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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
The narrative reverts to the Philistine wars 1 Samuel 14:52; the other introductory details concerning Saul's rejection, and David's introduction upon the stage of the history, having been disposed of in the intermediate chapters.
Shochoh which belongeth to Judah - See the marginal reference which places Shochoh and Azekah in the "Shephelah" or maritime plain, and 2 Chronicles 28:18, "Shochoh" now "Shuweikeh," "nine miles from Eleutheropolis," Jerome.
Ephes-dammim - Called "Happas-dammim" (Pas-dammim, 1 Chronicles 11:13), "the end of bloodshed," now "Damun," about 4 miles northeast of Shuweikeh.
2And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.
The valley of Elah - i. e., of the terebinth, now called Wady es Sunt, from the acacias which are scattered in it.
3And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
(In the middle of the broad open valley 1 Samuel 17:2 is a deep trench 1 Samuel 17:3 with vertical sides, a valley within a valley: the sides and bed of the trench are strewn with water-worn pebbles. (Conder.))
4And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
A champion - literally, "a man between the two camps:" i. e., one who did not fight in the ranks like an ordinary soldier, but came forth into the space between the hostile camps to challenge the mightiest man of his enemies to come and fight him.
Goliath of Gath - One of the places mentioned in Joshua 11:22 as still retaining a remnant of the sons of Anak; Gaza and Ashdod being the others. The race of giants (the Rephaim, from רפא râphâ' ) is mentioned again in the account of David's Philistine wars 2 Samuel 21:15-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. It appears from these passages that Goliath had a brother Lahmi. Four are named as being "born to the giant in Gath." See Deuteronomy 2:10-11, Deuteronomy 2:20-21; Deuteronomy 3:11-13.
Six cubits ... - If the cubit, the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, is about 1 12 feet; and the span, the distance from the thumb to the middle or little finger, when stretched apart to the full length, be half a cubit, six cubits and a span would equal about nine feet nine inches. The bed of Og king of Bashan was nine cubits long Deuteronomy 3:11.
5And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
Coat of mail - Or "breastplate of scales." A kind of metal shirt, protecting the back as well as the breast, and made of scales like those of a fish; as was the corselet of Rameses III, now in the British Museum. The terms, helmet, coat, and clothed (armed the King James Version) are the same as those used in Isaiah 59:17.
Five thousand shekels - Probably about 157 pounds avoirdupois (see Exodus 38:12). It is very probable that Goliath's brass coat may have been long preserved as a trophy, as we know his sword was, and so the weight of it ascertained.
6And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
A target ... - Rather, "a javelin." as in 1 Samuel 17:45, and placed between the shoulders, as the quiver was.
7And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
Spear's-head - literally, "the flame of his spear," the metal part which flashed like a flame.
Six hundred shekels - i. e., between seventeen and eighteen pounds avoirdupois.
8And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, 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.
9If 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.
10And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
12Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul.
This and the following verses down to the end of 1 Samuel 17:31 are omitted in the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, as are 1 Samuel 17:55-58. The object of the omission was doubtless to avoid the apparent inconsistency with regard to Saul's acquaintance with David (see 1 Samuel 16:21 note).
13And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.
14And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.
15But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.
David went ... - "Was gone," referring to 1 Samuel 16:19-20. Had he been Saul's armour-bearer at this time it is highly improbable that he would have left him to feed sheep.
16And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.
17And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;
18And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
Take their pledge - i. e., bring back what they have to say in return.
19Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
20And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
The trench - Rather, "the wagons," which were all put together in the camp so as to form a kind of bulwark or fortification (see 1 Samuel 26:5, 1 Samuel 26:7). Here David left his "carriage" 1 Samuel 17:22, i. e., the things which he had carried, "his things" as we should say, or baggage (translated stuff in 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 30:24). There seems to have been an officer ("the keeper," 1 Samuel 17:22) in the Hebrew army whose charge it was to guard the baggage.
21For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.
22And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.
23And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.
24And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
25And 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.
Free in Israel - In all the other passages (fifteen) where this word occurs, it means free, as opposed to being a slave (Deuteronomy 15:12-13, Deuteronomy 15:18, etc.) Here it may imply a freedom from all such services and burdens as are spoken of in 1 Samuel 8:11-17.
26And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
The living God - This fine expression occurs first in Deuteronomy (marginal reference), and next in Joshua 3:10, and 2 Kings 19:4. We find it twice in the Psalms of David Psalm 42:2; Psalm 84:2, four times in the prophets, and frequently in the New Testament. It is generally in contrast to false gods (1 Thessalonians 1:9, etc.).
27And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.
28And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
Why camest thou down? - From the heights of Bethlehem to the valley of Elah.
Thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart - See the similar expression, Jeremiah 49. Compare the envy of Jacob's sons toward Joseph, and of the slanders heaped upon the Son of David in the days of His flesh.
29And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
Is there not a cause? - i. e., is not Saul's promise, and the insolence of Goliath, a sufficent cause for what I am about to do?
30And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.
31And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.
32And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
33And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
34And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
The narrative does not make it certain whether the lion and the bear came on one and the same, or on two different occasions. If it was on one occasion, the probability would be that the bear, having seized a lamb and carrying it off, a lion appeared to dispute the prize with the bear, or with David after he had taken it from the bear, and that David killed first one and then the other.
35And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
His beard - Put here for his throat, or under jaw; neither lion nor bear has a beard properly speaking.
36Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
37David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
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.
A shield - "A javelin," see 1 Samuel 17:6 note.
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.
The Lord saveth not with sword ... - Observe the consistent teaching of such passages as 1 Samuel 14:6; Exodus 14:13-18; Judges 7:2, Judges 7:4,Judges 7:7; Psalm 44:6, etc., and their practical use to the Church as lessons of trust in God, and distrust of ourselves.
48And 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.
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.
Champion - Quite a different word from that so rendered in 1 Samuel 17:4, 1 Samuel 17:23; better "warrior."
52And 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.
The men of Israel and Judah - See 1 Samuel 15:4 note.
Shaaraim - A town of Judah in the Shephelah (see the marginal reference), at this time probably in the possession of the Philistines.
53And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.
54And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.
Jerusalem - See Judges 1:8 note.
His tent - Perhaps the tabernacle. David had neither tent nor house of his own. It would be quite in accordance with David's piety that he should immediately dedicate to God the arms taken from the Philistine, in acknowledgment that the victory was not his own but the Lord's (compare 1 Samuel 21:9). His tabernacle, meaning the tabernacle which he had pitched (2 Samuel 6:17; compare Acts 15:16).
55And 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.
Whose son ... - See the marginal reference note.
56And the king said, Inquire thou whose son the stripling is.
57And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.
58And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.