As the Kingdom of Israel is torn from Saul because of his disobedience and lack of devotion to God, God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in the town of Bethlehem. It was here that the next king of Israel would be anointed. Once he sees the oldest son of Jesse named Eliab, Samuel assumes that God will choose him. However, God rejects Eliab and the rest of the seven oldest sons of Jesse. It was not until David, the youngest, came in from tending the sheep that God instructed Samuel to anoint him. This was done in secret to not incur the wrath of Saul.
In the meantime, the Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and he was haunted by an evil spirit. His attendants found that music could drive the spirit away from Saul. So the court sought out David who was a skilled musician and lyricist in his prayers to God. David was able to relieve the heart of Saul, and Saul became fond of David.
It was not long before Saul had to go to war against the Philistines. David’s three older brothers fought in Saul’s army, and David went to bring food from their father Jesse and gather news. When he arrived, he heard the challenge of the Philistine, Goliath of Gath. Goliath was a giant man who was a champion in war. He proposed that rather than fighting a battle, the Israelite send their best champion to fight Goliath to the death, and the losing side would become the winning side’s slaves. Goliath had put this challenge out for 40 days, yet no one from Israel’s side was brave enough to fight him.
When David heard the challenge, he became indignant. He could not believe that the army of the Israelites allowed Goliath to insult them and God. His eldest brother Eliab scolds him for his indignation. However, David decided that if no one else would, he would defeat Goliath with God’s aid. At first Saul was reluctant, but David, who had fought wild beasts, convinced him. Saul then tried to dress David in his armor, but it was too big for David. David with just his slingshot and five stones approached Goliath who ridiculed David and Israel for sending a youth to fight him. David declared that the Lord would give him victory. They then charged each other, and David slung a stone which embedded into the forehead of Goliath, killing him. David took the sword of Goliath, cut off his head, and the Philistines fled before David and Israel in terror.
In examining the story of David and Goliath, we begin to understand the type of person who God desires to lead His people. Not Saul or Eliab who may look the part, but rather David who God sees that his heart is devoted to Him. We see this most in the reactions that both Eliab and Saul have toward David when he expresses the desire to fight Goliath. Eliab sees David as ridiculous and prideful, signaling that he does not trust in God’s might. Rather, he sees his brother as someone trying to gain fame and glory on his own accord. He tells David to go home.
While Saul agrees to let David fight, he tries to dress David with his armor, signaling that his trust is in human inventions rather than God’s protection. David alone is devoted to defending God’s honor and trusting that He will fight the battle for him. Thus, it is in David’s detachment from trust in all other things that he becomes truly strong. We see in this story the foreshadowing of the Beatitudes and Paul’s exhortation that in our weakness, God makes us strong.
As David continues to serve Saul, he rises in rank in Saul’s army, and is successful in every mission given to him. David rises in fame among the army and the people of Israel. But most importantly, he continues to desire the heart of God. While David grows in position and stature, Saul takes note and will become very jealous which will set into motion the beginning of the end of his reign over Israel.