The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
David and Goliath
I Samuel xvii: 1
through the reign of Saul there was constant war
with the Philistines, who lived upon the lowlands
west of Israel. At one time, when David was still
with his sheep, a few years after he had been
anointed by Samuel, the camp of the Philistines and
the Israelites were set against each other on
opposite sides of the valley of Elah ready to fight
each other. In the army of Israel were the three
oldest brothers of David, who were soldiers under
Every day a giant came out of the camp of the
Philistines, and dared some one to come from the
Israelites' camp and fight with him. The giant's
name was Goliath. He was nine feet high; and he wore
armor from head to foot, and carried a spear twice
as long and as heavy as any other man could hold;
and his shield-bearer walked before him. He came
every day and called out across the little valley:
"I am a Philistine, and you are servants of Saul.
Now choose one of your men, and let him come out and
fight with me. If I kill him, then you shall submit
to us; and if he kills me, then we will give up to
you. Come, now, send out your man!"
But no man in the army, not even King Saul, dared to
go out and fight with the giant. The Israelites were
mostly farmers and shepherds, and were not fond of
war, as were the Philistines. Then, too, very few of
the Israelites had swords and spears, except such
rude weapons as they could make out of their farming
tools. Forty days the camps stood against each
other, and the Philistine giant continued his call.
One day old Jesse, the father of David, sent David
from Bethlehem to visit his three brothers in the
army. David came, spoke to his brothers, and gave
them a present from his father. While he was talking
with them, Goliath, the giant, came out as before in
front of the camp, calling for some one to fight
The Israelites said to one another, "If any man will
go out and kill this Philistine, the king will give
him a great reward and a high rank; and the kings'
daughter shall be his wife."
And David said, "Who is this man that speaks in this
proud manner against the armies of the living God?
Why does not some one go out and kill him?"
David's brother Eliab said to him, "What are you
doing here, leaving your sheep in the field? I know
that you have come down just to see the battle."
But David did not care for his brother's angry
words. He was thinking out some way to kill this
boasting giant. While all the men were in terror,
this boy thought of a plan. He believed that he knew
how to bring down the big warrior, with all his
armor. Finally, David said:
"If no one else will go, I will go out and fight
with this enemy of the Lord's people."
They brought David before King Saul. Some years had
passed since Saul had met David, and he had grown
from a boy to a man, so that Saul did not know him
as the shepherd who had played on the harp before
him in other days.
Saul said to David, "You cannot fight with this
giant. You are very young; and he is a man of war,
trained from his youth."
And David answered King Saul, "I am only a shepherd,
but I have fought with lions and bears, when they
have tried to steal my sheep. And I am not afraid to
fight with this Philistine. The Lord saved me from
the lion's jaw and the bear's paw, and he will save
me from this enemy, for I shall fight for the Lord
and his people."
Then Saul put his own armor on David, a helmet on
his head, and a coat of mail on his body, and a
sword at his waist. But Saul was almost a giant, and
his armor was far too large for David. David said:
"I am not used to fighting with such weapons as
these. Let me fight in my own way."
So David took off Saul's armor; for David's plan to
fight the giant did not need an armor, but did need
a quick eye, a clear head, a sure aim, and a bold
heart; and all these David had, for God had given
them to him. David's plan was very wise. It was to
make Goliath think that his enemy was too weak for
him to be on his guard against him; and while so far
away that the giant could not reach him with sword
or spear, to strike him down with a weapon which the
giant would not expect, and would not be prepared
David took his shepherd's staff in his hand, as
though that were to be his weapon. But out of sight,
in a bag under his mantle, he had five smooth stones
carefully chosen, and a sling,—the weapon he knew
how to use. Then he came out to meet the Philistine.
The giant looked down on the youth and despised him,
and laughed at him.
"Am I a dog," he said, "that this boy comes to me
with a staff! I will give his body to the birds of
the air and the beasts of the field."
And the Philistine cursed David by the gods of his
people. And David answered him:
"You come against me with a sword and a spear and a
dart; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of
hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. This day
will the Lord give you into my hand; I will strike
you down, and take off your head; and the host of
the Philistines shall be dead bodies, to be eaten by
the birds and the beasts; so that all may know that
there is a God in Israel, and that he can save in
other ways besides with sword and spear."
And David ran toward the Philistine, as if to fight
him with his shepherd's staff. But when he was just
near enough for a good aim he took out his sling,
and hurled a stone aimed at the giant's forehead.
David's aim was good, the stone struck the
Philistine in his forehead. It stunned him, and he
fell to the ground.
While the two armies stood wondering, and scarcely
knowing what had caused the giant to fall so
suddenly, David ran forward, drew out the giant's
own sword, and cut off his head.
Then the Philistines knew that their great warrior
in whom they trusted was dead. They turned to fly
back to their own land; and the Israelites followed
after them, and killed them by the hundred and
thousand, even to the gates of their own city of
So in that day David won a great victory; and stood
before all the land as the one who had saved his
people from their enemies.
David and Goliath