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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 17

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verses 1-58

1 Samuel 17:0


I. David was on God's side. This was a religious war. Goliath fought for Dagon and cursed David by his gods. David fought for Jehovah. Let every child know for certain that he is, like David, a warrior and champion.

II. David fought in God's strength. God's Spirit gave him his holy courage, suggested his weapons, and guided the stone from the sling to Goliath's temples. Was not David the man after God's own heart because he so frankly owned God in everything? David and Goliath represent two systems and two kingdoms. The war between the Israelites and Philistines is still raging. On which side are you?

III. David the conqueror. If on God's side, you shall win in the end, because God shall win, and all His shall win with Him. The world's creed often is that might is right; ours is that right is might, for God is with the right, and makes it at length almighty as Himself.

J. Wells, Bible Children, p. 145.

David's fight with Goliath was: (1) a good fight, and (2) a fight of faith. It was a good fight because David was fighting for a good cause: for the cause and people of God. Goliath was a bad man, and he was the soldier of a bad cause. He had mocked God's people and God. And David went down to fight with him, because he both heard and saw that he was an enemy of God. And it was a fight of faith, because in going down to the fight David did not trust in sword, or spear, or shield, nor in his youth, or his strength, or any seen thing, but in God, whom he could not see. In the strength of God's presence he went to meet Goliath. Our fight now is with badness itself. That is the great giant Christ sends us to fight with; that is the one chief enemy He Himself fights against.

A. Macleod, Talking to the Children, p. 191.

References: 1 Samuel 17:16 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 329. 1 Samuel 17:29 . Parker, vol. vii., p. 72; Bishop Claughton, Church Sermons by Eminent Clergymen, vol. i., p. 249. 1 Samuel 17:36 , 1 Samuel 17:37 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1253, and vol. xxx., No. 1810. 1 Samuel 17:0 R. Lorimer, Bible Studies in Life and Truth, p. 211; W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 26; Sunday Magazine, 1886, p. 258.

Verse 37

1 Samuel 17:37

Saul by his sins forfeited the kingdom to a neighbour of his, who was better than he in the very particulars wherein Saul had so sadly failed. We find in David: (1) A single-hearted trust in the God of Israel; a generous forgetfulness of himself. (2) A combination of courage and modesty in God's service; a zeal to do, if possible, some great thing for Him, without any disposition to value himself on it when it was done.

I. It is well to remember that David had been chosen out by special message from God and anointed to be king, and knew himself to be so. He knew himself to be marked out from the beginning for the highest place, yet never on any occasion did he show the least disposition to press into it.

II. In David's argument, as given in the text, we find a plain, straightforward, manly way of taking things. He had recourse, not to the promise of the kingdom, but to God's past preservation of him, and to his certainty that he was undertaking God's own cause.

III. David, by his simplicity and singleness of heart, became a type of our Lord and Redeemer. And being so, he was a type and pattern of His Church and of every individual member of the same. From his conduct on this occasion we may learn these lessons: (1) No man's heart need fail him because of any spiritual danger which the world calls irresistible. (2) We should leave nothing undone that might glorify God. (3) We should not be anxious to invent ways of our own, but rather use the ways that God has appointed, and when these fail leave Him to do the rest. (4) As God's mercies continue increasing, so should our remembrance of them increase.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. iv., p. 133 (see also J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Sundays after Trinity, Part I., p. 150).


I. How David reasoned from past mercies, and grounded upon them the expectation of future aid from above. He had been delivered from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, and this deliverance he recalled to mind in a moment of new danger, as feeling it to be prophetic of his victory over the giant, and thus had he commenced, even in his young days, that habit of appealing to his own experience of which we find frequent traces in his writings, and which cannot be too earnestly commended to all who wish to enjoy godly peace.

II. David's readiness to make use of means, notwithstanding his full confidence in the succour and protection of God. He tried the armour which Saul proposed, though he felt assured that the Lord would deliver him. If ever man might have ventured to neglect means, since the result was ordained, David might have been warranted in refusing the armour without trying it on. But this is just what David did not do; he proceeded on the principle that no expectation of a miracle should make us slack in the employment of means, but that so long as means are within reach we are bound to employ them, though it may not be through their use that God will finally work.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2426.

Verse 45

1 Samuel 17:45

I. In the battle of life good men have to fight a powerful foe. (1) In the battle of life we have to contend with numerous adversaries. (2) In the battle of life we are often hindered by those who ought to help us. (3) In the battle of life we are animated by various feelings. (4) In the battle of life past victories strengthen us for future conflicts.

II. In the battle of life good men need Divine assistance. David's dependence on God was right for four reasons. (1) It ensured the right help for the combat. (2) It awakened a right spirit for the combat. (3) It led to a right selection of weapons for the combat. (4) It secured a right issue in the combat.

Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 78.

References: 1 Samuel 17:45 . J. W. Burgon, Ninety-one Short Sermons, Nos. 04 and 65. 1 Samuel 17:40-54 . J. Vaughan, Sermons to Children, 5th series, p. 13. 1 Samuel 17:45 . J. W. Atkinson, Penny Pulpit, No. 935; C. Kingsley, National Sermons, p. 242. 1 Samuel 17:45 , 1 Samuel 17:46 . F. W. Krummacher, David the King of Israel, p. 35. 1 Samuel 17:47 . A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, No. 1054; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, p. 57; T. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 189. 1 Samuel 17:48 . J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. i., p. 192.

Verse 50

1 Samuel 17:50

The history of David's combat with Goliath sets before us our own calling and our conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil.


I. David was the son of a Bethlehemite, one among the families of Israel with nothing apparently to recommend him to God, the youngest of his brethren, and despised by them. He seemed born to live and die among his sheep. Yet God took him from the sheepfolds to make him His servant and friend. This is fulfilled in the case of all Christians. They are by nature poor and mean and nothing worth, but God chooses them and brings them unto himself.

II. David was a shepherd when God chose him, for He chooses not the great men of the world. The most solitary, the most unlearned, God visits, God blesses, God brings to glory, if he be but rich in faith. All Christians are kings in God's sight, they are kings in His unseen kingdom, in His spiritual world, in the communion of saints.

III. Next, observe, God chose David by the prophet Samuel. He did not think it enough to call him silently, but He called him by a voice. And so in like manner God sends His ministers to those whom He hath from eternity chosen. Samuel chose only one; but now God gives His ministers leave to apply Christ's saving death to all whom they can find.

IV. When Samuel had anointed David, the Spirit of God came upon him from that day forward. God's Spirit vouchsafes to dwell within the Christian, and to make his heart and body His temple.

V. Though David received the gift of God's Holy Spirit, yet nothing came of it all at once. So it is with Baptism. Nothing shows, for some time, that the Spirit of God has come into the child baptised; but the Lord who seeth the heart, sees in the child the presence of the Spirit.

VI. Lastly, let us enquire who is our Goliath. The answer is plain: the devil is our Goliath; we have to fight Satan, and the warfare against him lasts all through life. We come against him in Christ's all powerful, all conquering name.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. v., p. 198 (sec also J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. viii., p. 48.

References: 1 Samuel 17:50 . J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 430; E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons, 1st series, p. 306.

Verse 58

1 Samuel 17:58

This question, short and simple as it is, is suggestive of some practical thoughts on the subjection of personal responsibility and faithfulness to the traditions of one's pedigree, or it may be, in the way of warning against lineal weaknesses and sins.

I. My first word is to those of you who have sprung from a lowly parentage. If there is anything more utterly contemptible than for one who has risen in the world to be ashamed of his humble origin, it is the conduct of him who ridicules his low-born brother. The hands of Jesse, the Bethlehemite farmer, were somewhat horny, and his wife a plain, unpretending body, but their son was proud to take them on a visit to Mizpeh of Moab, and introduce them to the king.

II. My next word is to those who have been born in the line of a Christian parentage. The purest blood this world has ever known is that of a Christian ancestry. It is not enough for those who come of a saintly stock to shun the sins of the prodigal, they ought to be conspicuous for their Christian character.

III. I am not afraid to put the question even to those who have had no such advantage. Many a clean bird has come out of a foul nest. Divine grace is stronger even than blood. History can supply many an instance to the praise of Him who oft-times finds the brightest diamonds in the darkest mines, and the richest pearls in the deepest seas.

IV. A purely spiritual meaning may be given to the text. There are but two paternities, and one or other of these we all must own. Would that we could all reply to the question "Whose son art thou? " "Behold, now are we the sons of God."

J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 127.

References: 1 Samuel 17:58 . R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, p. 96. 1 Samuel 18:1 . T. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 200. 1 Samuel 18:1 , 1 Samuel 18:2 . F. W. Krummacher, David the King of Israel, p. 51. 1 Samuel 18:1-30 . W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 39. 1 Samuel 18:3 . J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 436; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, p. 60. 1 Samuel 18:0 W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 530.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/1-samuel-17.html.
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