Biblical Alpha: David fights Goliath

For the Biblical Alpha series, we are going to start with King David, whom God called a man after his own heart.

When we first meet David (16:8-13)*, he is tending sheep. He is called by Samuel (a prophet) from his duties and is anointed king.

The current king Saul is troubled, so he asks his court to find him a musician to calm his nerves. One of his attendants responds:

“I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.” 

David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. (16:18, 21-23)

We can see here that David, despite his youth, is a man of many talents, demonstrating mastery. He’s known for his courage, for being a warrior, for his oratory capabilities, and his artistry. The king instantly takes to him and makes him what is more or less part of his royal guard.

Israel enters another battle in their perpetual war with the Philistines. A champion named Goliath, a giant, calls out all of Israel’s warriors, but everybody is too afraid to take him on, despite the king offering huge rewards, until David shows up to take food to his older brothers.

Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”(17:25-27)

David gets there, sees this giant challenging Israel and sees everybody’s afraid of him. His first question, what do I get for killing him? His second question, who is he? Stone cold.

So, King David immediately goes to see the king, demanding to fight the giant:

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

3But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (17:32-37)

He convinces the king to let him fight a giant everybody else is afraid of, by recounting his stories of killing lions and bears. Remember, he is thought of as too young to fight in a war in an ancient tribal society when he did this.

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. (17:38-40)

The king gives him some armor and weapons for his duel, but David shrugs them off, instead choosing stones and a piece of wood for giant-killing

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! ”

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (17:41-47)

The giant is obviously not impressed by the boy and his sticks. The boy confidently tells him God will help him and begins the fight.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent. (17:48-51,54)

David rushes the giant, then one-shots him in the head with his sling, demonstrating mastery over his weapon. He then takes his head and weapons as trophies. Thanks to David’s victory, the Israelites rout the Philistines.


David as a young boy is a master of his weapon, the sling. He’s a master of the arts, good enough to play for the king and is known for his oratory skills. He’s an acknowledged warrior, known for his courage and put in the king’s guard. He’s killed lions, bears, and a giant, demonstrating unreasonable strength. At an age when most modern young men are killing virtual giants, he has a giant’s head and weapons as his personal trophies.

That’s alpha.

*All references from 1 Samuel

5 responses to “Biblical Alpha: David fights Goliath

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