A Study of 1 Samuel 17:38-54

In this study we will look at the story of David and Goliath.

This is a very familiar story; everyone knows the outcome of this story.

But the three reasons I am teaching from this chapter are these:

1. We want to know: What exactly did God say? What are the words God recorded for us? Where do we see the Gospel in this historical framework?

2. How do these words impact the doctrines that we hold? Must we make some corrections? If we do not see Christ on every page of the Bible, we have not understood the Bible.

3. How do these words of God impact our personal lives? If we cannot apply it to our personal lives, we actually have not understood these Words from God.

Let’s begin in verse 38.

David received the OK from king Saul to fight with Goliath.

Now Saul wants to help David a little by giving him his own armor.

That was a very generous gesture from Saul, but not very smart.

If Goliath would have killed David, then Saul would have no armor.

But more importantly, we should ask:

Would Christ Fight Satan with Man-Made Armor? (1 Samuel 17:38-39, Isaiah 59:17)

David is here a picture of Christ.

Goliath is here a picture of Satan.

This battle between David and Goliath is a picture of the battle between Christ and Satan during the Atonement when the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross.

So, would Christ fight Satan with man-made armor?

No! Of course not! And that is also what we read here:

1 Samuel 17:38
And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.

1 Samuel 17:39
And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed (lit: he began) to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.

It is true that David did not put his trust in these man made objects that were totally unfamiliar to him.

God could have left out this historical detail.

But God wrote down these words to show us that there is a parallel situation with Christ on the cross.

The Lord Jesus Christ was not wearing any metal armor.

His armor was entirely spiritual in nature.

God described Christ’s armor in Isaiah 59:17,

Isaiah 59:17
He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

David did not realize it, but this is what Christ was wearing when He went to the cross, and in the eyes of God, David was a picture of Christ.

David was wearing the garments of vengeance for clothing and he was executing God’s vengeance upon Goliath.

Now let us look at:

The Shepherd’s Bag (1 Samuel 17:40, John 10:11)

1 Samuel 17:40
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

David took his staff in his hand.

Even though the shepherd’s staff and the shepherd’s bag played no role in David’s offensive weapons against Goliath, God recorded them here for us.


God keeps reminding us that David was a man after God’s own heart and that David was a picture of Christ:

David was a shepherd and Christ was a shepherd.

The Lord Jesus said in John 10:11,

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

What does it mean when Jesus said that He is the good Shepherd?

Only God can define what is good.

Therefore Jesus also said: “There is none good but God”.

Did Jesus refer to His Divinity when He said: “I am the Good Shepherd”?

Most definitely!

He was referring to Psalm 23:1, which starts out with the words “Jehovah is my Shepherd”.

Jesus clearly confirmed that He is the One who was called Jehovah in the Old Testament

When Jesus said: “I am the good Shepherd”, He indicated that He is “the Divine and spiritual Shepherd of His sheep”.

All other shepherds are human, but He is the Son of God.

Contrast: The Pharisees were carnal shepherds, but He is the spiritual Shepherd.

The Lord Jesus was a Shepherd of His father’s appointing, and to whom the care of all His sheep was committed.

This means that the Father had set up Jesus as the Shepherd of the flock, which consists of those people whom the Father had chosen from before the foundation of the world.

The good Shepherd feeds His flock a good pasture.

What is good pasture?

The good pasture is the Bible.

This means that the good Shepherd will not disappoint any one of His flock, if they put their trust in the Word of God.

“The good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep”, which means that Christ as the good Shepherd lays down His life for the redemption of His sheep.

Here in John 10:11 the good Shepherd clearly and definitely defines the nature and the extent of His Atonement on the cross.

Jesus gave His life; it was not taken from Him.

Jesus gave His life for a group of people, His sheep. He did not give His life for everyone.

Why did the good Shepherd have to give His life for these people?

By nature His people were dead in trespasses and sins.

They were spiritually dead from birth.

The Father had given these dead people to Jesus, that He might make them alive and make them perfect, so that they can be presented to Him as His Bride.

But the Bride of Christ was laden with sins, and a righteous God demanded that these sins must be paid, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell.

Therefore, the Lord Jesus took these sins upon Himself, and on the cross He suffered the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for all those sins.

That is why He is called the Good Shepherd.

He gave His all for the sheep.

Five Smooth Stones (1 Samuel 17:40, Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16, Genesis 3:15)

1 Samuel 17:40
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

Have you ever wondered why David took five smooth stones out of the brook?

Why five?

He could have picked any number of stones, but he had only time to sling one stone.

The answer is that the number 5 can indicate either salvation, or judgment, or it can mean both.

In this case it means salvation for those who will be redeemed by Christ, and it means Judgment for Satan through the action of Christ by taking the place of those He came to redeem.

Did David kill Goliath?

No! God did!

David was only the instrument through which God killed Goliath, by sending the stone through his helmet into his forehead.

This was picturing Christ giving Satan a mortal blow. One stone killed him.

That stone represented Christ.

The same Hebrew word for “stone” has been used in familiar verses like Psalm 118:22, and in Isaiah 8:14, and in Isaiah 28:16,

Psalm 118:22
The stone which the builders refused is become the head (stone) of the corner.

Isaiah 8:14
And He (Jehovah) shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner (stone), a sure foundation:

These verses are quoted in the New Testament, which all say that in these verses the “stone” represents Christ. He is the stone of stumbling for Goliath, and He is the stone of stumbling for Satan.

But why did God say that these were “smooth” stones?

Actually, the Hebrew word translated “smooth” has been much more often translated as “portion”. That is the word that should be used.

With these 5 portions of stones God is indicating that: Here are the 5 portions that are going to be administered to Satan, to execute God’s judgment on Satan.

The first portion of God’s wrath will come to Satan when that stone, representing Christ, will come to him when that sling is slung against Satan, and it is going to kill him in his head.

Then has come to pass what God decreed in Genesis 3:15,

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Christ, the Seed of the woman, was going to bruise the head of Satan.

This prophecy was actually fulfilled when Christ hung on the cross, but it was already prefigured when David killed Goliath with that one stone that struck Goliath into his head.

What else did David have in his shepherd’s bag?

The Sling (1 Samuel 17:40, 1 Samuel 25:29, Jeremiah 10:18, Revelation 13:3)

1 Samuel 17:40
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

God said in verse 50:

1 Samuel 17:50
“David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone”.

The sling was used to send the stone into Goliath’s head. What is the spiritual meaning of a sling?
What do you sling out of a sling?

A stone!

Where is the stone slung out to?

To Hell, to be eternally banned out of the presence of God.

I would like you to see this from the following two references where the same Hebrew word for “sling” is used.

Before Abigail became the wife of David, she brought a present of much food to David and his men. And as she was speaking to David, God recorded her words here in 1 Samuel 25:29,

1 Samuel 25:29
Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord (i.e. David) shall be bound in the bundle of life with Jehovah thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, (as out) of the middle of a sling.

The souls of Christ’s enemies “them shall He sling out, of the middle of a sling”.

Where will they be slung out to?

They will be slung out into Hell.

Years later, when God was angry with the nation of Judah for their apostasy, and He was about to destroy them, God said in Jeremiah 10:18,

Jeremiah 10:18
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.

God was going to sling out the people of the nation of Judah, out of the Kingdom of God and into the condition of being under the wrath of God, which means into the condition of Hell.

What has this to do with the stone that David slung out?

Let’s turn back now to 1 Samuel 17:40.

The stone that David slung out was representing Christ, and He had to be slung out into Hell.

Here is the message of the Atonement:

What is necessary for our salvation?

Christ has to be slung out into Hell to pay for our sins, and Satan’s head will be killed in the process.

This is what happened at the cross.

That is why we read in Revelation 13:3 that one of the heads of the Beast, representing Satan, was wounded to death.

The language that God is using here fully agrees with the Atonement of Christ.

David, representing Christ, slung the stone, also representing Christ, into Goliath’s head.

This fully agrees with what we read in Hebrews 9, that Christ Himself was the High Priest who sacrificed Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross, and in the process Satan’s head was wounded to death.

It was Christ’s will that He was slung out into Hell and that He had to die on the cross.

At the cross we do not see a battle between Christ and Satan.

But because Christ, the Son of God, fully paid for the sins He was bearing on our behalf, because He did suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, that is why it is guaranteed that Satan also would have to suffer the torments of eternal Hell for his sins.

This guarantee was the defeat of Satan, and he was then cast out of heaven.

Dialog: David & Goliath.

In the Name of the LORD of Hosts (1 Samuel 17:45, Revelation 19:17-18)

1 Samuel 17:41
And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.

1 Samuel 17:42
And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

1 Samuel 17:43
And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

1 Samuel 17:44
And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

1 Samuel 17:45
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

David said:
“I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied”.

The LORD of hosts, is an expression that appears many times in the Bible.

Literally it means “The God of the Armies”, or it can refer to “The Captain of the Armies of Jehovah”.

Before there was any fighting in the land of Canaan, just before Jericho was destroyed, the Captain of the Armies of Jehovah appeared to Joshua to take charge of the conquest.

God is the Captain who leads the armies of the Israel of God, and He leads us where we have to go.

God is our Defender. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

We do not have to defend ourselves or fight for ourselves. We are safe and secure in the arms of Jesus. He is the Captain of the Armies of God.

David came boldly to Goliath.

In the Name of the Lord of Hosts he ran to him and overcame him.

Goliath said: “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field”.

But who really ends up dead?

Not David, but the Philistine.

God prophesied in Revelation 19:17-18,

Revelation 19:17
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

Revelation 19:18
That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

Satan and his emissaries end up being the losers.

That All the Earth May Know (1 Samuel 17:46, Matthew 24:14, Galatians 4:25, Galatians 6:16)

1 Samuel 17:46
This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

1 Samuel 17:47
And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.

David reiterated what God wrote in Revelation 19:17-18,

“I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth”.

God wrote these words to show us the analogy between this event and the words of Revelation 19:17-18.

David was not a bloodthirsty Israelite who wished the worst for his enemies.

In fact, later when David became king, he did not totally wipe out the Philistines.

His personal bodyguard partly consisted of a Philistine tribe: the Cherethites.

But God wrote these words “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel”.

Today almost all the earth does know that Christ suffered and died on the cross.

The crucifixion of Christ was an event that was not done in a corner, but it was publicized throughout the Roman Empire, and then it was publicized throughout the entire world.

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:14,

Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Then, when the end comes, then shall all the nations of the earth know that there is a God in Israel.

When Christ returns, all the people of the earth shall know that Judgment Day has arrived.

The Philistines are a picture of all the unsaved people of the world, who will end up being cast into Hell.

That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

This does not mean that Christ is going to reign from Jerusalem in the present nation of Israel. Concerning the present nation of Israel, God says in Galatians 4:25 that it is the “Jerusalem which now is, which is in bondage with her children”.

These are solemn words, which clearly state that the physical nation of Israel is still in bondage to the Law, and therefore they are still under the wrath of God.

The Bible says that except for a remnant chosen by grace, this situation will persist with them until Judgment Day has arrived.

The name Israel used in 1 Samuel 17:46 does not refer to the blood descendants of Jacob, but to the Israel of God which is spoken of in Galatians 6:16.

But now let’s get to the capstone in this story of David and Goliath:

Bang (1 Samuel 17:49, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Philippians 2:10-11)

1 Samuel 17:48
And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:49
And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

David took a stone from his shepherd’s bag and slang it towards Goliath, but God empowered the stone so that it pierced the heavy helmet of Goliath and it pierced his thick forehead so that it lodged inside his skull.

A 21st Century bullet could not have done a better job.

Goliath was instantly dead.

But remember whom Goliath represents.

He represents Satan. Satan is a spirit. You cannot kill a spirit.

A spirit lives forever.

That is why our soul must live forever in Heaven or in Hell.

When David killed Goliath, God showed us a picture of what Christ did on the cross.

Christ did not kill Satan, because Satan is a spirit.

But Christ defeated Satan at the cross, so that Satan would end up in Hell for sure, and Satan’s powers were severely reduced.

Satan was bound at the cross and he could no longer frustrate the plans of God to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

When God wrote in verse 47: “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear”, God did not mean to switch weapons from a sword and spear to a sling and a stone.

It does not mean that the nation of Israel from this day on fought their battles with slings and stones.

But it does mean is that all this assembly, of the Israel of God, will know that God does not fight His battles with carnal weapons like swords or spears.

God fights His battles with spiritual things.

God does not save people with the philosophies of this world.

God does not tell preachers to preach sermons on good morality, or on good works that we must do to attain a higher seat in Heaven.

God does not tell preachers to take our lessons from the world, or from the newspaper, or from TV.

God fights His battles with the preaching of the cross.

1 Corinthians 1:18
“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us, which are saved, it is the power of God”.

This is God’s method of warfare.

This is how Satan’s treasure chest is plundered.

Then we read: Goliath “fell upon his face to the earth”.

Why did God record this?

Throughout the Bible people fell upon their face to worship God.

Did Goliath worship God?


But on the Last Day all the enemies of God shall bow their knee to Christ. God says in Philippians 2:10-11,

Philippians 2:10
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth;

Philippians 2:11
And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

But then it will be too late for salvation.

God showed us this picture which refers to Philippians 2:10-11.

David Cut off his Head (1 Samuel 17:51, Hebrews 4:12, John 12:48, 2 Corinthians 2:16)

1 Samuel 17:50
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

1 Samuel 17:51
Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

David killed Goliath, and then he killed him again by cutting off his head.

What is the meaning of this?

In the historical setting it seems very strange.

Here was a ten feet tall giant, with an enormous sword.

David was a very young man, perhaps 5½ feet tall.

David could not have handled such a big sword.

But he did it. God recorded it for us.

What picture is God showing us here?

On the cross Christ was the victor over Satan.

All His enemies are under His feet.

But there was no sword in His hand.

He Himself was the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Christ Himself was the weapon, sharper than any two-edged sword.

God says in Hebrews 4:12,

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Concerning this Sword of the Spirit the Lord Jesus said in John 12:48,

John 12:48
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

On the Last Day the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword shall be the legal weapon with which the unsaved will be declared guilty and be condemned to Hell.

On the Last Day this Word of God will also be used to condemn Satan to Hell.

This is the picture that God is showing us here in the cutting off of the head of Goliath.

It is the picture of a second judgment.

Before the cross Satan was the accuser of the brethren.

He accused the Saints before God day and night, accusing them that they had broken the Law of God, and that they were unfit to come into heaven by God’s own standards.

The sword that Satan used was the Law of God.

But after the cross Satan cannot use that sword any more because Christ washed away the sins of all the Saints.

Now Christ uses this two-edged sword against Satan and His emissaries, through the words spoken by His saints.

2 Corinthians 2:16
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

David cut off Goliath’s head, a picture of Christ cutting off Satan’s head. And then:

He cast Satan into the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 20:1-3, Revelation 12:7-12)

What is the Bottomless Pit?

If you want to study Revelation, you should begin to study the first three verses of Revelation 20.

These first three verses span the entire New Testament time, from the cross to the Final Tribulation Period.

Revelation 20:1
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:2
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

Revelation 20:3
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Christ says that He only has the keys of Hell and of death.

Therefore the angel, or messenger, in verse 1 is none other than Christ Himself, who came down from heaven, and bound Satan when He successfully paid for our sins on the cross.

Then He cast Satan into the Bottomless Pit.

This is the same Bottomless Pit that we read about in Revelation 9, and in Revelation 11, and in Revelation 17.

The thousand years are not a literal 1000 years, just like everything else in Revelations is symbolic and spiritual in nature.

At the end of that time period Satan must be loosed a little season, for the Final Tribulation Period, which is an integral part of God’s testing program for the Church.

But where is the Bottomless Pit?

Revelation 12:7
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Revelation 12:8
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Revelation 12:9
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan, who formerly was in heaven, was cast out of heaven, and he was cast out into the earth.

When did that happen?

Well the following verses tell us when that did happen:

Revelation 12:10
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. This is a key time element.

Satan was defeated and cast out of heaven when Christ died on the cross.

That is good news. But now the bad news:

Revelation 12:12
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

When Christ died on the cross, Satan was cast out into the earth.

But Revelation 20 says: When Christ died on the cross, Satan was cast into the Bottomless Pit.

Could it be that the Bottomless Pit is this earth?

That is indeed true.

That is why Satan is called the Prince of the Power of the air.

But this only emphasizes our predicament:

There is no escape from this Bottomless Pit, except by an act of God.

How do we handle this?

Do we now live in fear and terror?

No! Satan is a defeated foe.

We handle him just like any other old snake: Very carefully!

Let’s turn back to the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

And They Spoiled their Tents (1 Samuel 17:53, Matthew 28:19-20)

1 Samuel 17:52
And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.

1 Samuel 17:53
And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.

1 Samuel 17:54
And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.

They spoiled the treasures of the Philistines.

After Pentecost the Disciples were bold as a lion, and they spoiled the treasures of Satan.

Is that not our Lord’s command to us also?

The Lord Jesus said to us:

Matthew 28:19
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:20
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The Lord Jesus promised us that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

Why should we fear anyone in telling them the Gospel?

We are going to make mistakes, but that applies to all of us.

None of us will be a perfect witness. So let’s get on with the task.

David slew Goliath; Christ slew Satan.

The next step is that the tents of the Philistines must be plundered.

That is easy compared to killing Goliath. God did that for us.

Now we want to be the instruments through which Christ will carry out His plans.

By Alfred J. Chompff

One Comment on “A Study of 1 Samuel 17:38-54

  1. I am blessed and satisfied with the explainations. Thanks a lot.
    Please, how can rooted with Word of God?

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