text tells us something of David’s character. Instead of rushing off to the battlefront, he made sure that the sheep under his care would be managed by another capable person while he was away. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10). Though David was not perfect, a fact all too evident with regards to his sin regarding Bathsheba, he did rule Israel responsibly throughout his reign.
Money for your life
David obeyed his father’s command to the letter and arrives as the camp just as the army were shouting about what they were going to do to the Philistines. To an observer like David, the army sounded as though they were all fired-up, zealous and eager to go into battle, but that was far from the truth. Both armies faced each other across the valley, but as soon as Goliath appeared Israel, despite the bravado, ran for their lives in fear.
King Saul was also too frightened to go out against Goliath, so he promised to pay a rich reward to anyone who would. It is likely that he knew that he would never have to pay out, because the man would be brought back dead. No one was brave, or foolish, enough to take up his offer. Saul may as well promised the kingdom to someone willing to face the giant, for no-one stepped forward.
See how they run
David “ran” into the camp to greet his brothers. This reveals a remarkable fearlessness on his part. He obviously heard the chanting and threats coming from the Israelite army, so when he saw them running from the battle, it must have been bewildering to him. David ran in faith, but they ran in fear. How many believers in our own day stop running for the Lord, but are found dashing headlong into destruction! “One Philistine could never thus have chased 1000 Israelites, and put 10,000 to flight, unless their Rock, being treacherously forsaken by them, had justly sold them, and shut them up” (Matthew Henry). “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30). “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7).
David could not understand why the soldiers were not jumping to the chance of receiving a rich reward. His faith is revealed here, for he believed that Goliath will be defeated by someone who was willing to trust in God and take up the challenge. With the giants insults and blasphemies ringing in his ears, he asks, just to make sure if he heard right, to be told again about the reward. It was true; the one who killed Goliath would receive a giant reward. Goliath was defeated the moment he stepped on holy ground. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
David, with righteous indignation, questions Israel’s well-trained army about what they were going to do to stop the pagan Philistine from insulting God and His people further. They must have felt really small as the shepherd boy tried to encourage their faith. The very first words spoken by David in the Bible highlight the fact that he truly loved and served the Living God.
David saw that the giant was only a midget in the sight of the Creator. He is not intimidated by an oversized and overstuffed infidel when God was with him. In David’s mind, no-one had the right to cast insults upon the Lord. He believed that Israel was fighting in defence of God’s honour, therefore victory was secured. He also pointed to the fact that, as God’s army, they were serving Him rather than Saul, so in reality the king’s bribe should be of no consequence.
David’s first recorded words are anointed and inspired. Maybe both King Saul and his men were taken aback by such wise words from someone so young, but they should not have been. David’s reputation included the fact that he was “prudent in matters” (1 Samuel 16:18). With such faith in and love for God, a giant double the size of Goliath could not have stood before David. But it was not the power of David’s faith that would win the day, instead it would be by the power of the God he trusted in. Faith in itself is useless, but faith in the living God, who can move mountains, is unquantifiable. “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done” (Matthew 21:21). When believers are concerned about God’s glory and honour, they are likely to do great things for Him.