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I Samuel 15-17 Listen
1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
God told Saul through Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites...completely. These Amalekites had a lengthy history with the Hebrews...and not a good one. They attempted to stop the Israelites when they marched through their territory (Deuteronomy 25:18, see notes), attacking them at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-13, see notes; compare to Deuteronomy 25:17, see notes; I Samuel 15:2). They afterwards attacked the Israelites at Hormah (Numbers 14:39-45, see notes). We read of them subsequently as in league against Israel with the Moabites (Judges 3:13, see notes) and the Midianites (Judges 6:3, see notes). You can see that these Amalekites had been very, very hostile toward Israel for hundreds of years. Furthermore, we see that Saul has already had at least one bout with them in I Samuel 14:48 (see notes). God's very clear on this issue of the total Amalekite destruction in verse 3. Moreover, Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (see notes) had already decreed their destruction. However, Saul decides to improvise God's plan - captures their king, Agag, as a P.O.W. in direct violation to God's command. Also, he takes some booty - forbidden by God in this battle decree (verse 3). Bad move, Saul! For the record, we're still not done with these pesky Amalekites. A remnant of Amalekites show up again nagging David in I Samuel 30 (see notes).
Incidentally, you will notice in verse 6 Saul's warning to the Kenites regarding their association with the Amalekites, "And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites." Kenites were Midianites; according to Judges 1:16 (see notes), Moses' father-in-law (Jethro) was a Kenite. Because of their kind treatment of the Israelites in the past, they get an opportunity to vacate the territory.
One more point should be made here regarding Saul's actions. He killed the people, but saved the spoils. He wasn't compassionate - just greedy!
10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Samuel breaks the news to Saul - uses the Hebrew word "nacham" to describe God's current attitude toward Saul. Translated "repent" (verse 11) here in the KJV, it does not hold the same connotation as the New Testament word translated "repent" (metanoeo) meaning "change of mind." The Old Testament word "nacham" means "to express sorrow," not to "change one's mind." In other words, God is very disappointed in Saul. Hey! Samuel's sorry also over Saul - cried all night prior to his confrontation with him (verse 11). Upon Samuel's arrival at Saul's post-battle location, Saul greets Samuel with, "Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD." What a clever reply Samuel makes when he says, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" You will notice twice in this discourse that Saul blames "the people" for the infraction (verses 15, 21, 24). It is also interesting that in verse 15 Saul refers to God as "the LORD thy God." It's as though Saul lacks his own personal relationship with God. Though Saul puts up a great defense and tries to blame "the people," he had intentionally stopped short of doing what God had commanded.
Here in verses 22-23 we have three phrases that I have heard people use over the years on their children:
Now for the really bad news, Saul - God has rejected you as King of Israel. So let's recap. In I Samuel 13:8-14 (see notes) God told Saul that his descendants would not carry the royal line for Israel. Now he's being told that his own kingship is to be prematurely discontinued. Here we have a picture of man's feeble attempt to improve on God's plan with his own works. God insists on plain ol' obedience instead.
24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.
32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
A compassionate person would feel sorry for Saul here. He's disobeyed God based on the poll numbers. Look at I Samuel 15:24, "And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice." In other words, "never mind what God had said; here's what the people wanted." Saul makes an impassioned appeal to Samuel. Noooooo...come on Saul...don't beg! But he does - begs Samuel to make things right between "the LORD thy God" and him. He even tears Samuel's skirt trying to keep Samuel from leaving; Samuel turns even that action into an object lesson in verse 28; he leaves no doubt about God's intentions regarding the kingship of Saul over Israel, "And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou."
Saul then makes another face-saving request in verse 30, "...honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people." He wants Samuel to put on a good show in front of the leaders so as to not undermine his authority right there on the spot. Samuel seems to comply with this request in verse 31.
But there is one more piece of unfinished business here, "Saul, bring Agag here before I go." Ol' cheerful Agag strolls in having escaped death...NOT! Samuel cuts him up into pieces for his atrocities after he says, "As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women." Despite the decree here, it is commonly believed among Jewish sources that the Haman of the Book of Esther, who is described as an "Agagite," was the descendant of this King Agag here. To the Jewish people, that gives the story of Esther a more sinister tone as King Agag's descendant, Haman, seeks to avenge his ancestor's death. His first mention in the Book of Esther is Esther 3:1 (see notes). However, there is no way to scripturally validate this theory.
It's not over 'til it's over, but look at verse 35, "And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." Again, as stated earlier, the word "repent" (Hebrew: "nacham") here means "to express sorrow," not to "change one's mind."
1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.
3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.
4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
In verse 1, God tells Samuel to go to Bethlehem for the express purpose of the selection of a new King of Israel from among the sons of a man named Jesse. You may wonder if the reality of what has happened to his position before God as king has fully been realized by Saul. Based upon Samuel's fear of Saul in verse 2, I would say absolutely; Saul knows that his days are numbered as king. One might even conjecture from verse 2 that Saul had people (like the Secret Service) keeping an eye on Samuel. God tells Samuel to go make a sacrifice there as a cover for the greater intention of appointing a new king.
The elders at Bethlehem are scared of Samuel; they seek assurances from Samuel that he has come "peaceably," and they receive those assurances. He then arranges a personal ceremony with Jesse and his boys - gonna find a king there. When Samuel sees the oldest son, Eliab, he is impressed - tall, king-looking guy. God says "no" to him and all the other brothers that go before him - seven altogether. Why? Verse 7, "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." So, bring David in from the field; let's get a look at him. Jesse hadn't even considered David up to this point. Here comes David - shepherd, slinger, harpist, poet, psalmist - but king? God says, "He's the one!" Samuel anoints David. Hang on David, these things sometimes take awhile to unfold; we have a small technicality: Saul still thinks HE'S King of Israel right now!
For a list of all of Jesse's sons, see I Chronicles 2:13-15.
Sometimes only good music will do! (I Samuel 16:14-23)
14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.
17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.
19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which IS with the sheep.
20 And Jesse took an ass LADEN WITH BREAD, AND A BOTTLE OF WINE, AND A KID, AND SENT THEM by David his son unto Saul.
21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
23 And it came to pass, when the EVIL spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
I Samuel 16:14, "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." Wouldn't you know it, Saul gets a troubled spirit (Hebrew word "rah" translated "evil" doesn't mean "wicked") from the Lord. Most scholars agree that it is likely Saul's symptoms included signs of mental illness during these times. One of his advisors suggests to Saul that some nice music would help. Notice the credentials this advisor lists for David in verse 18, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him." Hey! Doesn't David write his own songs and perform them too? Let's contact his agent (his Dad) and bring him in. With his other qualities, he can double as a body guard.
Just as prescribed, when David played, "Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." How ironic; the man God has chosen to ascend to the throne of Israel has been chosen by Saul and his advisors to become Saul's new therapist (so to speak). And David had a soothing effect on Saul; we see in verse 23, "And it came to pass, when the EVIL spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." Whenever Saul displayed these symptoms, David was the answer. How convenient that the next king of Israel should, unknowingly to Saul, serve in such a capacity.
1 Now 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.
2 And 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.
3 And 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.
4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5 And 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.
6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
7 And 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.
8 And 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.
9 If 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.
10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
12 ¶ Now 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.
13 And 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.
14 And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.
15 But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.
17 And 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;
18 And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
20 And 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.
21 For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.
22 And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.
23 And 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.
24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
25 And 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.
26 And 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?
27 And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.
28 And 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.
29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
30 And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.
31 ¶ And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.
32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
33 And 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.
34 And 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:
35 And 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.
36 Thy 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.
37 David 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.
38 And 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.
39 And 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.
40 ¶ And 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.
41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.
42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.
43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44 And 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.
45 Then 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.
46 This 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.
47 And 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.
48 ¶ And 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.
49 And 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.
50 So 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.
51 Therefore 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.
52 And 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.
53 And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.
54 And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.
55 And 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.
56 And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.
57 And 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.
58 And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.
Goliath was big...really big! With a cubit (the length of the forearm - elbow to finger tip) being estimated at 16 to 20 inches, Goliath was somewhere between 8 1/2 feet to 11 feet tall. His armor weighed 125 pounds - a really, really big man. Oh, one more thing...he hated Israelis - came out and mocked them every day (cold-war tactics) for 40 days. While Saul and the army were on the front lines, David returned to watch his father's sheep.
One day David goes to see his three brothers on the battlefield for the purpose of taking them some food and returning to their father with a report of their safety. While there on the battlefield, David catches a performance of Goliath's stand-up Jew-mocking act; everybody in the Israeli army is terrified; David is fumed! David cries out in verse 26, "And 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?" This causes David's oldest brother, Eliab, to take a couple of insulting verbal swings at him.
Notice the big reward in verse 25, "...the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his fathers house free in Israel." INSTANT SUCCESS! But apparently...no takers. You gotta love David's reaction to this whole scenario when David says in verse 25, "...for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Now that's what I'm talkin' about! And...when rebuked by his brother, he replies in verse 29, "Is there not a cause?"
It should be noted here that we were told that Saul himself was quite tall - a good foot or so taller than other Hebrews (I Samuel 9:2, see notes). Wouldn't Saul be the logical choice to go out and fight Goliath? We know Saul was a tall man, though a little advanced in years at this point. I Samuel 15 (see above) may have been the place where God turned his back on Saul's kingship, but here's where David begins to receive honor from the people of Israel over Saul. This is definitely a turning point...if David can pull this near-impossible feat off.
But when Saul heard that little David said he could do the job, he's impressed...and perhaps a little amused. Though David had been playing soothing music to Saul, it would seem that Saul didn't really know who David was. Musicians can't get any respect. When he meets David, he's not very impressed as is seen in verse 33, "And 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."
"So...son...have you done any fighting before?" David gives Saul his battle resume in verses 34-35 before he just oozes with confidence in verse 36 as he proclaims that he can take Goliath just as easily. Well...why not give him a shot at it - add "giant slayer" to David's resume. David tries to wear the heavy armor with the big ol' sword - not for him...at least not today. Remember his resume? He was a slinger...and apparently a good one - chooses five stones and heads out to meet Goliath.
In verse 43 and following, we see the technique that has been copied by schoolyard bullies and even NFL players down through the centuries - intimidation with words and a special "cursing" by his lame gods. Today it's called "trash talk." David trumps it though - does the same thing back, but invokes the name of Jehovah with his reply. They rush toward one another - sling, sling, sling, BOOM! Goliath catches one right between the eyes - DEAD! The Philistines scatter. David removes Goliath's own sword with which he severs his head and carries that giant's big ol' surprised face around with him, using his nappy locks as handles, showing it off for quite some time after that - a trophy, you see. Saul's army is rejuvenated, "And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines." Saul's army, with a new confidence now, defeats the remaining Philistines that day. When Saul has David brought before him for due congratulations, David's still carrying that big, bloody Goliath head. Hey! When you're proud, you're proud!
Verse 54 has caused some confusion among Bible scholars. Jerusalem was a Jebusite city at this point in time. David did not conquer Jerusalem until II Samuel 5 (see notes). Yet, we are told here, "And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent." Jerusalem was a well-fortified city, but it could be that David deposited the head of Goliath in Jerusalem outside the wall in plain site of the Jebusites as a statement that the Jebusites were not to escape Israel's future advances. I prefer that understanding of the verse over others that have been suggested.