1 Samuel 17
The Valley of Elah
Pictures of the Glorious Work of Jesus Christ
This series comes after our evaluation of the Ten Commandments found in the book of Deuteronomy. It is hard to think of a more propitious time for it to come about. If one understands the typology of what is being portrayed here in 1 Samuel 17, he can then see how marvelous it is in relation to those Ten Commandments – and indeed the whole Law of Moses – that brought such great trouble upon Israel.
This doesn’t mean that the law is sin. In asking that question – “Is the law sin?” – Paul answers, “Certainly not!” However, if you watch those sermons on the Ten Commandments. You will see exactly why they brought such calamity upon Israel.
The problem does not rest in what the Lord gave to Israel. Rather, the problem rests within each person of Israel. It is a problem that finds its source in our first father, Adam, and it is a problem that actually affects all of us, but which is highlighted in Israel…
Text Verse: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:1-5
Paul says that God sent forth His Son to redeem those who were under the law. If Israel had the law, then why do they need to be redeemed from the law? One must understand Paul’s entire argument from the book of Galatians in order to understand why this is so.
Conveniently, we are – right now – going through the book of Galatians in our Thursday night Bible studies. You are welcome to join us live streaming, or catch up on the recorded YT videos. But please understand that the law is not a means to an end. It is a means to a dead end. That is clearly presented in 1 Samuel 17. We will see this today, and how we can avoid being stuck there.
As far as that goes, verse 54 of this passage has a curious note about the head of Goliath being taken to Jerusalem by David. My friend Walter was curious about this a year or so ago and emailed me. I told him I had no idea what was being pictured, and I am glad I didn’t tell him I would get him a quick answer.
It only became fully evident on the day I typed this sermon, after more than fifty or so intense hours of study, and many more hours of thinking on what I had studied over the past month plus. We’ll hope he is watching so that he can finally see what it signifies.
I will say this now, it is perfectly in line with what I have already told you concerning the law. Such great truths as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
*****What has been presented to us in 1 Samuel 17 is a snapshot from history of a real event, but which has been used by God to reveal to us pictures of the greater story found in the redemptive narrative of the Bible. This is an ongoing means of conveying biblical truths. Genesis was filled with such typological and pictorial stories.
Likewise, the other books of the Law of Moses contained them at various points as well. They continue in the historical writings of Joshua, Judges, and so on. The entire book of Ruth also reveals such truths. Historical narratives are particularly disposed to serving in this way.
They can, and often do, reveal four set purposes – 1) A literal, historical record of what occurred. 2) A moral lesson is conveyed. 3) Prophetic messages are often included. And, 4) Typological/pictorial truths of other things are seen.
Most sermons on the story of David and Goliath dwell particularly on the second purpose, meaning a moral lesson for believers. However, in solely following this approach true gems of what God is showing us are missed. Today, we will dig through the story, seeking them out.
What we have here is a concise picture of the ultimate battle that is explicitly stated in Scripture – that of the redemption of man. There are two great foes who face off in this battle, the Messiah and the serpent. In this battle, there are weapons of warfare, but there is one major weapon that will bring about the total defeat of humanity by the serpent, or the total vindication of humanity by the Messiah. That weapon is the law.
This battle began in the first pages of the redemptive narrative. The Lord created man. After his creation, man was given law. It was a single command, stated in the negative. It is the first words recorded as being spoken by God to man –
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:16, 17
Just a few short verses later, right at the beginning of Genesis 3, the serpent is introduced. Using the law as his tool, he deceives the woman, she partook of the forbidden fruit, and then gave it to her husband. In this, the spiritual connection between God and man was severed, and death entered the world.
The serpent gained the victory in this skirmish, but it is only a single battle in a greater and ongoing war. This is certain because a Victor was promised by the Lord –
“So the Lord God said to the serpent:
‘Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.’” Genesis 3:14, 15
The Messiah, the Christ, is promised. He will be the Seed of the woman, and He will bruise the head of the serpent. 1 Samuel 17 is given as a snapshot of that event. The great warrior of Israel, King David, is given as a typological representative of the coming Messiah. Goliath is portrayed as the serpent. This is the overall theme. But the details reveal so much more.
The Philistines are the enemies of the people of God. Their name comes from, palash, signifying to roll in the dust as an act of mourning. They are the Grievers. It is reminiscent of the curse upon the serpent who was destined to eat dust all his days. They, being aligned with him, are those who roll in the dust. One can see a hint of the curse upon Adam in this –
“For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
Because of following the serpent, man will return to the dust he came from. But there is more. His body will be dust, but his soul will be consigned to Sheol, the pit. In the spot where the Philistines set up for battle, several names are given – Sochoh, Azekah, Judah, and Ephes Dammim. Each name gives a hint of what is being pictured.
Sochoh signifies a Hedge or Fence. It is a boundary. Azekah signifies a place which is tilled. As we saw, the root of that, azaq is found only in Isaiah 5:2. There the Lord said –
“Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.” Isaiah 5:2, 3
There is a place set apart by the Lord, hedged in, and which is tilled and expectant of a good harvest, but it does not come about. It implies the people are ineffective in accomplishing what the Lord intended for the place. Ephes Dammin, or Boundary of Blood Drops, signifies a place where life ends. The life, according to Scripture, is in the blood. These are in the land of Judah, or Praise.
Saul is next introduced. His name signifies “Asked For,” but as we saw, it is identical in spelling to Sheol, or the pit. As the leader of Israel, it is typologically revealing that the pit, at this time, is the true leader of the people. In other words, he represents humanity – destined for the pit.
The serpent had deceived the first man, and all were destined to follow their leader to the same place. One might even view him as a type of inherited sin, leading the people who are to be redeemed in the wrong direction. The pit asks for, and receives, those destined to perish. Can this be corrected?
Saul and his men are said to be “men of Israel.” Israel means, “He strives with God.” It is a double entendre – Israel strives with God (for God) or with God (against God). Either way, Israel strives with God. The difference between the two will be seen in the army of Saul, and the shepherd who fights the battle by himself. The first strive against; the latter for.
Saul and his men encamped at emeq ha’elah, or “Valley of the Terebinth.” Based on the root words, one could paraphrase this as, “Depth of the Mighty.” On both sides, the forces stand on the mountains.
Mountains in the Bible have various meanings, but ultimately, they picture forms of government. There is, in Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord. Babylon, in Jeremiah 51, is called the “destroying mountain.” One can imagine two forces vying for control of man’s destiny, following two different governmental forms in order to effect their purposes.
Between them is the ravine. It is a different word, gai, than the emeq, or valley, already mentioned. It comes from gevah, meaning exaltation. That comes from gaah, exaltation or triumph.
At this point, Goliath is introduced. His name signifies who he is. He is the Exposer, but also the Exiler. He typifies the serpent, as will become more and more clear. The serpent exposes man’s weakness, and inevitably leads man into sin and thus exile from God. Just as the serpent, using the law, deceived Adam and Eve thus uncovering to them the fact that they were naked and leading them into separation from God.
Here, Goliath, a type of the serpent, has come to expose the weakness of Israel, the people of God’s law who continually fail to meet that standard, but from whom is anticipated the promised Seed. If He – the Promised One – can be defeated, all Israel will be forever exiled.
Goliath is said to be from Gath, or “Winepress.” In the Bible, the winepress is figuratively used as a place of the destruction of one’s enemies, just as grapes are stomped and crushed, so is this destroyer from such a place. In both the Old and New Testaments, it figuratively speaks of the destruction of humans as they are trodden out in battle. (see: Lam 1:15, Joel 3:13, Revelation 14:19, 20).
In the narrative, he is called benayim, or “the middleman.” He is the one to take the space between the two parties, challenging the opponent. It is reflective of what it says about him elsewhere –
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The devil’s purpose was met at the beginning, and to him every new soul born to man is possibly the Seed of the woman. But which will it be, and will He truly be able to prevail? Like the devil, Goliath is there to expose the failings in man. His height is carefully described – six cubits and a span.
First, the term used to describe his height, govah, was introduced into Scripture at this time. It signifies loftiness, or height, but it is figuratively used to speak of pride, such as in 2 Chronicles 32:26. Using this word to describe his height was purposeful. The sin of the devil is described by Paul in 1 Timothy where it states the qualifications of an overseer –
“…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:6
As we saw, six is the number of MAN as destitute of God, without God, without Christ. The added note of a zereth, or span, which comes from a root signifying “to scatter,” or “winnow,” is given to indicate that he is the one who receives the man who is so without Christ and thus winnowed from humanity. That is seen in the words of John the Baptist when speaking of the One who will accomplish that process –
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17
The bronze on him speaks of judgment. He is literally covered with bronze from head to foot. The bronze kova, or helmet covers his head signifying judgment upon his head. Of the Lord, however, Isaiah 59:17 describes His helmet as a “helmet of salvation.” It is a complete contrast between the two, because a helmet of salvation is not a physical thing, but rather spiritual.
As typologically interesting as that is, it is the appearance of his main covering that reveals the most vivid typology. He is arrayed in qasqeseth, or “scale” armor. It is a picture of the judgment pronounced upon the serpent, a reptile that is covered in scales.
In this, we have a picture from earlier in Scripture when Moses was told to make a bronze representation of a fiery serpent and place it on a pole. Any who were bit by serpents in the wilderness could look to the serpent and live. To understand the significance of that marvelous passage, please be sure to read or watch that particular sermon from our posts.
In this passage, Goliath is clearly given as a type of this serpent. His implements are noted as first a kidon, or javelin. That comes from kid, meaning calamity or misfortune. It is what the devil brings upon man.
Next was named the spear, but its description was highly unusual, saying, v’khats khanito – “And arrow his spear.” It was further described as v’lahevet khanito, “and flame his spear.” What is being portrayed here is what Paul magnificently describes in Ephesians 6 –
“In addition to having clothed yourselves with these things, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16 (ISV)
He is also protected by a shield-bearer, meaning he knows he is not indestructible, but he must be protected beyond his own abilities. It reveals a weakness in him. With this description complete, the account then comes to the words of his challenge.
He begins by noting that he is, in fact, a Philistine, one who rolls in the dust. He is completely covered in bronze. His scales are those of a snake. And so on. He is given as a type of the serpent whose judgment was to go forth on his belly in the dust. In this typology, he calls out for Israel to provide their own champion.
In his challenge, he cried out the words, Beru lakem ish v’yered elay – “Eat (you all) for yourselves man and come down to me.” As we saw, the word, barah, translated by Bibles as “discern” or “choose,” literally means “to eat,” and it is always translated that way except here.
It calls out for a spiritual understanding. Who will eat of the Man who can defeat me? In John 6, the answer is given. First, in John 5, Jesus said that all of Scripture speaks of Him. He then referred to the antichrist who Israel would receive instead of receiving Him. Then in John 6, he got to the heart of the matter, saying –
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:53, 54
For us, who know the outcome, the question is, “Who will eat of the Man who challenges and defeats the serpent?” Goliath’s challenge is one of total ownership. If we lose, we will be your servants. If you lose, you will be our servants. The battle is for rule of the servants of Saul or rule over the armies of Goliath. In type, it is a spiritual battle for the souls of man – all who are destined for the pit (as typified by Saul/Sheol).
Can they be saved from that state, or will the devil retain control over them in that state forever? Can a champion be brought forth to defeat the devil and redeem man from Sheol? They need a hero to save them from the pit as he cries out ani kheraphti eth maarkot Yisrael – “I strip bare the ranks of Israel.”
He knows none can prevail. They are as the sheaves in the field that are easily cut down. Their history has proven it, the record of Israel’s failure to meet the law of God has condemned them. As Jeremiah says –
“The harvest is past,
The summer is ended,
And we are not saved!” Jeremiah 8:20
This is where our first sermon ended. Israel had no champion, and they continued to die. The pit was never sated by what it received. But then! A name was introduced into the narrative, David – “Beloved.” He is noted as the son of Yishai, or Jesse, meaning “Yehovah Exists.”
His home is Ephrath, or Frutiful, which is in Bethlehem – meaning both “House of Bread” and “House of War.” The irony of the two names being fulfilled in Christ is not to be missed. He is both the provider of bread for His people (the true Manna of John 6), and He is the One who is mighty in battle (such as in Psalm 24:8).
His tribe is Judah, or Praise. He is the eighth son, the number of both superabundance and of “New Beginnings.” As we saw, he had been anointed king in place of Saul in Chapter 16. The play on words was important.
The root of both oil and eight is the same. He is the anointed, and he is the eighth. He typifies Messiah – the One to make all things new. He will make fruitful (Ephrath) that which is barren, and He is the Praise (Judah) of God and of His people. He is the Son of the Father – Yehovah Exists. He is the One to make known the divine revelation of God – that He is taking a people unto Himself as a bride through Christ.
Next in the narrative, his three oldest brothers, the greats (ha’gedolim), are named – Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. David is then contrasted to them, being called the youngest (ha’qatan). That comes from qut, which signifies “to feel a loathing.” They are the greats; he is despised.
They picture the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes noted in the gospels – representatives of the people in religious matters. I will explain that more later. In following after Saul (Sheol), it means they are exactly as Jesus described them, those who look for converts and then make them twice as much a son of hell. As it said, “And the three oldest followed Saul.” Instead of pursuing that which leads to life, they pursued that which leads to death.
In contrast to them, David pictures Jesus who – as Isaiah says – was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3). With that thought in mind, the narrative returned to Goliath and his challenges, presenting himself to Israel in challenge for forty days. Forty signifies “…a period of probation, trial, and chastisement” (EW Bullinger).
It speaks of the duration of Israel’s history until the coming of Christ. They were tried. Could any come forward and defeat the serpent? The Old Testament bears out that the answer is, “No.”
At the same time that Goliath is referred to, the account specifically noted that he defied them, “morning and evening.” This was a challenge to Israel each time they observed the morning and evening prayers. The sacrifices of Israel would be made, the Shema, would be recited by the people, and Goliath would defy them. And nobody would come forward. Someone else would have to enter the narrative.
But, surprisingly, someone had actually entered the narrative from time to time. In verse 15, it said, “David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.” This is a true statement of Jesus. He appeared on behalf of the Father throughout the Old Testament.
He walked up to Abraham in Genesis 18, where He is clearly called Yehovah, the Lord. He wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32. He appeared to Joshua in Joshua 5 as the Commander of the Lord’s army. He appeared to Gideon in Judges 6, and to the parents of Samson in Judges 13. The Lord went and returned many times prior to His ultimate battle with Satan, pictured by the events at David’s arrival at the camp.
Just at this climactic point, Jesse told David to take the supplies to his brothers and to their captain, check on how they were doing, and – as it says – v’eth arubatam tiqah – “and pledges bring back.” The shepherd was being asked to personally carry any debt of his brothers so that payment could be made.
Instead of just saying, “Take some food to your brothers,” David was specifically instructed to take an ephah of dried grain and ten loaves of bread to his brothers. Also, he was to take ten cheeses (literally, “milk”) to the captain of their thousand. As we saw, one ephah equates to ten omers. Thus, we have:
10 omers of grain
10 loaves of bread
10 cheeses (milk)
The number ten signifies the perfection of divine order. It implies that nothing is wanting, that the number and order are perfect, and that the whole cycle is complete (Bullinger). The Son is to carry bread from the House of Bread for his brothers at the exact time when it is needed. It calls to mind the words of our text verse –
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5
Christ, the true Manna and the Bread of Life came at the precise moment appointed by His Father, being born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. Further, milk is equated to pure and basic doctrine in the Bible –
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1, 2
In instructing 10 milks be given to the captain, we can look at this as typologically saying that the basic word of the Lord is provided to the leaders. From this, they should be able to perceive who Christ is when He comes. Christ, the Bread, and the word which reveals Christ, were fully presented when the fullness of time had come. Nothing was lacking for Israel to know who He was and to accept Him.
In verse 20, it then says that he came to the magalah, or camp. As we saw, the word comes from agol, or round. That comes from an unused root meaning to revolve, circular, and thus round. This speaks of the incarnation of Christ, coming to our circular, revolving, planet on a mission.
The divine Son of God came, born to Jesse (Yehovah Exists), in Ephrath (Fruitful), which is Bethlehem (House of Bread/War), into the tribe of Judah (Praise), and of the people Israel (He strives with God). Every word speaks of Him. He came to the earth on a mission –
- To bring needed supplies (boy are we in need),
- To determine the people’s welfare (have we saved ourselves yet?), and
- To carry the debt of His brothers (a debt we cannot pay).
When David arrives. The battle lines are drawn up. When Christ arrived, the same was true! It says, he first inquired about how his brothers were doing, how is their peace? His main concern, even at the risk of exposing himself to danger, was the welfare of his brothers. The same is true with Christ.
At that time, the Philistine had come forward to challenge any and all who heard, including David now. The same is true with Christ. He was among the multitudes of Israel, each in his own battle with prevailing over sin and being found not worthy.
The devil challenged Christ after forty days in the wilderness through the three temptations recorded in the gospels. The parallel between the two accounts is given to confirm that Christ is the fulfillment of the typology.
At the challenge to Israel by Goliath, it said, “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.” As we noted, the word “man” was singular. Every person in the battle failed to meet the challenge. The words call forth the somber words of Revelation 5 –
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.” Revelation 5:1-3
None were found worthy because all were held captive by sin. Who would come forward to meet the challenge? It is at this time that the offer of Saul is brought to David’s ears. It consisted of three things –
- Great riches,
- A daughter of the king, and
- Exemption in Israel.
It was at this time that our second sermon came to a close. There is the arrival of David (Beloved) the Son of Yehovah Exists. There is the failure of anyone in the ranks of Israel to step forward and accept the challenge. And, there is the stated promise of reward for a victor over the foe. The tone is somber, and yet… hopeful.
Verse 28 opened our third sermon with immediate words of contempt from eliav akhiv ha’gadol – “Eliab, brother the great.” He immediately shows disdain for his youngest brother. He asked, “Why did you come down (yarad) here? So it was with the “greats,” meaning the leaders of Israel. The name Eliab means, “My God is Father.”
He would then typify the Pharisees who so strongly challenged Christ. As it says in John 8 –
“Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’
42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.’” John 8:41, 42
John 1 says that Christ came to His own and His own did not receive Him. Instead, they heaped abuse upon Him. They rejected the Shepherd who came down (explaining yarad) at His Father’s bidding. It is the same attitude displayed by Joseph’s brothers in Genesis, and which also, very clearly, pictured their rejection of Christ.
The poignant nature of Eliab’s words is highlighted by the fact that he uses the word yarad, or “come down,” twice in one verse. “Why have you come down?” “You have come down to see the battle.” It is an accusation against the One who claimed to be Messiah. “If you are the Messiah, then what are you standing around for? Be the Messiah!”
Israel looked for a Messiah to cast off Roman rule. That is not what Christ came to do. He came to destroy a much deadlier foe. It is, however, at this time that Saul hears of David’s words and calls for him. One can think of Sheol calling out. “Nobody else had prevailed, can this One?”
David’s words of prevailing were heard and noted. Christ’s demonstrations of raising the dead were likewise heard and noted. If He can raise the dead, can He prevail over death? The parallels are given to show us the marvel of what Christ would accomplish.
When David was brought before Saul, his words were, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him.” We noted then that the words “man” and “men” are used about 20 times in the chapter. However, this is the only time that the word adam is used, rather than ish. It speaks of the state of being human.
From the very fall itself, the Lord promised to redeem adam, or man. Humanity needed to be redeemed from the power of the serpent. David anticipates Christ who would do just that. Jesus took on our humanity to do what no other in Adam could do.
At that time, David said, “your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Likewise, Christ came to fight and prevail over the devil. And, as we noted concerning his words to Saul, what David did in speaking as he did was to set himself apart from not only every other man in Israel whose hearts had failed them, but above the Philistine as well.
If David elevated himself above the Philistine, and none other in Israel was willing to challenge the Philistine, then – by default – David was not only set apart from all of Israel, but he is above all of Israel as well. This is perfectly reflected in Jesus’ words of John 10 –
“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 36do you say about the one whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? John 10:34-36 (NET Bible)
After listening to David’s words, he consented to allow him to go forward and accept the challenge. As we noted then, if the agreement stood that the loser would become the servants of the victor, Saul was tying up the fortunes of the entire nation with his consent. That is exactly the truth concerning Jesus Christ. If Christ did not prevail, all humanity would belong to the devil, forever.
But David went forth, and Christ also went forth. David was first offered the garments and weapons of the king, including a bronze helmet and other items of war, as well as Saul’s sword. But he found that they were not suited to the battle he would wage. He was trained to battle against beasts using much less, and he was willing to do so again as he had done before. In this, he laid aside the warrior’s garments.
As we noted though, there was a deeper meaning here. David used the word nasah, to prove or test. It is the same word that was used when Israel “tested” the Lord at the waters of Massah in Exodus 17. The people failed to trust that the Lord would provide almost immediately after they had been brought out of Egypt.
David was referring to the implements of war, but he had already said that it is the Lord who would deliver him. David would not test the Lord by wearing implements of warfare that he had not brought with him, and by which the Lord had already protected him.
Likewise, Jesus used only the weapons that He came to visit us with – the implements of His warfare – meaning holding fast to the word of God. He spoke right out of the book of Deuteronomy, when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt (nasah) the Lord your God.’” (Dueteronomy 6:16/Matthew 4:7)
In the same manner, Christ refused to employ the heavenly armaments available to Him. Speaking to His disciples, He said –
“Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” Matthew 26:52-54
He knew the battle had to be won on His own and only through the power of the Lord. A bronze helmet, one of judgment, would mean he would fail. But with the helmet of the Lord’s salvation, He would prevail. And rather than a sword, He went forth with only the implements of a Good Shepherd. Indeed, nothing else would suffice.
In David’s hand was a staff, just as a shepherd would carry. He then went to the nakhal, or wadi, and picked up five (the number of grace) smooth stones. Nakhal is a word that comes from the verb nakhal, meaning to take as a heritage or to inherit. Christ went forward to retake what had belonged to the devil. The devil said to Christ in His temptation –
“All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 4:6, 7
Christ, instead of receiving what the devil offered and usurping the will of His Father, refused the temptation. He set about to regain what was lost by holding solely to the will and word of God. In refusing the three temptations, He three times cited, instead, words from the book of Deuteronomy, stating, “It is written.”
Concerning the act of going to the river and picking up five smooth stones, the symbolism in the words is magnificent. The adjective khaluq, or smooth, comes from a word signifying, “to divide.” The word even, or stone, comes from the root of banah, or “to build.” And, as we saw, nakhal signifies to take as a heritage or to inherit.
Christ went forward to divide what Sheol possessed, some for redemption and some for condemnation. What He would inherit, He would then build into something new. And all of this would be through an act of grace.
Once he had obtained these stones, it rather oddly noted that he put them into his shepherd’s bag and into a pouch which he had. The note concerning the pouch seems completely superfluous. When something like that is noted, it then asks us to try to figure it out – why two things?
If Christ refused the devil’s temptations by citing the word of God, then it is by the word of God that the devil is defeated. As David placed the five stones into the bag, then we can logically assume that the things David will use to defeat Goliath picture the word of God.
Thus, the shepherd’s bag would be the word. The pouch within it would be a portion of the word. As Christ cited Deuteronomy, a part of the Law of Moses, the fives stones in the separate pouch would be the five books of Moses. For now, David puts the fives stones into the pouch (the Torah or Pentateuch) in his bag and moves forward.
This is where our third sermon ended. It was in high anticipation of what lay ahead. As we opened the fourth sermon, we saw that it was David who had entered the land held by the enemy. The comparable, but veiled, analogy is that of death.
As I noted when we looked at verse 44, Goliath had not moved away from his side of the ravine, and so no Israelite would dare come and carry David away if he was killed. In Goliath’s mind, then, David was already dead and of no threat at all.
One can see the cross of Christ in this. As He hung there, the battle seemed all but over to the devil. Christ was entering into the enemy’s territory. Surely death had its victory, and Sheol was soon to be enlarged with the Son of God. But we know better.
David went forward on the offense into the enemy’s territory, Christ when forward into it on the offense as well. At the time of the morning sacrifice, when Goliath came forward to taunt Israel, the gospels tell us Christ was crucified. At the time of the afternoon sacrifice, they then tell us He died on the cross.
The twice-daily tauntings of Goliath are set in contrast to this six-hour period that Christ went forth against the enemy – Satan. Both David and Christ had gone forward, unafraid, to a place no other person of Israel dared to go. Both were cut off from Israel at this point; each was dead to them once they had crossed over, and nothing could restore them again but the Lord.
At this time, it says that the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David. It was at this time that they exchanged words. But of key interest is what David – the young shepherd boy from Bethlehem –
says, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with 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 defied.”
A more fitting description of this could not be found than what is cited about the coming Redeemer by the prophet Micah –
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
3 Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
5 And this One shall be peace. Micah 5:2-5
After their exchange of words, Goliath continued to draw near, but it also says that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Imagine it! The devil felt confident in his victory, Christ even more so. The urgency of David’s movement shows us the determination of Christ.
As he moved forward, David took out one of the smooth stones and slung it at the Philistine. As we saw in the earlier verses, the only fighting implement that was made by David was the sling. If the stones picture the Law of Moses, then this is telling us that we cannot rightly use the law unless we know the law.
We make our sling, be it a good one or a bad one, and we hurl forth our knowledge of the word with it. It is our offensive weapon in a spiritual battle. In the case of David, he slung his stone, it sank into Goliath’s forehead, and down he went, face first. The forehead, as we saw, is the place of identification. David identified himself with Yehovah, Goliath identified against Him. The Lord won the battle.
The same is true with Christ. He only needed one stone in His rebukes to the devil, Deuteronomy. But He possessed the whole law because He embodies it. The stone, being smooth (and coming from a word signifying “to divide), indicates Christ’s rightly dividing the word of God. When the devil tempted Him, he twisted God’s word. Jesus turned and properly cited it, dividing it properly.
From there, it says that David prevailed over the Philistine with the sling and the stone. If you remember The Hebrew literally reads, “and stronger David from the Philistine in the sling and in the stone.” The strength of David is placed in the sling and in the stone. It is through this means that Lord won the victory.
The idea is that the sling had to be used properly, and the stone had to hit its target. It is just how Christ prevailed over the devil by rightly using the word of God. Anyone can quote Scripture, but not everyone rightly does so. But Christ – who gave Scripture to us – always used it with exacting purpose.
At this time, it then carefully noted that David had killed the Philistine in this manner but there was no sword in his hand – meaning his own sword.
Rather, we then come to the second note of Goliath’s death. David withdrew Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head with it. The typological theology connected to this one thought – David cutting off Goliath’s head – is so advanced and complicated, that we can only touch on what it is picturing.
First, in this, which is verse 51, it uses two words that must be evaluated. The first is sword, and the second is cut.
The Hebrew word for sword is kherev. It is identical to the word Khorev, or Horeb, meaning the same mountain where the law was received, Sinai. Both come from the same root kharav, meaning to be dried, or dried up. Thus, figuratively, it means to desolate, destroy, and kill.
The second word, cut, is karath. It simply means “to cut,” but it is the word used when cutting a covenant. For example, it was used in Exodus 24:8 when referring to the covenant at Sinai, meaning Horeb –
“Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.’ 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” Exodus 24:7, 8
David took Goliath’s kherev and karat off his head. It is a picture of Christ cutting the New Covenant, thus annulling the old (Horeb) covenant. In other words, what we are seeing here is Jesus using the law (David using Goliath’s own sword) to cut off the power of the devil by cutting (karat) a New Covenant with Israel –
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:31-33
The cutting of the New Covenant is in Christ’s death – through His shed blood. But the shed blood was in fulfillment of the Mosaic Law (the law from Horeb). That is not a law of life, but a law of death. This was actually spoken of by Isaiah –
“Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we are in agreement.
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
It will not come to us,
For we have made lies our refuge,
And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”
16 Therefore thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.
17 Also I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the plummet;
The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
And the waters will overflow the hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled,
And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
When the overflowing scourge passes through.” Isaiah 28:14-18
Paul speaks of this in detail in his epistles. The law does not bring life, but death. This is what the serpent knew and did to Adam and Eve. He used law to bring about death. The Law of Moses was given to Israel to teach this truth to the world. Paul explains this in his epistles. Speaking of law in Romans 7, he says –
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” Romans 7:7-11
Life cannot come through the law. Even though holy, it is the devil’s tool to bring death in man because no man can meet the demands of the law. As Paul says elsewhere, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).
Even for those who love God’s law, it is impossible for them to live by it. Because we sin, meaning “miss the mark” of God’s standard. This is the lesson of Israel. They were placed under the law as an example. In this, the law then was a tutor to lead us to Christ. As Paul says again in Romans 7 –
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:21-25
This takes us back to the five stones. The law, as used by Christ, is our grace. Even if we cannot meet the demands of the law, He could – and He did. He only needed one stone to defeat the serpent. He did not sin. Rather, He hit his mark perfectly with just one stone. However, He possessed the grace of all five – embodying the Law of Moses for us.
The author of Hebrews clearly and poignantly explains for us how Christ did what He did –
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15
The bondage he refers to is the fear of death, death which came through the law. The devil, through the law, held humanity within his power because of it. Christ shared in our humanity in order to destroy the devil. This is what is pictured in David’s cutting off the head of Goliath.
Christ’s sharing in our humanity, which the author of Hebrews speaks of, is pictured in the words of verse 42, which said, that Goliath distained David, and that David “was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking.” As noted then, both words were used in the account of Esau despising his birthright.
Esau, in that account, pictured Adam. Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ came as the last Adam. Adam was made of dust and he returned to the dust. Christ put on humanity in order to undo what Adam had fouled up. Thus, the description of David as red, is given to show us Christ’s incarnation as this “last Adam.”
As I said, the theology of this one act could fill many books, but to know and understand this more, we are going through the book of Deuteronomy at the Superior Word. After completing this sermon, we will go back there. In it, all of this theology is made evident – from the law itself. But for now, suffice it to say, “Thank God for Jesus Christ!”
One important point to consider, and which inevitably causes scholar and preacher alike confusion is that it uses the same Hebrew word, translated as “killed,” twice. David “killed” him with the sling and the stone, and no sword was in his hand. And, David “killed” him when he cut off his head. How can he have killed him twice?
The reason for the specificity is because Christ twice killed the power of Satan. He did it through the proper use of the word, defeating Him through His sinless nature, and He did it through fulfillment of the law, both in annulling the power of the law – Satan’s tool for deceiving man – and cutting a New Covenant at the same time through His own death.
In the account, after the killing of Goliath, it says all the Philistines fled while Israel pursued them. With the power of Satan defeated, the hosts of the Lord – His people – can now wage the spiritual battle, destroying the power of the enemy. This is explained, for example, in Ephesians 6 where both defensive and offensive terminology is given.
This battle, and its results, are revealed in the names provided. Israel chased the enemy to Ekron. It means Uprooting or Destroying. That is what we now do to the enemy when we share the gospel, and when it is accepted by those who hear it.
As we saw in that verse, Ekron is noted in 2 Kings 1:2 as the location of the god Baal-Zebub, a false deity that Jesus then equates with the ruler of demons in Matthew 12:24. Neither the ruler of demons, nor all of his minions, has power against the presentation of the gospel.
After that, it then said that the wounded fell along the road to Shaaraim. Shaaraim means “Two Gates.” It is exactly what Jesus referred to concerning the victory which lay ahead when His work would be complete –
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
In His words, Jesus was not saying that Peter was the rock on which His church would be built. He was saying that the proclamation that Peter made would be the rock. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
It is this proclamation, that the Messiah had come and accomplished His work, upon which Christ’s church would be built. And in this, the Shaariam, or gates of Hades could not prevail against it. This is exactly what King Hezekiah was referring to as recorded in Isaiah 38 –
‘In the prime of my life
I shall go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the remainder of my years.’
11 I said,
‘I shall not see Yah,
The Lord in the land of the living;
I shall observe man no more among the inhabitants of the world.’” Isaiah 38:10, 11
He said, elekhah b’shaare sheol – “I shall go in gates of hell.” There he uses the same word for gates, shaare, as that of Shaaraim, or “Two Gates,” and the word sheol, or “hell,” that Saul is picturing. Man was destined to enter through those gates and never return. But through the work of Christ, both the gates of Death and Sheol are unlocked. As it says in Revelation 1 –
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18
This is why the name Shaaraim, or “Two Gates,” is mentioned. Christ opened both the gates of Sheol, the pit where the souls of man were confined, and the gates of death, which no man could return to the land of the living through.
The verse further then mentioned Gath, or Winepress. The very winepress that the serpent and his demons had come from in order to trample humanity, is now the winepress of their own destruction.
After the battle, it says that Israel returned and plundered the tents of the enemy. This is what we continue to do in the church age. We plunder what was once the devil’s, taking it for the church of God. The epistles explain this in various ways.
The next verse then presented the curious words that David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem. No explanation is given, and the actual occurrence is shrouded in mystery. But the symbolism is perfectly clear. It is explained by Paul in Galatians 4 –
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:21-26
The head of Goliath symbolizes the death of the power of the law. The stone embedded in the forehead is Deuteronomy. Saying that the head was taken to Jerusalem is then a witness to those who are under law, symbolized by Jerusalem, that they have missed the effective working of Messiah.
This is why Deuteronomy was recorded after the wilderness wanderings of Israel. The typology of those forty years in the wilderness is fulfilled in the exile of Israel for the past two thousand years. Israel has the witness of the fulfilled law in Christ. They are to accept it and, thus, accept Christ. Until they do, they remain under the power of the devil who is already defeated. Jesus explains it in John 5 –
“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47
Jerusalem means something like “Foundation of Peace,” or “Possession of Peace.” Until those under law accept what Christ has done, they will remain under bondage, and they shall see no peace. This is what the symbolic taking of Goliath’s head to Jerusalem signifies. David, prefiguring Christ, took the token of peace – the ending of the law – there. But it has never been accepted.
The next note then said, “and his goods he put in his tent.” As we saw, that could be taken in one of two ways – David putting Goliath’s goods in his tent, or David putting his goods in Goliath’s tent.
Goliath’s weapons were carnal, not spiritual. It would make more sense for David to put His things in Goliath’s tent, typologically showing that Christ now possesses all of what the devil once possessed. The kingdoms of the world that the devil offered Jesus in the temptation as a quick route to supposed glory was won back by Christ – wholly and completely, and without compromise. As it says in Revelation –
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15
A final note of the head of Goliath is again mentioned in the middle of the final four verses. It is seemingly oddly placed and almost disconnected from the rest of the narrative. During the battle, as David was going out to meet the Philistine, Saul asked whose son David was.
Abner answered that he didn’t know. Saul then said, “Inquire whose son this young man is.” The focus is on who his father is. Saul, whose name means, “Asked For,” and who pictures Sheol – the pit of death – asks Abner, or Father of Light, to shaal, or “ask for” concerning whose son David is. It is a play on words because shaal is the root of the name Saul and of the place Sheol.
It then mentions the words about David’s return from the slaughter, and Abner – Father of Light – taking him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. The Father of Light presented Christ before the pit – “This one has prevailed!”
And again, the focus is on the Father – “Whose son are you, young man?” The pit itself wants to know who brought about this great victory? How could He have defeated death?
The chapter then finishes with the beautiful words, vayomer David ben avdekha yishay beth halakhmi – “And answered David, “Son of your servant Jesse, Bethlehem.”
Without an attempt to abuse the text, but to give meaning to what is said, one could pictorially translate this, “And Beloved said, ‘Son of your servant Yehovah Exists, House of War (or House of Bread).’” In other words, Yehovah became a Servant to the pit, the Beloved Son of the Father – in His incarnation. He came to wage war and defeat the enemy.
The head in David’s hand anticipates the defeat of the devil and the opening of Sheol itself. Sheol, the hungry pit which is never satisfied, surprisingly wanted to know who stopped the flooding inflow of souls. The answer came back. The God/Man – Yehovah incarnate. Paul explains what this means for humanity, meaning for any who call out to Christ in faith –
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 ‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Before we finish today and return to Deuteronomy in the Law of Moses next week, we need to stand back and consider the overall message given to us in this marvelous passage. There is a problem with man. That problem is sin. Sin comes about through law. Without law, sin is not – nor can it be – imputed.
With this in mind, we found in the violation of God’s law, that the wages of sin is death. It is our payment for our transgression. It is what we have earned. God knew this would come about, but He gave law anyway. This, like the giving of the Law of Moses, was instructional. We had to learn the lesson.
One cannot appreciate paradise if he has nothing to contrast it to. Adam and Eve understood this after they lost what they had. But it was too late for them. They could not regain what they had lost. Nor can any of Adam’s seed, born of a man. This is because sin comes through man, from father to child.
In order to resolve this, God sent His Son into the world – born of a woman (but not of a man) and born under the law, to redeem a people unto Himself. The Lord, through Isaiah, was sure to tell us that this was not only a covenant that pertained to Israel, but one which included the Gentiles as well. He said –
“I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
In this New Covenant, grace instead of law is given. With that in mind, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” As the wages of sin is death, and as our sins are forgiven, and as we are no longer imputed sin, then– right now and forever – eternal life is opened to us. This is the word of reconciliation that is pictured in this passage.
David went down to the Valley of Elah and gained victory over the enemy of Israel. Christ came to the Depth of the Mighty in order to gain the victory over our great enemy. Once there, He crossed the gai, or ravine, into enemy territory. But instead of defeat, he obtained gaah, or triumph. For His redeemed, His death was not the end, but the very beginning of an eternal walk in the glory of God’s presence.
The Lord accomplished the victory so that we can have life once again. And so, we must consider the question, “What is it that Christ gained for Himself and for His people in winning this battle?” As we saw, three things were promised to the victor –
- Great riches,
- A daughter of the king, and
- Exemption in Israel.
Each of these was secured by Christ – either for Himself and/or for those who are His people – His family. Christ, through His victory gained the right to all of the riches of heaven and earth. He procured for Himself a bride, and He paid not only the debts of His people, but He has provided exemption from the debt of sin forever. As it says in 2 Corinthians–
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19
What cannot go unstated, because of the rare word arubah, or pledge, which is used in this account, is that it is from the same root as the word eravon, or pledge which is found only in Genesis 38. Both words come from arav – to take on a pledge.
Christ Jesus was sent on a mission to take on the debts of His brothers. When one receives Christ, the payment for the debt is made. In that, a new pledge is made. That would be the word eravon from Genesis 38. Its equivalent is found three times in the New Testament, such as in this verse –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
That Greek word is arrabōn, and it corresponds directly to the Hebrew eravon. Not only does Christ pay our debt, but in doing so, we are given the Holy Spirit as a pledge, a guarantee, of our final glorification. What Christ does isn’t just one-directional. Rather, it goes in both ways. One has the forgiveness of sin, and he also possesses – with a guarantee from God – the surety of eternal salvation.
Think of the enormity of what this means. Reflect on it. And then, do what is right. Accept the offer of peace. The devil is already defeated, but the gift of that victory must be received. May you choose wisely, and may you do so today. Choose Christ – to the glory of God the Father.
Closing Verse: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11