1 Samuel 17:36
Your servant has killed lions and bears; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God."
Three Victories in One DayB. Dale 1 Samuel 17:29, 37-39, 45-47
Faith's Argument from ExperienceB. Dale 1 Samuel 17:32-37
How May the Well-Discharge of Our Present Duty Give Us Assurance of Help from God for the Well-Discharge of All Future Duties1 Samuel 17:36-37
The Lion and the BearS. Baring Gould, M. A.1 Samuel 17:36-37
The Lion and the Bear: Trophies Hung UpSpurgeon, Charles Haddon1 Samuel 17:36-37
The Lion-Slayer -- the Giant-KillerSpurgeon, Charles Haddon1 Samuel 17:36-37
1 Samuel 17:32-37. (THE VALLEY OF ELAH.)
He will deliver me out of the hand of the Philistine (ver. 37). Many things tend to hinder the exercise and work of faith. Some of them arise from the heart itself. Others arise from the speech and conduct of other people. Such was the scornful reproach cast upon David by his eldest brother, and such the cold distrust with which he was at first regarded by Saul. But as he had doubtless overcome his own tendency to unbelief by recalling what God had done, so now by the same means he overcame the unbelief of the king, and excited his confidence and hope. "Let no man's heart fail," etc. (ver. 32). "Thou art not able," etc. (ver. 33). But "there was that in the language of this youth which recalled the strength of Israel, which seemed like the dawn of another morning, like the voice from another world" (Edersheim). "And Saul said unto David, Go, and Jehovah be with thee" (ver. 37); thus displaying one of the best features of character he possessed after his rejection. We have here -

I. AN EXPERIENCE of great deliverances.

1. Consisting of accomplished facts. "Thy servant kept his father's sheep," etc. (vers. 34, 35). They were not imaginary, but real events.

2. Occurring in personal history, and therefore the more certain and deeply impressed on the mind. How full is every individual life of instructive providential occurrences, if we will but observe them.

3. Wrought by a Divine hand. "The Lord that delivered me," etc. (ver. 37). Where unbelief perceives nothing but chance and good fortune a devout spirit sees "him who is invisible;" and the extraordinary success which the former attributes to man the latter ascribes to God.

4. Treasured up in a grateful memory. "Therefore will I remember thee," etc. (Psalm 42:6; Psalm 77:10, 11). Experience is the collection of many particulars registered in the memory."

II. AN ARGUMENT for strong confidence. The argument -

1. Rests upon the unchangeableness of God, and the uniform method of his dealings. "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent" (1 Samuel 16:29). Hence every instance of his help is an instruction and a promise, inasmuch as it shows the manner in which lie affords his aid, and gives assurance of it under like conditions. "Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice" (Psalm 63:7; Psalm 27:9). "This was a favourite argument with David. He was fond of inferring future interpositions from past. And the argument is good, if used cautiously and with just discrimination. It is always good if justly applied. The difficulty is in such application. The unchangeable God will always do the same things in the same circumstances. If we can be certain that cases are alike we may expect a repetition of his conduct" (A.J. Morris).

2. Recognises similarity between the circumstances in which Divine help has been received and those in which it is expected, viz,

(1) in the path of duty;

(2) in conflict with an imposing, powerful, and cruel adversary;

(3) in a state of perilous need;

(4) in the exercise of simple trust;

(5) in the use of appropriate means;

(6) and in seeking the honour of God.

When there is so close a resemblance the argument is readily applied, and its conclusion irresistible.

3. Regards the help formerly received as a pledge of personal favour, and an encouragement to expect not only continued, but still greater, benefits from him whose power and love are measureless. "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work," etc. (2 Timothy 4:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 1:10).

"Man's plea to man is that he never more
Will beg, and that he never begged before:
Man's plea to God is that he did obtain
A former suit, and therefore sues again.
How good a God we serve, that, when we sue,
Makes his old gifts the examples of his new"


4. Is confirmed in practice as often as it is faithfully tested, and increases in force, depth, and breadth with every fresh experience of Divine help. "Oh, were we but acquainted with this kind of reasoning with God, how undaunted we should be in all troubles! We should be as secure in time to come as for the time past; for all is one with God. We do exceedingly wrong our own souls and weaken our faith by not minding God's favours. How strong in faith might old men be that have had many experiences of God's love if they would take this course! Every former mercy should strengthen our faith for a new, as conquerors whom every former victory encourageth to a new conquest" (Sibbes, 'Works,' 1:320). - D.

Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear.
David's first battles were with a lion and a bear. His next with the Philistine Goliath, and after that with many enemies, with the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, the Edomites, and others. It seems to me that you have two enemies to contend with in your youth — violence and bearishness. Until you have conquered these you will not have proved your. selves worthy to go against greater foes.

1. Violence of temper is the lion with which you have to fight. Angry passions are the first passions that assail you. Anger is natural; and in itself is not wrong. But it is sinful when it masters you. When a lion is in a cage, and allowed no opportunity of tearing and killing, you do not fear him, but when he breaks out of the cage, then everyone takes to flight. Anger is not wrong when the cause is just, the feeling moderate, and the desire of punishment proportioned to the offence.

2. The other enemy you have to contend with is Bearishness. The greatest charm in a boy is politeness, or civility; and this is not so often met with as one could wish. Boys and girls are now allowed so much liberty, that they behave as if they owed no consideration, respect, or deference, to their elders and betters. It used to be said that bears never allowed their cubs to be seen out of the cave in which they were born until they had licked them into shape, for infant bear cubs were misformed hideous little beasts, but the mother by pains and constant licking got them into something like shape. I am afraid that too many little human bear cubs are allowed out before they are licked into shape. Now what is the cause of bearishness? of cubbishness? It is thought of self. The boy or girl whose mind is fixed on self is sure not to have thought of the wants and wishes of others, and to be without the respect due to others. In the upper classes of society it would be thought so disgraceful for ladies and gentlemen to turn out bear cubs into the world, that they are obliged to lick them into shape, and make them learn "manners." They put on manners as they put on their clothes. But it would be much better if the Bear were killed, instead of being hidden in a cupboard. It too often happens with those who have been taught to be polite and courteous, without being taught also to conquer the evil principle which lies at the root of cubbishness, that on occasions the bad beast breaks out, bursts through all restraints, and then we see that gentle manner was put on, and is not real. The bear is in the cupboard and hidden, but it is alive and impatient of restraint, and takes the first opportunity to show itself selfishness is the mother of bearishness. If the lion is feared the bear is loathed And the bearish child is a most offensive child, and grows up into a most offensive man or woman. Bearishness is exactly the reverse of what should be the character of a Christian. The Christian religion softens, and refines, it teaches all to be kindly to one another, to love as brethren, to be pitiful and courteous.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

We shall see what made David so calm and self-possessed as to venture where nobody else would venture, and take up the gauntlet and dare to be the champion of the living God.


1. The confidence of David was grounded upon his own personal experience.

2. You will notice that in his confidence there is a blending of the human with the Divine. Observe: "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them": — That is the human. "David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out, of the paw of the hear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine": — That is the Divine side of it. Work for God with all your might, as if you did it all; but then always remember that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." How is that Philistine to be killed? "By God," says one. True; but not without David. "By David," says another. Yes, but not without God. Put the Lord on the march with David, and you put the Philistines into untimely graves.

3. I want you to notice in David's confidence that he had go practically observed the service of the human side that he speaks of it first. If you did work valiantly by the help of the Spirit of God, you did do it, and should not refuse to say so. How are you to glorify God by denying the fruit of His Spirit? It is the glory of God that He led you to holy labour, and helped you in it.

4. Although David thus speaks of the human first, yet be speaks of the Divine most.

5. Now I want to go a little further, and show that David's confidence rested mainly in the immutability of God, the Divine Worker.

6. This leads me to observe that David's confidence also proceeded upon his firm conviction that, the immutable God being with him, he himself would be sufficient for the present emergency.


( C. H. Spurgeon.)

What was the pith of David's argument? What were the five smooth stones which he threw at the head of carnal reasoning?

I. RECOLLECTIONS. Now, what did David recollect, for I want you to remember the same?

1. He recollected, first, that, whatever his present trial might be, he had been tried before, tried when he was but a young man, peacefully employed in keeping his flocks.

2. He remembered, too, that he had been tried frequently. He had been not only attacked by a lion, but also by a bear.

3. David recollected that he had risked all in the prosecution of his duty.

4. He remembered that he had on that occasion gone alone to the fray.

5. David also recollected that on that occasion when he smote the lion and the bear he had nothing visible to rely upon, but simply trusted his God.

6. David recollected also that the tactics which he adopted on that occasion were natural, artless, and vigorous.

7. David remembered that by confidence in God his energetic fighting gained the victory.

II. Now for REASONINGS. David used an argument in which no flaw can be found. He said "The case of this Philistine is a parallel one to that of the lion. If I act in the same manner by faith in God with this giant as I did with the lion, God is the same, and therefore the result will be the same." That seems to me to be very clear reasoning, and I bid you adopt it. Let us now consider the case, and we shall see that it really was parallel. There was the flock, defenceless; here was Israel, God's flock, defenceless, too, with no one to take up its cause. He was alone that day when he smote the lion, and so he was this day when he was to confront his enormous foe. As for that, Philistine, he felt that in him he had an antagonist of the old sort. It was brute force before, it was brute force now: it might take the shape of a lion or a bear or a Philistine, but David considered that it was only so much flesh and bone and muscle, so much brag or roar, tooth or spear The whole argument is this, in the one case by such tactics we have been successful, trusting in God, and therefore in a similar case we have only to do the same, and we shall realise the same victory, I know a man who today says, "Yes, what we did in years gone by we did in our heroic age, but we are not, so enthusiastic now." And why not? We are so apt to magnify our former selves, and think of our early deeds as of something to be wondered at, but not to be attempted now. Fools that we are! They were little enough in all conscience, and ought to be outdone. This resting on our oars will not do, we are drifting down with the tide. David did not say, "I slew a lion and a bear, I have had my turn at such bouts, let somebody else go and fight that Philistine:" yet we have heard people say, "When I was a young man I taught in the Sunday school, I used to go out preaching in the villages, and so on." Oh, and why not do it now? Methinks you ought to be doing more instead of less.

III. The last thing is RESULTS. The results were:

1. David felt he would, as he did before, rely upon God alone.

2. David resolved again to run all risks once more, as he had done before.

3. David's next step was to put himself into the same condition as on former occasions, by divesting himself of everything that hampered him. The ultimate result was that the young champion came back with Goliath's head in his hand, and equally sure triumphs await every one of you if you rely on the Lord, and act in simple earnestness.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

This question hath two parts in it, and cannot be so well grounded upon a single text; therefore I shall name three or four, namely, 1 Samuel 17:34-37; Psalm 27:14; Proverbs 10:29; 2 Chronicles 15:2. I name these several scriptures as so many proofs of the truth of the point, that it is a case very agreeable to the Scriptures and to the analogy of faith.


1. What "duty" is, in the general nature and notion of it. It is an act of obedience to the will of our superiors. Duty is that which is due from man to God: it is "justice toward God."

2. Something is our present duty. God hath filled up all our time with duty: not one moment left at our own disposal.

3. Nothing that is sinful and in itself unlawful can be our duty at any time; and therefore, to be sure, not our present duty.

4. Every thing that is in itself lawful is not therefore our duty. "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient." (1 Corinthians 6:12.)

5. Everything that is commanded, and is in its time and place our duty, may not be our present duty. Affirmatives bind "always;" that is, we can never be discharged from that obligation that lies upon us to worship God: but we are not bound "at all times" to the outward acts of worship; for then we should do nothing else.

6. That which God now requires of you, and in doing of which you may most glorify God and edify your neighbour — that is undoubtedly your present duty. "How shall we know this?" Always look within your calling for your present, duty; for there it lies. General: As we are Christians, so all saints are of the same calling: "Called to be saints." (Romans 1:7.) Particular: So we differ in our callings. Some are called to the magistracy, some to the ministry; some are masters, some servants; some called to this, some to that, trade or occupation. Much of the duties of our Christian calling do follow us into our particular callings. As duties of worship must be performed in our families every day, let our particular calling be what it will; so the same graces must be exercised in our particular callings, which were required in our general callings: the same graces do follow us into our particular callings and into all the works of our hands. You see, your present duty lies in your present work, in the daily business of your particular callings. Herein lies the nature of all practical holiness — to do everything after a godly sort. The directions I give you relate only to the religious manner of doing what you do; though it is God that "instructs you to discretion" in all worldly business. (Isaiah 28:26.) Whatever your skill and insight is in your calling, prayer may make you wiser: you may obtain a more excellent spirit in your way than you now have, if you seek it of God. (Exodus 35:31-33.) Though you are left to the use of your reason as men, yet faith must go along with it as you are Christians. Therefore I shall show you how to put forth an act of reason in faith How may we know when reason and faith go together? 1 When, at our entrance upon any business, we seek wisdom and understanding from God, stirring up our reason by our faith, looking up to Him from whom "cometh every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17) that He would "instruct us unto discretion."

2. When, in answer to faith and prayer, thoughts do come in that clear up our way to us, and do put us into a right method, pointing out such probable means, inclining to such apposite counsel, as in a rational way tend to the expediting of that business which we are about.

3. When, under the greatest assurances of our own reason, we yet live in a humble dependence upon God for success. He puts forth an act of reason in faith, who trusts to God, and not to his own reason. It is our duty to make use of it as men, though as Christians we ought not to trust in it.

(1)Consider present Providences.

(2)Consult thy conscience.

(3)Consider what present temptation thou art under.

(4)Consult with the word of God.

(5)Devote thyself in sincerity to the fear of God, through the whole course of thy life.But what if, after all this, it should so fall out that two duties should press upon my conscience for present performance, and! cannot either by reason or Scripture, determine which to do first, but do hang in suspense, "am in a strait betwixt two?" (Philippians 1:23.) This is hardly to be supposed: but, admit it to be thy case, according to thy present judgment; then

1. Sit down once more, and consider.

2. If of two duties you cannot resolve which is most your duty at present, then resolve upon both, and begin where you will. God will not be extreme in that case. Do one, and leave not the other undone, but be sure to find time for that also.

3. Beg of God to resolve thee. "O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!" (Psalm 119:5.) "Shall I go up to Hebron? or shall I not?" (2 Samuel 2:1.) God will "teach" thee what to do. (Psalm 25:12) "He shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5, 6.)Application.

1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty.

2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God.

3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it.

4. You can have as trial of your spirit, nor of the truth of your state: it is impossible that you should ever prove your sincerity, but by a conscientious discharge of your present duty.

5. You cannot walk evenly with God, if you do not your present duty. Some men walk very unevenly: there are so many gaps in their obedience; they move from duty to duty, quite "leaping" over some, and lightly touching upon others, as if they had no great mind to any: they act grace so abruptly that it gives no continued sense; we know not where to find them. There are so many vacant spaces, so many blanks of omission, so many blots and blurs of commission: they drop a duty here, and another half-mile off; so that you cannot say, "A man of God went this way." (1 Kings 13:12.)

6. You must begin somewhere, at some present duty: why not at this? It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow than it is today: therefore "today hear His voice, and harden not your heart." (Psalm 95:7, 8.) Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon thy present duty, wherever it lies: do what you are now called to.


1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.)

2. Present grace is a pledge of future grace. To him that hath, more shall be given. (Luke 19:17, 26).

3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82.

4. The saints made this an argument in prayer. (Psalm 38:20-22; Psalm 119:30, 31, 94, 121, 173; Psalm 25:21.)

5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty.

6. By the well-discharge of our present duty we may attain assurance of salvation. (Colossians 3:23, 24.)

(Thomas Cole, A. M.)

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