Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 17

Goliath’s weapons and David’s weapons

1 Samuel 17:40

Weapons are a soldier’s tools for war. In the ancient world, the right choice of weapon depended on how far away the enemy was.

Goliath had three weapons: a javelin, a spear and a sword. His javelin was a metal pole with a sharp point. He would throw the javelin at an enemy who was running towards him. His spear was a long wooden pole with a sharp metal head. He would push the spear into any enemy whom he could reach.

Goliath’s sword was an extraordinary weapon (21:9). He would use it to kill any enemy who came close to him.

David would later learn to use these weapons (21:8). However, for the fight against Goliath, he was unable to use them. He did not have the experience to do that. Even when he took Goliath’s sword, he used it like a knife, not as a sword (17:51).

The reason was that David was working as a shepherd, not as a soldier (17:15). A shepherd is someone who looks after sheep. As a shepherd, David needed to protect his sheep from wild animals, and he chose weapons for that purpose (17:34-37; 17:43). He would make his own weapons.

So, David had two weapons: a staff and a sling. A staff is a long wooden stick. It would not be as long as Goliath’s spear. Perhaps David hoped that he could use it to defend himself against the spear. A sling was a leather bag with two strings. David would put a stone in it, then he would swing it round his body. With it, he could throw a stone accurately and with great force.

David collected 5 stones for that purpose. His weapons were clearly not as good as Goliath’s weapons. However, David had prepared as well as he could. Now he must trust God, and fight Goliath.

Next part: Goliath insults David (1 Samuel 17:41-44)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.