October 5th, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG | 4


All kinds of interpretations of the David v. Goliath story have abounded in church history.

Let me offer a new one ….

The story points to three elements: the stature, resources, and experience of the main protagonists—the giant and the youth.

The Giant

Goliath’s stature is fearsome: nine feet nine inches tall (17:4).

And then there is the list of his resources, the longest description of military gear in the Old Testament (17:5–7). This huge enemy is therefore well bedecked, overwhelmingly so.

But it was not only Goliath’s stature and resources that were threatening; his considerable experience also rendered him a lethal enemy to tangle with. In fact, King Saul acknowledged that Goliath had been a “man of war from his youth” (17:33).

The Youth

And there’s David.

That David’s older brother, Eliab, was the one who had the “height of stature” that impressed the prophet Samuel suggests that David lacked the respectable stature that Eliab possessed (16:7). David has no stature.

David not only is lacking in stature, he is deficient in resources, too. His inadequacy was explicitly diagnosed by the King Saul: “You are not able … to fight with him” (17:33). David has no resources, either.

And David’s experience? He’s merely a juvenile, only a “son of a man,” not a man himself (17:12), and just a “youth,” as Saul points out (17:33). Goliath agreed; later, the giant is peeved to see that the one who accepted his dare was just a “youth” (17:42). And so David also has no experience.

Everyone in the narrative seems to be swearing by the equation that only stature + resources + experience = success.

Or so everyone thinks. But David—he was different ….

David’s Real Stature: The Heart of God

As we saw, Samuel, when he went to anoint Israel’s next king, was interrupted by Yahweh who declared that while man looks at the “outside,” “Yahweh looks at the heart” (16:7). He then pointed out David. Only such a person was ever described in Scripture as having been “a man after his [God’s] heart” (13:14). This was the stature of David: a heart that God saw and approved, the heart of God himself.

David’s Real Resource: The Name of God

For David, it wouldn’t be the standard kingly resources that would down the giant (17:38–39). Instead, it would be his God—the Name of God (17:45)—who would provide the victory for David: God himself was the youth’s resource.

David’s Real Experience: The Deliverance of God

David’s experience is found in his testimony to Saul about his shepherding past (17:34–37). It was Yahweh who had “delivered” him from the “hand of the lion” and the “hand of the bear,” and it would be Yahweh who would, likewise, “deliver” him from the “hand of this Philistine” (17:37).

With that kind of experience of divine power, what else did one need?

In sum, this is not a story of a top gun versus an underdog, or even King Jesus versus the devil, as some interpreters suggest. Rather, this is a remarkable example of authors doing things with what they are saying.

The theological thrust of the narrative deals the abandonment of reliance upon worldly stature, resources, and experience, as the Christian engages in battle for God. God’s people, instead, develop the stature of a heart for God, exercise faith to engage enemies in the name of God (the ultimate resource), and gain the experience of the power and deliverance of God.

[There are actually a couple more protagonists in the story (the king and the brother). If you are interested in finding out more about all this, check out my recent paper in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society here. Enjoy (or not)!]


  1. Philip Puthenparambil October 16, 2015 at 6:58 am

    I thank God for your single-minded dedication to the furtherance of biblical scholarship so as to glean the golden nuggets contained in the Word of God, while we are , more often than not, sadly fed with the chaff. Our hunger for the Word can truly be satisfied, and it can become alive and active by piercing the depths of soul and spirit in order to conform us to the image of Christ – and all this for God’s glory – which alone, in the final analysis, can bring purpose and meaning to our lives.

    Your article on David and Goliath is a case in point. It is so refreshing to note that the thrust of the text intended by the author for his audience, as you have so well expounded, is stature, resources and experience. God is teaching us to defy these human values through the example of David, the man after His own heart.

    On a personal note, I am proud of you and you exemplify all that is best in the Christian community that the Apostle Thomas founded on the coastal regions of South India so long ago. I believe that it is high time that we who claim such a rich pedigree give back to the world what God has so graciously given us.

    Keep up the good work and may the Lord abundantly bless your ministry.

  2. Josiah Durfee October 7, 2015 at 2:05 am

    Thanks! Great article too, and great website I look forward to explore this page as I’m sure I’ll find it very helpful.


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