And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. — 1 Samuel 17:47
We know there are degrees of fear — it can range from anxious concern to sheer terror. Fear associated with the danger of imminent death is no doubt one of the most terrifying.
My brother tells of an incident that occurred when he was in Vietnam. He was serving in a Marine Recon Battalion and had been dropped behind enemy lines. One night, his team of six people was being hunted by a regiment of the North Vietnamese army. All night they were essentially “pinned down” in a jungle thicket with enemy troops searching for them — at times within 50 feet of their location. For seven long hours, my brother was convinced that he was going to be killed. His mind agonized about dying. He visualized his funeral, and thought about who would be attending it. That was terror — seven hours of terror.
However, focusing on the fact that “the battle is the Lord’s” can make a difference in a person’s state of mind when facing death. A World War II veteran who served as a frontline infantryman testified, “I found that God was right there to take good care of anyone who would trust Him. Shrapnel came so close to me that it burned the side of my head parallel to the stem of my eyeglasses, but it never even drew blood. I crawled through muddy drainage ditches until my knees were raw, with machine gun slugs whizzing over my head, yet God brought me through it all.”
The Children of Israel knew about the fear of death. In today’s text, King Saul and the Israelite army were on one side of the valley; the Philistine enemy was on the other. However, the two forces were not evenly matched. Facing the giant Goliath decked in his military armor, the Israelites were filled with fear. Verse 11 states they were “greatly afraid.” The fact is, they were terrified! Apparently, they were facing their circumstances in their own strength, and they had been in terror for forty days.
David, possibly the youngest Israelite in the valley of Elah, had a different perspective. He undoubtedly had less military experience than Saul or the Israelite army; yet David had experience that gave him confidence to overcome the fear that crippled the Israelites. He had proven that God was a match for circumstances that can cause fear; he realized that “the battle is the Lord’s,” and he relied on God for protection.
How much easier it is to face fearful situations when we understand this principle! Circumstances, such as persecution for a person’s faith, a health crisis, a terrible traffic accident, or walking in an unsafe neighborhood, can cause fear. However, the allpowerful God will fight our battles even if we have fear. Beyond that, He can calm our fears, like He obviously did in David’s situation. Relying on God and His protection is the way — the only way, — to really overcome fear.
This battle between the Israelites and the Philistines took place around 1025 B.C. The Philistines were an aggressive sea people who invaded the eastern Mediterranean coast and settled coastal Palestine about 1200 B.C. They had been Israel’s principal enemy from the time of Samson. During those years, the Israelites had lost many battles and experienced major defeats at the hands of the Philistines. With their history of many victories, and with Goliath as their champion, the Philistines were confident they would be victorious this time as well. To minimize bloodshed, armies of that time would choose the strongest warrior from each side to fight against each other.
At the time of this battle, David, the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, was not a warrior. This does not mean he had not shown himself to be courageous and capable of dealing with conflict. He had killed a bear and lion while caring for his father’s sheep.
The historical accounts in 1 Samuel are not meant to be in chronological order. This account is given here to show that God intended to use David to deliver Israel. Also, God used this event to spread the fame of David’s name throughout the nation. David may have acted as Saul’s armor bearer at a later date, or the title may have been honorary.
Goliath was over nine feet tall. A coat of mail was made of overlapping brass plates, and Goliath’s armor probably weighed about 125 to 150 pounds. Greaves were armor for the shins. The target of brass was a spear that was slung on his back. His iron spearhead weighed between fifteen and eighteen pounds.
The trench in verse 20 refers to the camp or the baggage and vehicles around the edge of the camp. “The host was going forth to fight” means that Israel’s army was marching out to put themselves into formation for a battle.
While it may seem strange that Saul did not recognize David, it is possible that David was with Saul when he needed the soothing harp music, and then went home to Bethlehem when Saul was feeling better. Perhaps Saul’s mental state caused him to forget David, or maybe David had been back in Bethlehem for some time.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reign of Saul
B. The decline of King Saul and the rise of David
1. David in the court of Saul
b. The slaughter of Goliath by David (17:1-58)
(1) The defiance of Goliath (17:1-11)
(2) The arrival of David (17:12-30)
(a) The sons of Jesse (17:12-16)
(b) The mission of David (17:17-19)
(c) The fear of Israel (17:20-25)
(d) The inquiry of David (17:26-27)
(e) The rebuff of David’s brothers (17:28-30)
(3) The request of David (17:31-40)
(4) The confrontation with Goliath (17:41-49)
(5) The defeat of the Philistines (17:50-54)
(6) The inquiry of Saul (17:55-58)
David said, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” This shows where he placed his trust. Just as David did not have fear when facing the giant, we can be shielded from fear when we face the Goliaths in our lives, by looking to the Lord for our deliverance and protection.