The Faces of David in Goliath’s Defeat

The Faces of David in Goliath’s Defeat

The Christian life is spiritual warfare. Put on the whole armor of God, Paul says, to stand against the devil’s schemes (Eph. 6:11). We fight against cosmic powers and this present darkness (6:12). Following Jesus means resisting principalities. By the Spirit, we “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13), which is the practice called mortification. The story of David is not a mere moral lesson for disciples, but it is relevant for discipleship because of our union with Christ Jesus the Head-Crusher.

There are many well-known narratives connected with David in 1 and 2 Samuel. David gets a spear thrown at him, he flees from Saul, he eats bread from the Table of Bread, he becomes king over all Israel, he receives covenant promises from the Lord, etc.

But perhaps the most famous story with David is his defeat of Goliath the Philistine. David is a young man, Goliath is a mighty warrior, and no one in Israel is brave enough to respond to the warrior’s taunts. Except David. He’s not even a soldier in the battle when he steps forward. He defies Goliath’s defiance, picks up five stones for his sling, and begins to run toward the Philistine warrior.

“And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground” (1 Sam. 17:49).

How might interpreters understand David’s victory over Goliath? More specifically: who is David in this story? Is David (a) David, (b) Christ, or (c) You? The answer is (d)—all of the above.

David Is David

When we read about David killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, we’re reading about the victory of a historical figure. There really was a David who really slung that stone against that warrior who really dropped dead.

But there’s more to say.

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