The Contest Between David and Goliath
1 Samuel 17:32
And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

Eliab did not like to see the young stripling exciting the interest and admiration of the soldiers, and showing the cowardice of older men like himself. He had probably regarded his brother with a jealous eye, ever since he himself had been passed over by Samuel, and David had been anointed with the holy oil. David calmly replied, "What have I now done? Is there not a cause?" Three different interpretations have been given of these words. One is to understand David as excusing his conduct on the ground that his speech was mere talk. As if he had said, "What have I now done? Is it not a word?" As David, however, clearly showed that his words were more than talk, end meant action, this view seems quite inadmissible. Another is, to understand David as excusing his conduct on the ground that the proud challenge of Goliath fully justified his burning indignation and patriotic zeal. But the natural and most satisfactory view seems to be, to regard David's words as a direct reply to Eliab's charge. Eliab implied that he had left his sheep out of mare curiosity to sea the battle. But David answers, "What have I now done? Is there not a cause? Have I not come, as I already told thee, in obedience to my father's command?" This calm reply shows that Eliab's fierce and insulting words had not ruffled the quiet self-possession of David. It was a noble victory over himself. His calm patience was allied to indomitable perseverance. Instead of being cowed by the blustering rags of Eliab, David went on his course with the same glowing enthusiasm as before. The heroic courage, which rested on past exploits, and the unbounded confidence that the Lord would be with him in the conflict with Goliath as He had been with him in other conflicts not less formidable, overcame the hesitation of the King. Enthusiastic, courageous faith has a magnetic assimilating power. After Saul had accepted David as the champion of Israel, he sought to make him as efficient as he could. Had David worn them, and won with them the victory, Saul would have ascribed it in part to the armour, and claimed some share of the glory. But as David, when he assayed to go, found the armour all too cumbersome, he said, "I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them." His determination to fight only with the weapons with which he was familiar, was a stroke of military genius. The thought that was uppermost in the majority of the onlookers, was in all likelihood that the young man was going forth to certain death; but in all there was an earnest desire, and from many an ardent prayer to God, for his success. Goliath's boastful style of speech was common amongst ancient warriors. Homer represents Hector saying to Ajax in the Trojan war —

"And thou imperious! if thy madness wait

The lance of Hector, thou shalt meet thy fate,

That giant corse, extended on the shore,

Shall largely feed the fowls with fat and gore."It was probably not till David had thus confidently replied to the challenge of Goliath, that the champion of the Philistines deigned to rise, and proceeded with his shield bearer before him, be fight with one whom he regarded as an insignificant and presumptuous opponent. Skill in slinging was common in those days; and some had attained to extraordinary precision in the art. It is said of an early period of the Judges, that in the tribe of Benjamin there were 700 chosen men left-handed: everyone could sling stones at an heir's breadth and not miss (Judges 20:16). But when we think of the intense excitement and the great risk of such a duel, the ever-shifting movements of Goliath, and the small part of his forehead left uncovered by the helmet of brass, David's feat in hitting the one vulnerable part of his body, was one of the most extraordinary kind. thus beautifully, though fancifully, improves the incident: "So our Divine David, the good Shepherd of Bethlehem, when he went forth at the temptation to meet Satan — our ghostly Goliath — chose five stones out of the brook. He took the five books of Moses out of the flowing stream of Judaism. He took what was solid out of what was fluid. He took what was permanent out of what was transitory. He took what was moral and perpetual out of what was ceremonial and temporary. He took stones out of a brook, and with one of them he overthrew Satan. All Christ's answers to the Tempter are moral precepts, taken from one Book of the Law (Deuteronomy), and He prefaced his replies with the same words, 'It is written,' and with this sling and shone of Scripture, He laid our Goliath low, and He has taught us by His example how we may also vanquish the Tempter."

(T. Kirk.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

WEB: David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

Spiritual Heroism
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