Goliath Challenges Israel

Chapter 17 The Philistines gathered their armies together for war. They met at Socoh in Judah. Their camp was between Socoh and Azekah, at a town called Ephes Dammim.

Saul and the Israelite soldiers also gathered together. Their camp was in the Valley of Elah. Saul’s soldiers were lined up and ready to fight the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill. The Israelites were on the other hill. The valley was between them.

The Philistines had a champion fighter named Goliath, who was from Gath. He was over 9 feet[a] tall. Goliath came out of the Philistine camp. He had a bronze helmet on his head. He wore a coat of armor that was made like the scales on a fish. This armor was made of bronze and weighed about 125 pounds.[b] Goliath wore bronze protectors on his legs. He had a bronze javelin tied on his back. The wooden part of his spear was as big as a weaver’s rod. The spear’s blade weighed 15 pounds.[c] Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying Goliath’s shield.

Each day Goliath would come out and shout a challenge to the Israelite soldiers. He would say, “Why are all of your soldiers lined up ready for battle? You are Saul’s servants. I am a Philistine. So choose one man and send him to fight me. If that man kills me, he wins and we Philistines will become your slaves. But if I kill your man, then I win, and you will become our slaves. You will have to serve us.”

10 The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel. I dare you to send me one of your men and let us fight.”

11 Saul and the Israelite soldiers heard what Goliath said, and they were very afraid.

David Goes to the Battle Front

12 [d] David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was from the Ephrathah family in Bethlehem, Judah. Jesse had eight sons. In Saul’s time Jesse was an old man. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons went with Saul to the war. The first son was Eliab, the second was Abinadab, and the third was Shammah. 14 David was the youngest son. The three oldest sons were in Saul’s army, 15 but David left Saul from time to time to take care of his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 The Philistine came out every morning and evening and stood before the Israelite army. Goliath insulted Israel like this for 40 days.

17 One day Jesse said to his son David, “Take this basket[e] of cooked grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers in the camp. 18 Also take these ten pieces of cheese for the officer who commands your brothers’ group of 1000 soldiers. See how your brothers are doing. Bring back something to show me your brothers are all right. 19 Your brothers are with Saul and all the Israelite soldiers in the Valley of Elah. They are there to fight against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning, David had another shepherd take care of the sheep while he took the food and left as Jesse had told him to. David drove their wagon to the camp. The soldiers were going out to their battle positions just as David arrived. The soldiers began shouting their war cry. 21 The Israelites and Philistines were lined up and ready for battle.

22 David left the food with the man who kept supplies. Then he ran to the place where the Israelite soldiers were and asked about his brothers. 23 While David was talking with his brothers, the Philistine champion fighter came out from the Philistine army. This was Goliath, the Philistine from Gath. Goliath shouted things against Israel as usual. David heard what he said.

24 The Israelite soldiers saw Goliath and ran away. They were all afraid of him. 25 One of the Israelite men said, “Did you see that man? Look at him! He comes out each day and makes fun of Israel. Whoever kills him will get rich. King Saul will give him a lot of money. Saul will also let his daughter marry the man who kills Goliath. He will also make that man’s family free from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What did he say? What is the reward for killing this Philistine and taking away this shame from Israel? Who is this Goliath anyway? He is only some foreigner,[f] nothing but a Philistine. Why does he think he can speak against the army of the living God?”

27 So the Israelite told David about the reward for killing Goliath. 28 David’s oldest brother Eliab heard David talking with the soldiers and became angry. Eliab asked David, “Why did you come here? Who did you leave those few sheep with in the desert? I know why you came down here. You didn’t want to do what you were told to do. You just wanted to come down here to watch the battle.”

29 David said, “What did I do now? I didn’t do anything wrong! I was only talking.” 30 He turned to some other people and asked them the same questions. They gave him the same answers as before.

31 Some men heard David talking. They took David to Saul and told him what David had said. 32 David said to Saul, “People shouldn’t let Goliath discourage them. I am your servant. I will go fight this Philistine.”

33 Saul answered, “You can’t go out and fight against this Philistine. You’re not even a soldier![g] Goliath has been fighting in wars since he was a boy.”

34 But David said to Saul, “There were times when I was taking care of my father’s sheep that wild animals came to take some sheep from the flock. Once there was a lion and another time, a bear. 35 I chased that wild animal, attacked it, and took the sheep from its mouth. The wild animal jumped on me, but I caught it by the fur under its mouth. And I hit it and killed it. 36 I killed both a lion and a bear like that! And I will kill that foreigner, Goliath, just like them. Goliath will die because he made fun of the army of the living God. 37 The Lord saved me from the lion and the bear. He will also save me from this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go and may the Lord be with you.” 38 Saul put his own clothes on David. He put a bronze helmet on David’s head and armor on his body. 39 David put on the sword and tried to walk around. He tried to wear Saul’s uniform, but David was not used to all those heavy things.

David said to Saul, “I can’t fight in these things. I’m not used to them.” So David took them all off. 40 He took his walking stick in his hand and went to find five smooth stones from the stream. He put the five stones in his shepherd’s bag and held his sling in his hand. Then he went out to meet the Philistine.

David Kills Goliath

41 The Philistine slowly walked closer and closer to David. Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying a large shield. 42 Goliath looked at David with disgust. He saw that David was only a handsome, healthy[h] boy.[i] 43 Goliath said to David, “What is that stick for? Did you come to chase me away like a dog?” Then Goliath used the names of his gods to say curses against David. 44 He said to David, “Come here, and I’ll feed your body to the birds and wild animals.”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come to me using sword, spear, and javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel. You have said bad things about him. 46 Today the Lord will let me defeat you. I will kill you. I will cut off your head and feed your body to the birds and wild animals. And we will do the same thing to all the other Philistines too. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel. 47 All the people gathered here will know that the Lord doesn’t need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to the Lord, and he will help us defeat all of you.”

48 Goliath the Philistine started to attack David. He slowly walked closer and closer toward David, but David ran out to meet Goliath.

49 David took out a stone from his bag. He put it in his sling and swung the sling. The stone flew from the sling and hit Goliath right between the eyes. The stone sank deep into his head, and Goliath fell to the ground—face down.

50 So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and one stone! He hit the Philistine and killed him. David didn’t have a sword, 51 so he ran and stood beside the Philistine. Then David took Goliath’s own sword out of its sheath and used it to cut off his head. That is how David killed the Philistine.

When the other Philistines saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 The soldiers of Israel and Judah shouted and started chasing the Philistines. The Israelites chased them all the way to the city limits of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. They killed many of the Philistines. Their bodies were scattered along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. 53 After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back to the Philistine camp and took many things from that camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he kept the Philistine’s weapons at home.

Saul Begins to Fear David

55 Saul watched David go out to fight Goliath. Saul spoke to Abner, the commander of the army. “Abner, who is that young man’s father?”

Abner answered, “I swear I don’t know, sir.”

56 King Saul said, “Find out who his father is.”

57 When David came back after killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul. David was still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 Saul asked him, “Young man, who is your father?”

David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse, from Bethlehem.”


  1. 1 Samuel 17:4 over 9 feet Literally, “6 cubits and 1 span” (2.9 m). Josephus, most copies of the ancient Greek version, and a Hebrew scroll from Qumran all have “4 cubits and 1 span.” This is 6' 6" (2 m) for the short cubit or 7' 7" (2.33 m) for the long cubit.
  2. 1 Samuel 17:5 125 pounds Literally, “5000 shekels” (57.5 kg).
  3. 1 Samuel 17:7 15 pounds Literally, “600 shekels” (6.9 kg).
  4. 1 Samuel 17:12 The oldest copies of the ancient Greek version do not have 17:12-31, 41, 48b, 50, 55-58; 18:1-5, 10-11, 17-19, 29b-30.
  5. 1 Samuel 17:17 basket Literally, “ephah.”
  6. 1 Samuel 17:26 foreigner Literally, “uncircumcised.” This means a person who did not share in the agreement God made with Israel. See “circumcise, circumcision” in the Word List. Also in verse 36.
  7. 1 Samuel 17:33 You’re not even a soldier Or “You are only a boy!” The Hebrew word for “boy” often means “servant” or “the helper who carries a soldier’s weapons.”
  8. 1 Samuel 17:42 healthy The Hebrew word means “red,” “ruddy,” or “red-haired.”
  9. 1 Samuel 17:42 boy Or “teenager” or “soldier’s helper.”

David Shames Saul

Chapter 24 After Saul had chased the Philistines away, people told him, “David is in the desert area near En Gedi.”

So Saul chose 3000 men from all over Israel and began searching for David and his men. They looked near Wild Goat Rocks. Saul came to some sheep pens beside the road. There was a cave near there, so Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were deep inside that same cave. David’s men told him, “This is day the Lord told you about when he said, ‘I will give your enemy to you, and you can do whatever you want to him.’”

So David crawled closer and closer to Saul and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Saul didn’t notice what happened. Later, David felt bad about what he did. He said to his men, “I pray the Lord never lets me do anything like that to my master again. I must not do anything against Saul, because he is the Lord’s chosen king.[a] David said these things to stop his men. He would not let his men hurt Saul.

Saul left the cave and went on his way. Later, David came out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!”

Saul looked back. David bowed with his face to the ground to show his respect. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen when people say, ‘David plans to hurt you’? 10 You can see that with your own eyes that is not true. The Lord put you within my grasp today in the cave, but I refused to kill you. I was merciful to you. I said, ‘I won’t hurt my master. Saul is the Lord’s chosen king.’ 11 Look at this piece of cloth in my hand. I cut off the corner of your robe. I could have killed you, but I didn’t. Now, I want you to understand this. I want you to know that I am not planning anything against you. I did nothing wrong to you, but you are hunting me and trying to kill me. 12 Let the Lord be the judge. I hope the Lord will punish you for the wrong you did to me, but I won’t fight you myself. 13 There is an old saying:

‘Bad things come from bad people.’

“I haven’t done anything bad, and I won’t hurt you. 14 Who are you chasing? Did the king of Israel bring an army to chase a single flea or a dying dog? 15 Let the Lord be the judge. Let him decide between you and me. He will support me and show that I am right. He will save me from you.”

16 When David finished speaking, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” Then Saul lifted his voice and began to cry. 17 He said, “You are right, and I am wrong. You were good to me, even though I have been bad to you. 18 You yourself said it when you told me about the good things you did. The Lord put my life in your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 This shows that you are not my enemy. A man doesn’t catch his enemy, and then just let him go. He doesn’t do good things for his enemy. May the Lord reward you for being good to me today. 20 Now, I know that you will become the new king. You will rule the kingdom of Israel. 21 Now make a promise to me with an oath using the Lord’s name. Promise that you will not kill my descendants, even after I die. Promise me that you will not erase my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David made a promise to Saul. He promised that he would not kill Saul’s family. Then Saul went back home. David and his men went back up to the fort.


  1. 1 Samuel 24:6 chosen king Literally, “anointed one.” Also in verse 10.