Themes in 1 Samuel 04: Killing Giants in a Few Easy Steps
Themes in 1 Samuel (04) - David and Goliath
1st Samuel provides a saga of Israel’s disobedience and God’s deliverances. Threatened by the Philistines from without and priestly corruption from within, Samuel is “given.” As Samuel faithfully rises Eli’s house falls (Ichabod 4:19-22). Samuel leads well, but then Samuel’s sons perverted justice (8:1-2). Because of this, they “want a king.” Samuel called Saul as the first king. Saul was good and God was with him (10:7, 9, 10, 24; 11:6, 15; 12:3, 13). Yet, in chapter 13, he prematurely acted, instead of trusting God (13:14). Saul goes from bad to worse, since he had not learned, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (15:22). This saga continues as God selects a new king.
Beginning in ch. 16 the story of David unfolds. Unlike Saul, who was a head taller than any other Israelite, David is the runt. The contrast between Saul and David is expressed in the selection process: “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (16:7). Then David becomes the Lord’s anointed (Christos). “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward” (16:13). On the other hand, “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him” (16:14). David was “a man after His own heart” (13:14). This expressed in David’s worship. His hands were first skilled in praise (16:16). So the first action of of this anointed king is to play music. The next action is to slay the giant.
The main theme of the book thus far contrasts the arm of the flesh with the power of God. All the idolatries of the Israelites were just a version of getting God’s good gifts without God. To this point only Hannah, Samuel, and Jonathan see this. Hannah sang, “For not by might shall a man prevail” (2:9). Samuel said, “Direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines (7:3). Jonathan said, “the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few” (14:6). But now comes the stunning example of this in the story we all know. A boy with a sling takes down a giant! David’s words are powerful: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands” (17:45-47).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more