Call to Worship August 8 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 17:1-26

Correct context of a scriptural scene creates a proper perception of the whole scenario. Some would say Goliath was one “mean hombre,” or a “brutish beast.” He was over nine feet tall, three feet taller than the average N.B.A. player.[1] He wore body armor that weighed 125 pounds or so, as much as a good sized middle school boy. The head of his spear weighed in at about 16 pounds.[2] Not to mention his bronze helmet! Can you envision the size of that thing? So you could imagine with his stature and warrior gear he imbued instant attention. No wonder the Israelites stood back in fear after hearing his jeering call to come out and fight. It was like a nine foot tall linebacker calling out a bunch of average sized high school running backs. Wheaties was definitely not the answer!

The greatest problem with Goliath was not his size. It was his mouth, which only spoke from his heart. He was truly a savage scofflaw. He was not simply taunting some other men, but was calling out the armies of the living God (vs. 26). Essentially he scoffed at God by saying there is no one among God’s people who could defeat him. So that meant that Israel’s God could not save them from the wrath of Goliath of Gath. Goliath set himself up as one who had the final say concerning life for Israel. Yes, he was a henchman of the Philistines and he dared to call out the God of Israel. 

Goliath descended from a long line of haters. He probably descended from the Rephaim or Anakim, which were tribal peoples known for their tall and large build.[3] Israel dealt with these giants over centuries even into the time of Joshua. Eventually, he was God’s servant to drive the Anakim from Judah into the land of the Philistines to Ashdod and Gath.[4] There Goliath would be raised in a Philistine culture of idolatry. The Philistines were long enemies of Israel. They had raided Israeli camps and cities for centuries. Before the time of Saul they stole the Ark of the Covenant, only to find their statuesque idol Dagon struggled to keep his head about him in the presence of the one living LORD. Although the Philistines and Goliath are real historical people, their heritage and sinful symbolism captures the greater scene in 1 Samuel 17.

At this point the scripture reminds believers that sin is not only pervasive, but it is perpetual in human hearts. The Philistines knew Dagon did not withstand the LORD, but they thought their human giant could defeat Him. Goliath had no idea who he was trifling with and the Philistines had forgotten proper fear for the LORD God of Israel. The follies of sin are real, misleading and downright irrational, but man keeps on calling God out. Mankind reproduces its giants in every century or generation, i.e. political/governmental structures, enlightenment thinking, and evolutionary hypotheses. 

Recognize that the theme of this chapter revolves around the God of Israel and His power, not simply David’s ability to overcome. “If we don’t listen to this text,” according to D.R. Davis, “then we’ll end up bringing in all the junk about being courageous in the face of your ‘Goliaths’…not where a narrative talks about Yahweh [the LORD] – that is liable to be where the account falls.”[5] Whatever courage, ability, thoughtfulness or determination that David possessed was from the LORD. God is the one who will ultimately defeat the sinful generational giants accosting His people. It is true He will use different means by providence, but we must never forget His predetermined sovereignty in all that occurs and His power to sustain His purpose and will. 

As you read this text remember God is working in all of the occurrences of life. Goliath thought he was mighty. He thought his fearful presence and voice would conquer Israel. He acted as though no one made him, or had authority over him. This is the prevailing mentality of this world of darkness. God revealed once again, through David, that He is creator, sustainer, provider and protector of His people. God’s power and glory must not escape our thinking as “Goliath” stands ridiculing God and His people. Soli Deo Gloria!      


[2] The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 2, ed. Merrill C. Tenney, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI., 1975-76.), 774.

[3] Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, ed. C.F. Pfeiffer, H.F. Vos, John Rea, (Hendrickson Pub., Peabody, MA., 2001.), 708, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Part 2, (I.V.P., England, 1998.), 577. A search of scripture regarding these people groups gives indication to the credibility of this statement. (Deut. 2:20-21)

[4] Numbers 13:33, Joshua 11:22

[5] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), 179.