I encourage you all to read 1 Samuel 17. In it, we find the incredible story of David and Goliath. Most know of this story, having been taught it as a child. Many illustrated Bible story books relate how that David, as a young man, slew Goliath, the giant and champion of the Philistine army. The telling of this event is exciting, encouraging, and instructive for us today.

David was the youngest son of his father, Jesse. He had gone to the battlefront of the war against the Philistines to bring food to his three oldest brothers. Previously, Goliath had issued a challenge to the Israelites, saying, “Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” (1 Samuel 17:8-10) While David was there, Goliath repeated his challenge. Because of his sheer size, all the Israelites were afraid of him. Rather than being afraid, David was outraged by this man and said in verse 26, “…who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Notice how that Goliath called his enemies, “THE ARMIES OF ISRAEL. David called them, “THE ARMIES OF THE LIVING GOD.”

David asked for permission to fight this man, and Saul allowed it. Envision this: the fate of this entire nation depended on the victory of this one man! Does this not remind you of the Lord Jesus Christ, who stood in our stead and defeated our enemy? Speaking of His impending victory on Calvary, the Lord Jesus said in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” He alone fought the battle and won for us eternal life! One man defeated our enemy, even as David defeated Goliath by himself. There is much, much more that could be said about David and Goliath, but let’s fix our minds on the question before us, “Why ask who David is if he was already in his service?” Saul certainly knew who David was; he was loved by Saul and served as Saul’s armourbearer. 1 Samuel 16:21-22 tells us, “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.” David also would play the harp to soothe Saul when he was distressed. Yet, after slaying Goliath, we read in 1 Samuel 17:55, “And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.”

Notice that Saul did not ask who David was; he asked who David’s father was. While Saul also knew David’s father, it seems that he did not know him well. As king over the whole nation, he could not be expected to remember the details of everyone’s lives. Let’s read 1 Samuel 17:25, “And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.” Killing Goliath came with some great rewards! The king would make him rich, would give him his daughter to wed, and would make his father’s house free. Most agree that this means that the father’s house would be free from the responsibility of paying taxes. King Saul would need that information in order to carry out that part of the reward. So, the mystery of Saul’s question is not so complicated after all. It is so important that we always look at the scripture in the context in which it is given so that we might gain a good understanding of God’s Word. (241.4)