Chapter 6: DAVID
6.1 David And Goliath
David must be one of the greatest types of Christ. At this time of the
David and Goliath conflict he was a shepherd, despised by his brethren,
trying to save Israel at a time of dire physical suffering and spiritual
apostasy. These connections alone should make us scan this record for
deeper Messianic allusions. The giant strongman falling to the earth because
of a stone suggests Nebuchadnezzar's image of Dan.2, where the stone refers
to Christ. Note how lion and bear (17:34 cp. Dan.7:4,5) and brass and
iron (17:5-7 cp. Dan.2:32,33) are all mentioned in the record. Goliath's
death by a fatal wound in the head (1 Sam.17:49) must look back to Gen.3:15,
again connecting David and the stone with the seed of the woman (Christ)
and equating Goliath with the seed of the serpent. This is confirmed by
the repetitious description of Goliath in battle with David four times
as covered in " brass" from head to foot (17:5,6); which is
the same word translated " serpent" and is a symbol of sin.
According to some etymologists, " Philistine" fundamentally
means 'one who rolls in the dust', i.e. a serpent; and significantly,
Goliath is several times described as " the Philistine" . Six
being the number of the flesh it is significant that his " height
was six cubits and a span...his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels"
(17:4,7). It is even possible that the " man of sin" of 2 Thess.2
refers back to Goliath as his prototype, in which case the image of Dan.2
and the man of sin are equated.
Goliath, representing the seed of the serpent, a personification of sin
(i.e. the Biblical devil), needed a man to fight him (17:8,9). The men
of Israel cowered in fear, wishing they could only have the strength and
courage necessary, but looking one on another helplessly as the invincible
giant made his boast. How to overcome him and the evil intent of this
man against God's people was what the men's conversation revolved around:
" Have ye seen this man that is come up? Surely to defy Israel is
he come up" . They also discussed the glorious reward being offered:
" It shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich
him with great riches, and make his father's house free in Israel"
- and throw in his daughter for good measure too (17:25). But " all
the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore
afraid" (17:24). This may well refer to those who thought about being
Israel's " champion" in fighting Goliath, rather than speaking
about the Israelite army as a whole. Now what more precise description
could we wish for of our feelings in the struggle against sin? There seems
a similarity here with men and Angels weeping because no man was found
worthy to look upon or pen the book of life (Rev.5:3-5)- until our Lord
prevailed on the cross. 'Golgotha' meaning 'The place of the skull'
may well be the place near Jerusalem where David buried Goliath's skull
(17:54), greatly strengthening this connection. Whilst speaking of words,
" Ephes-Dammim" meaning 'border of blood' suggests 'Aceldama',
the " field of blood" . Goliath coming out to make his challenges
at morning and evening (1 Sam.17:16) coincided with the daily sacrifices
which should have been offered at those times, with their reminder of
sin and the need for dedication to God. The thoughtful Israelite must
surely have seen in Goliath a personification of sin which the daily sacrifices
could do nothing to overcome.
The ultimate wager
If David represents Jesus and Goliath represents sin personified, then
his supporting Philistines must be the armies of our individual sins,
depending for their strength and power on this principle of the devil
(cp. Goliath). The Israelites were effectively the servants of the Philistines
before this battle, although with a theoretical chance of freedom; and
similarly with mankind before Christ's death. However, this relationship
between Israel and the Philistines was now to be formalized and made permanent:
" Choose you a man for you...if he be able to fight with me, and
to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him,
and kill him, then shall ye be our servants" (17:8,9). This was exactly
the contest between sin and our Lord; if He had failed in His mission,
we would have permanently been in bondage to sin, as we were effectively
even before the cross. Something of the same wager is implied in Gen.
3:`5, another prophecy of the cross- either the man kills the snake by
hitting it on the head, or the snake will bite the man’s heel. He has
to kill it outright, first time. Yet thanks to His victory we are now
free from sin- and more than that, our sins (cp. the Philistines) should
now be subservient to us; Rom.6:17,18 may even be referring back to this
passage: " Ye were the servants of sin, but (by baptism into Christ's
death)...being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness"
. This sheds more light on the immense pressure on our Lord, knowing that
just one slip would result in the permanent servitude of man to the sin
which he hated. No wonder he appeared a man of sorrows. With that weight
on him was he ever jovial, light hearted, off hand? Surely the growing
flippancy and laid back, humorous atmosphere in our meetings is alien
to this spirit of Christ? " Wherefore...let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run (not stroll)
with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus; who
for the joy that was set before him (not now!) endured the cross...consider
him...lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted
unto blood (in your) striving against sin" (Heb.12:1-4). There is
no doubt that these verses teach that Christ's personal struggle against
sin in Gethsemane, prefigured by the pressure on David as he ran towards
Goliath, is meant to be imitated by us.
Despised and rejected
Plenty of other details now appear relevant to the Lord's crucifixion.
Both his family and the men of Israel generally rejected David's claims
to be able to save Israel (1 Sam.17:28-30). Eliab's " Why camest
thou down hither?" matches Christ's brothers telling him " depart
hence" (Jn.7:3). The crucifixion psalms emphasize how Jesus felt
rejected by both Israel and His family as he fought his Goliath then (e.g.
Ps.69:8). Arguing back from the experience of his Lord, it would seem
that David was really hurt and cut by the discouragement he received.
'Eliab' meaning 'God of my father' invites comparison with the Jews who
despised our Lord's claims at the time of his death. The alternative rendering
'God is my Father' would connect with Israel being God's son (Ex.4:22).
It is twice stressed that David's brothers " followed Saul"
(1 Sam.17:13,14); is it possible to argue back from this that Christ's
brothers were strong Judaists? His family appear to have later disowned
him during Saul’s persecution (Ps. 31:11), fleeing from him, as the Lord’s
friends also did (Ps. 31:11 = Mt. 26:56). David's being sent by his father
to see his brethren has echoes of Joseph's experience- which was also
highly typical of the Lord Jesus. Joseph's problems with his brothers
may well indicate a great barrier between Jesus and his natural brothers
(who surely would have always resented the fact he was the firstborn in
the eyes of their mother, whilst they were most likely convinced he was
David's other brothers also have names which have connections with an
apostate Israel. Abinadab means " The Father is willing"
; cp. " All day long have I stretched forth mine hands unto
a disobedient and gainsaying people" (Rom.10:21). Shammah means
'desolation, astonishment, ruin'. God would " make thy land
desolate (shammah)" (Jer.4:7), and Israel were to be an astonishment
to the world after their rejection. Similarly, Saul too represented
the Jewish system, as the one who appeared superficially to Israel
to be the one who could overcome all enemies, i.e. sin in the parable
(1 Sam.8:20). Doubtless one of the reasons they were attracted to
Saul was because his large warrior physique made him seem a match
for the giant Philistines in these man to man duels that often decided
whole battles in those days. And the men of Israel should have learnt
at the time of the crucifixion that the Law which appeared so powerful
to save was unable to do so. By contrast we are specifically told
that David was not of unduly great height (so 1 Sam.16:7 implies),
but was chosen because of the spiritual state of his heart. We have
seen how Goliath was a 'man of sin'; the New Testament concept of
Satan can describe both the Jewish system and also sin, because
" the strength of sin is the (Jewish) law" (1)
. The great height of both Saul and Goliath would inevitably have
been noticed; as if to imply that Saul (representing the Law) was
as superficially powerful as Goliath was. There seems to be a verbal
connection at least between the Jews' mocking question of Christ
" Where is thy father?" (Jn.8:19) and Saul's " whose
son is this youth" (17:55)- or was Saul's question also a subtle
accusation of illegitimacy? Ps.106:13 also seems to describe Israel's
rebellions in language relevant to Saul, as if he represented them:
" They sang his praise (cp. Saul prophesying). They soon forgat
his works; they waited not for his counsel" - cp. Saul in 1
Sam.13:8. Note how Saul lost the animals (asses) he was given to
look after; while David preserved his father's sheep, maybe looking
forward to the Jewish system's inability to save its people compared
to Christ's keeping of us.
Of sheep and shepherds
We can now attempt a more chronological analysis of the confrontation
between David and Goliath: " And David rose up early in the morning,
and left the sheep with a keeper, and went, as Jesse commanded him"
(17:20). There being no human reason for David to leave his shepherding
(17:28), there may be the implication that Jesse knew more about David's
mission than appears on the surface. Thus David could say to Eliab concerning
his coming to the battle " Is there not a cause" (17:29)- i.e.
'I'm not just here to bring provisions- but for something far more important'.
It would be fitting if Jesse represented God, in which case the commandment
to go and see the brethren would correspond to Joseph being told by Jacob
(cp. God) to go and see his brethren (Gen.37:13) resulting in his figurative
death and resurrection in the pit, and the Son being sent by the Father
to inspect the Jewish vineyard, with the subsequent murder of him by the
husbandmen (Lk.20:14). " As the Father gave me commandment, even
so I do. Arise..." (Jn.14:31) in the context of Christ's going to
fight sin on the cross connects very nicely with David receiving the father's
command and arising to go.
David leaving the sheep and going to fight Goliath recalls the parable
of Christ as the good shepherd leaving the flock and going to save the
lost sheep (Lk.15:4-6). The shepherd goes alone at night up into the hills
(cp. Isaac going to be sacrificed in the hills), and carries the lamb
on his shoulder- as Christ carried the cross of our sins on his shoulder
to redeem the lost sheep of mankind (Is.53:6). This lost sheep parable
is also picked up in 1 Peter 2:25: " For ye were as sheep going astray;
but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls"
(i.e. Christ the shepherd). But this in turn is quoting Is.53:5,6: "
All we like sheep have gone astray...but he was wounded (on the cross)
for our transgressions" , which is thus the parallel to the saving
of the lost sheep. This interpretation of the lost sheep parable- i.e.
that the shepherd going to save the sheep represents Christ going to die
on the cross- was first prompted by David leaving the sheep with the keeper
to go and fight Goliath, representing Christ's saving us from sin on the
cross. The leaving of the sheep with the keeper perhaps looks forward
to Christ's entrusting the disciples to the Father's care in those agonizing
days while death parted him from them, as David's encounter with Goliath
did. David's subsequent leaving of them altogether to go and live in the
King's court clearly looks forward to our Lord's ascension to Heaven after
his victory over the real Goliath.
Note how in the fight with Goliath, David progressively shed all human
distractions; he left the sheep with a keeper, then on arrival at the
battlefield he " left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the
carriage" (17:22), and finally left Saul's armour behind, representing
the Law as a means of overcoming sin. And there must also have been progressive
stages in our Lord's coming towards that state of total faith necessary
for his final victory. Notice too how David " ran into the army"
after leaving behind " his carriage" , and also ran towards
the Philistine. The eagerness of our Lord to fight sin, despite knowing
the supreme difficulty and seriousness of failure, sets us a matchless
example of the enthusiasm we should have in our striving against sin.
Revving up the faith
" He came to the trench as the host was going forth to the fight,
and shouted for the battle" (17:20). What a terrifying sight
and sound that must have been; and similarly the strength of sin
and man's inability to overcome must have struck fear into our Lord's
heart as he came closer to the cross. David as a newcomer and onlooker
would especially have noticed the obvious weakness of Israel. His
seeing the weak knees of all the warriors of Israel must have made
him feel like his Lord did on contemplating the fact that he personally
would have to overcome sin: " He saw that there was no man,
and wondered (2) that there was no intercessor:
therefore his own arm brought salvation...for he put on righteousness
as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation...the garments of vengeance"
(Is.59:16,17- cp. David's shunning of such physical armour for its
spiritual counterpart. Is there a conscious allusion to David and
David asked about the promised reward for killing Goliath as if it was
a genuine motivation for him to rev up his faith and go ahead. "
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"
(17:25). Our victorious Lord received these rewards in the form of the
spiritual riches of greater understanding of the Father, being given us,
God's spiritual daughter, in marriage, and us being made free from the
legal requirements of the Law. This again suggests that Saul in his heavy
duty taxation system represented the demands of the Mosaic law, from which
the victory of the cross made us free. Amazingly, it was the beauty which
our Lord saw in us which inspired him to take a deep breath of faith and
" Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the
armies of the living God?" (17:26). At least three times David stresses
that he will overcome Goliath with the help of the Angelic armies: "
This...Philistine shall be as (the lion and bear I killed with Angelic
help), seeing he (also, like them) hath defied the armies of the living
God ('God of the living ones'?- i.e. the Angel cherubim, 17:36). Thus
David says to Goliath " I come to thee in the name of the Lord of
Hosts (invariably an Angelic title of God), the God of the (Angelic) armies
of Israel" (17:45). The Messianic parable is so complete that this
triple emphasis on David's Angelic help must have relevance to Christ's
overcoming of sin on the cross. It seems highly likely that it is through
the Angels that Christ and us in our crosses receive power to overcome
sin (cp. Goliath), over and above any human strength which we can muster.
One can therefore better understand the spiritual panic of our Lord when
he felt this Angelic presence and help withdrawn on the cross: "
My God (Angel), Why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Mt.27:46).
" And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him;
thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (17:32). This
must be another John 14 allusion- this time to " Let not your heart
be troubled" (Jn.14:1), spoken by Jesus as he was about to go forth
to the cross, as David was about to fight Goliath. His subsequent references
to his earlier delivering of sheep out of the mouth of the lion and bear
indicate that Israel were in the same situation as those lambs had been;
again, as if the good shepherd David/ Jesus had left the sheep safely
(17:20) and gone to save the lost- and almost killed- sheep of Israel,
both natural and spiritual. And on another level our Lord's previous triumphs
of faith, not least in the wilderness temptations, would have given him
courage for the ultimate spiritual test of the cross.
Such was his totality of faith that David could calmly call out "
I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee" (17:46). David's
emphasis on cutting off Goliath's head (cp.v.54) and the stone hitting
the forehead perhaps indicates that the significance of Christ's victory
over the devil was that men now have the possibility of sharing his victory
over the mind of the flesh, which is where the real David and Goliath
battle is worked out so many times each day. David continued: " That
all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" , which seems
to be referred to in Jn.14:31: " That the world may know" that
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself through Christ's loving
obedience to the Father (cp. Jn.17:23).
David crossed the brook and then cast the stone at Goliath (17:49). This
connects with our Lord crossing the brook Kidron, and maybe echoes him
being a stone's cast distant from the disciples (Lk.22:41). There
is a continued emphasis on David's zeal to fight Goliath- as the Lord
had to fight sin: " David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and"
disarmed him (17:51). There is a possibility that this is consciously
referred to in Col.2:15, where we read that Christ on the cross "
disarmed (NIV) principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of
them, triumphing over them" - as if Goliath represented the Law and
the sin engendered by it which our Lord conquered on the cross.
Triumph over every sin
" And the men of Israel and Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued
the Philistines" (17:52). That shout of glee and triumph should be
ours on considering Christ's victory- and because the devil has been destroyed
by his death, we should enthusiastically pursue our sins right back to
their source, confident we will have the victory- as the Philistines were
chased back to their home towns, such as Sharaim, meaning 'two gates'-
as if hinting at the promise that Abraham's seed, both Christ and us,
would inherit the gate of our enemies. Note that the enemies that the
seed of Abraham would conquer are our sins (Gen.22:18 cp. Lk.1:73-75;
Acts 3:25-27; Mic.7:19). David seemed to have anticipated that his victory
would be pressed home by the Israelites attacking the individual Philistines:
" The Lord...will give you into our hands" (17:47). And no doubt
our Lord hoped that he eventually would see that the travail of his soul
had produced the same effect in us. The " reproach" was taken
away from Israel by David's victory (1 Sam.17:26), as Christ carried away
the reproach of our sins on the cross (Ps.69:9; Rom.15:3); therefore we
can stand unreproachable before God at judgment, with no sin at all against
us- due to Christ's victory (Col.1:22).
As a final inspiration- David took five stones but used only one. Was
he faithless and doubting that the first one would hit home? Do those
five stones represent the five books of Moses which Ps.119 tells us was
Christ's study all the day, it being through the word that Jesus overcame
the mind of sin? Or did he aim to use the other four on Goliath's four
giant sons (2 Sam. 21:16-22)? That shows supreme spiritual ambition. In
reality those four were killed later by David's closest followers- and
they must have their counterparts amongst us. So let us too arise, shout,
and pursue those sins which appear so triumphant.
Additional homework for the enthusiast would be a study of Psalms 8 and
144, both of which appear to be about the David and Goliath struggle,
and are therefore a description of our Lord's feelings after his resurrection.
Ps.144:3 is amazing: " What is...the son of man (Jesus) that Thou
takest account of him?" , showing our Lord's humility is such that
even now He is amazed that God bothered to help him, so low is his estimation
of the flesh he had.
The political aspects of this passage have not been considered; the following
points are to stimulate thought along this equally fruitful line. The
different metals which feature in the description of Goliath all find
their place in the beasts of Daniel 7, which are destroyed by the coming
of Christ. This implies that the nations of the world are confederate
under one charismatic, seemingly invincible leader; the latter day Goliath.
Hit by David's stone, Goliath keeled over " upon his face to the
earth" (1 Sam.17:49), just as Dagon his god had done earlier. Thus
Goliath was treated like his gods, as the lives of people of this world
consist in the idols of materialism they possess. Perhaps
this " man of sin" will likewise be an Arab? We have mentioned
the evident similarity between Daniel's image and the Goliath man of sin.
The place of the conflict was a little South of Jerusalem, halfway between
Jerusalem and the Mediterranean. This sounds suspiciously like the king
of the north planting his tents (cp. the Philistine's) " between
the seas (Dead and Mediterranean) in the glorious holy mountain"
(Dan.11:45). The Philistines making their constant painful incursions
into an apostate Israel may well have links with the P.L.O. activities
today. Goliath was from Gath (1 Sam.17:4), meaning " winepress"
, with its Armageddon and judgement hints. Similarly the conflict lasted
for 40 days (1 Sam.17:16)- another link with the coming Divine judgements.
David's mocking " Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?" matches
" Who art thou, O great mountain?" which was to be destroyed
" not by might..but by My spirit" (Zech.4:6,7), as Goliath was
killed by David without a sword in his hand, i.e. not by human might.
Note that the Philistines were pitched on a mountain, comparing with the
description of Babylon as " O great mountain" . Thus the king
of the North, the man of sin, Babylon, Daniel's image of the last days
are all subtly alluded to, implying that Christ will destroy all of them
during one conflict. It is worth questioning whether all these various
systems in opposition to Christ will be separate at the time of His return;
present developments suggest there may be one huge opposing system (the
beast) which incorporates all these others. But now the possibilities
are opened up to the reader to work through 1 Sam.17 again from this political/
latter day prophecy perspective.
It must be significant that straight after the fight between David and
Goliath, representing Christ's conquest of sin on the cross, " the
soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him
as his own soul...then Jonathan and David made a covenant" (1 Sam.18:1,3).
After the cross, a new covenant was made between Jesus and us, making
Jonathan representative of us. The extraordinary bond between David and
Jonathan then becomes a type of our relationship with Jesus after his
victory on the cross. To confirm the covenant, " Jonathan stripped
himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments,
even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle" , pointing
forward to our total divesting of human strength and giving it to our
Lord when we appreciate the greatness of his victory without those things
Jonathan lived in an environment which was bitterly opposed to
David; yet he stuck up for him, at the risk of embarrassment and opposition,
and certain damage to his own prospects (1 Sam.20:31); as we should in
this wicked world. As Saul cast a javelin at David, so he did at Jonathan
(1 Sam.20:33); as we should fellowship the sufferings of David's greater
son. Saul's hate of David resulted in Jonathan being " grieved for
David, because his father had done him shame" (1 Sam.20:34). Is this
not our response to our world in its' ceaseless blasphemy of Christ?
Only occasionally could Jonathan and David meet, brief moments of intense
fellowship away from the rest of the world, strengthening each other's
hand in the Lord (1 Sam.23:16), re-confirming their covenant together
(1 Sam.18:3; 20:8,16; 23:18). No wonder their goodbyes were so hard: "
they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded"
(1 Sam.20:41). Not surprisingly, they looked forward to the promised day
of David's Kingdom: " Thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall
be next unto thee" (1 Sam.23:17). Our communion meetings with the
Lord during our wilderness journey must surely mirror those meetings.
The depth of the David/Jonathan relationship introduces to the pages
of Scripture the idea of 'agape' love- a love higher than normal human
experience. " The beauty of Israel is (singular- re.Jonathan,v.25)
slain upon thy high places...I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing
the love of women" (2 Sam.1:19,26). Such love should typify our relationship
with Jesus. But does it?
The David and Goliath conflict was not only inspirational to Jonathan,
but to the men of Israel generally. It seems from 1 Chron. 11:13,14 that
soon after the fight with Goliath, there was another skirmish with the
Philistines at Pas-Dammim [RVmg. ‘Ephes-Dammim’- the same place where
David fought Goliath]. Again, the men of Israel fled, but those who held
fast were given a “great deliverance” [“salvation”, RVmg.], just as David
is described as achieving. Those men who stayed and fought were doubtless
inspired by David; just as we should be, time and again, by the matchless
victory of our Lord on Golgotha.
(1) See 'In
Search Of Satan'.
(2) Remember the Lord's great
respect for John the Baptist.