David vs Goliath
The Text (1 Samuel 17:38-51)
38And 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.
39And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed 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.
40And 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.
41And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.
42And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.
43And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44And 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.
45Then 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.
46This 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.
47And 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.
48And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
49And 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.
50So 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.
51Therefore 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.
Summary of Events
Saul is the king of Israel while Israel is being assaulted by the Philistines. The Israelites are gathered on one hill and the Philistines are gathered on another hill, with a valley separating them. A Philistine warrior named Goliath comes forward and calls for an Israelite to fight him. He proposes that if an Israelite is able to kill him, then the Philistines will be the servants of Israel. No one steps forward because they are all afraid of Goliath’s size (9’9”).
So Goliath comes back every morning and evening for forty days asking for someone to fight him but there are no takers. Eventually David tells king Saul that he will fight Goliath, but Saul tells David he’s much too small to fight. David says that God will keep him safe and eventually Saul allows David to fight. Saul puts his armor on David, but David takes it all off and goes to battle with only his staff and sling.
David picks up five stones from a brook. He announces to Goliath that God will make David the victor. David slings a stone and it strikes Goliath in the forehead. Goliath falls face down incapacitated but not yet dead. David stands on Goliath, takes Goliath’s sword, and cuts off Goliath’s head.
The Spiritual Meaning
Israel represents God's Kingdom (see Word Study on "Israel"). The Philistines here are opposing Israel so they are being used as an illustration of Satan's kingdom. David is the one who will win the fight and bring victory for Israel so here he is a portrait of Christ. Goliath is the mighty warrior who is heading up the attempt to destroy Israel so here he is a portrait of Satan.
As David prepares for battle, Saul tries to get him to suit up in armor and go to battle with a sword, but David chooses to not wear armor or carry a sword. When we go out to fight the battle of the Lord, we do not place our faith in the power of men or what men can provide. Instead, David takes his staff, which is reminiscent of, "The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1). The Lord cares for us with his staff:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)
However, it is also a representation of God's wrath poured out on the unsaved:
"Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes." (Psalm 89:32)
"I AM the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath." (Lamentations 3:1)
"Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them." (Job 21:9)
David carries his staff as a spiritual symbol that Christ protects His people and brings judgment upon the enemies.
David takes five stones
David picks up five stones from a brook as ammunition. Why did he take five and, more significantly, why did God put this detail in the Bible? The very fact that God recorded this detail means that there must be some spiritual significance behind it. The number five spiritually represents salvation and judgment (see Number Study on 5). The five stones David picks up signify the judgment that is about to come upon Goliath (a portrait of Satan) and the salvation that is about to come to Israel (a portrait of God's people).
David announces judgment
As David approaches Goliath he announces that the judgment of God is about to come upon the Philistines and that birds will feed on their carcasses. Later Goliath is ultimately killed with a sword which identifies with Christ's victory:
"And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse [Christ], which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." (Revelation 19:21)
This serves to remind us that this story of David and Goliath is an illustration of the battle between God's Kingdom and Satan's kingdom.
David uses a stone as ammo
David slings a stone that deals a devastating blow to Goliath when it strikes him in the forehead. Christ is the one who deals the devastating blow to Satan. So although David is a portrait of Christ the stone itself is also a representation of Christ's victory over Satan. Stones are often used in the Bible to represent Christ (see Word Study on "Stone").
Goliath is struck in the forehead
The fact that Goliath was struck in the forehead connects with the statement that Satan will bruise Christ's heel but Christ will bruise Satan's head:
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
Before Christ went to the cross Satan dealt a strong blow to Christ in that he was able to deceive the nations so that very few people were saved. In fact, just before the Flood only eight people were saved in the world's population at the time:
"Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." (1 Peter 3:20)
However, after Christ had gone to the cross Peter preached a sermon and about 3,000 were saved in one day:
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)
Something had happened to Satan's ability to deceive the nations. Christ had dealt a devastating blow which left Satan incapacitated.
Goliath falls face down
The spiritual implication here is that of worship. Satan does acknowledge Christ is God and worthy of worship:
"Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." (Mark 1:24)
Also, remember even though many will die unsaved there will eventually come a day when every single person will recognize that Christ is Lord:
"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (Romans 14:11)
David stands on Goliath
After dealing this blow with the stone David stands on Goliath's body and cuts off his head with Goliath's sword. By standing on Goliath he is announcing himself the victor. Christ now stands on Satan announcing Himself the victor even though the battle has not yet fully come to an end. When Christ comes again He will come with a sword and finish Satan off (Revelation 19:15). Just as Goliath carried a sword and was killed with a sword, so does Satan carry a sword and will be killed by a sword:
"He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword." (Revelation 13:10)
That sword is the Word of God:
"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17)
Many people interpret this story in such a way that the stone killed Goliath. Christ did not completely destroy Satan at the cross. Likewise, Goliath was not killed by the stone. The Bible says that the stone killed Goliath and then we read that David killed him with Goliath's sword. This apparent contradiction points to the fact that Christ's death guaranteed Satan's eventual defeat. Though the stone didn't kill Goliath, it guaranteed his defeat.