1 SAMUEL 17:1-58
SUBMITTED TO DR. GUEST
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COMPLETION OF OBST 591
DECEMBER 12, 2011
The account of David and Goliath is one most often taught to children. Many adult believers heard the account while growing up. To move beyond the superficial aspect of the events, an in-depth analysis is needed. The narrative is a complex literary work with deep theological messages. The current paper will record a literary analysis of 1 Samuel 17:1-58 and then discuss the theology and applications that can be useful in the lives of the modern day believer.
The nation of Israel had asked God for a king. God had allowed this and Saul was anointed king. After Saul was disobedient and lost favor with God, God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint his youngest son, David, to be the next king over Israel. David was a ruddy shepherd boy who had several experiences where God had protected him and his sheep. In chapter 17 of the book of 1 Samuel we find David being sent to take supplies to his older brothers. They were encamped with the army of Saul across from the Philistine army. David arrived to hear the Philistine giant named Goliath taunting the Israelites and their God. It seemed his purpose was to entice Israel to send a warrior out to fight him. Goliath made the accusations and enticements twice a day for 40 days. David was appalled at his accusations and was willing to fight the giant. The men of Saul’s army told David about the rewards the king was offering to the man who would kill Goliath. David’s oldest brother ridiculed him. After collecting five stones from the stream, trying on Saul’s armor and refusing it, he ran to meet the giant conversing with him the whole time and hit him with a rock that was hurled from his slingshot. Goliath fell forward. David retrieved the sword of Goliath and beheaded him. Saul was questioning Abner, the commander of his army, while David was confronting Goliath. Saul’s question was regarding the father of David to which Abner reported he did not know. Once Goliath was defeated, Abner brought David to Saul and David told the king that his father was Jesse.
Understanding the setting helps the reader develop the scene. The narrative is set in the Elah valley, which is approximately fifteen miles southwest of Jerusalem. The two armies are each camped on the side of the two mountains, each of which slope down to form the valley. A stream of water runs between these mountains in the valley (1 Samuel 17:40). The author has a unique design for the characters. The round characters in the narrative are Goliath, a Philistine champion who stood over ten feet tall; Saul, the current king of Israel; and David, a shepherd boy who was the anointed king of Israel. The author told us a lot about Goliath, his height, armor, and tendency to use chiding remarks was some of the information shared. In order to understand the narrative the reader must know things about the characters of Saul and David from previous scripture: Saul’s disobedience and declining favor as king as well as David’s anointing and shepherding experience. Abner is a flat character in this narrative. He is present so that Saul may have a discussion with him about the father of David and to bring David to Saul after he defeated Goliath. David’s father, Jesse and brothers are agents in this work. David is present at the scene of the battle because he was sent by his father to carry food to his brothers and check on their welfare. Some of the contrasts contained in the narrative include Goliath, the pagan champion warrior fighting David, the child of God shepherd boy. Goliath wore a sword and armor for the battle while David was armed with only a slingshot and stones. David stated that Goliath came out with a sword, spear and javelin but that he came against Goliath in the name of the Lord Almighty (v. 45). Saul was the...
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