The Giant's Challenge

The Philistines had not been entirely subdued, and they again determined upon warfare. They entered the territory or Judah, and pitched their camp in a hilly country between Shochoh and Azekah. Saul entrenched himself with his men on an opposite height. A wide valley separated the two armies. Suddenly a man of abnormal height and strength emerged from the Philistine ranks. He was covered completely with the heaviest armor. Stepping midway between the two armies, he challenged the Jewish army to send forth a man who would dare to oppose him in single combat. The sight of this giant, armed to his teeth, struck terror into the hearts of the Jews. Day after day Goliath flung his challenge at the Jews without receiving an answer.

At that time David was at home caring for his father's sheep. His three older brothers were serving with Saul's army. Jesse called David and requested him to take some provisions to his brothers. David arrived at the Jewish encampment just when Goliath was again defying Israel to produce an opponent to stand up against him. Surprised at the lack of courage of his brethren, David showed by his interest in the matter that he was willing to match his strength against that of the giant. He was immediately brought before Saul. At first Saul refused to send this youth against the veteran Goliath. Then David, anxious to obtain the king's consent, related his successful encounters with a lion and a bear and concluded, "The L-rd 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." Yielding at last, Saul said, "Go, and the L-rd be with thee."

David's Victory

David donned Saul's suit of armor, which the king offered him. But, when he saw how enviously the king eyed him, David pretended that the armor was too cumbersome for him, and he returned the suit to Saul. He took his staff in one hand and his sling in the other; and choosing five smooth stones out of the brook, he put them into his shepherd's bag, which he threw round his shoulder. Thus armed, he drew near to Goliath. The Philistine came forth, preceded by his armor-bearer; but when he saw the fair and ruddy youth he exclaimed disdainfully: "Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with sticks?" and he cursed him by his gods. "Come to me," he continued, "and I will give thy flesh to the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field." But David, conscious of his good cause and inspired by it to a sublime courage, replied, "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 L-rd of hosts, the G‑d of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied... And all this assembly shall know that the L-rd saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the L-rd's, and He will give you into our hands." The Philistine, enraged by this bold reply, advanced towards the youth. Now David quickly drew a stone from his bag, and placing it in his sling, flung it at the forehead of the Philistine. It pierced the head of the giant, who fell upon his face to the ground. Running near and grasping the large sword of his fallen foe, the triumphant David cut off his head. Seeing their hero prostrate, the Philistines fled in panic, and the Jews pursued them as far as Ekron and Gath.

David's courage and faith in G‑d became the talk of all the people.

David Becomes Saul's Son-In-Law

Saul now retained David permanently. The king gave his younger daughter Michal to David for a wife, thus fulfilling his promise to make the victor over Goliath his son-in-law. And then commenced a great friendship between the king's son Jonathan and the future king of Israel which became proverbial of truly selfless friendship and devotion. David was now frequently sent out by Saul on military expeditions; he was successful in whatever he undertook, and became endeared to the hearts of the people because of his military genius as well as his profoundly religious spirit.