For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Few portions of Scripture are better known than that which records David’s victory over the Philistine Goliath, 1 Sa 17, but what is less well known is that that conflict is a foreshadowing of the greater victory accomplished at Calvary by David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  That it is such a picture, however, becomes clear as we examine the details.

Goliath means stripped (as a captive), a meaning which is particularly apt in its reference to the one represented by Goliath, Satan.  As the giant headed up the Philistine forces opposing Israel, so does Satan head up the forces of evil arrayed against mankind, saved and unsaved alike; but he is a “stripped” champion, for he who is now the prince of darkness has been stripped of the glory that was once his as Lucifer, the shining one, the anointed cherub.

It is unnecessary to dwell on all the details which constitute David a type of Christ, but it is significant that he was the eighth son of Jesse, for eight is the biblical number of a new beginning.  Apart from that victory accomplished at Calvary the new beginning which is synonymous with a new spiritual birth would be impossible.

In David’s being sent to seek the welfare of his brethren, and to bring them bread,    none will have difficulty discerning the figure of the Lord’s being sent to seek the welfare of His brethren, and to bring them “bread,” for it was as the true Bread that He presented Himself unto them.

The assurances of verse 25 are but a condensation of the promises of Scripture relative to the man who would defeat Satan, “... the man who killeth him (Goliath), the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.”  Christ is the Man.  As the Victor, He sits at the Father’s right hand today crowned with glory and honor; He has been given a bride, the Church; and “His father’s house” (the household of faith) has been made free.

The antagonism of Eliab, David’s eldest brother, and Jesse’s firstborn, is invested with special significance when it is remembered that the Israel which was so antagonistic to Christ, is described also as a firstborn, “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn,” Ex 4:22.  Nor should we fail to note that, beginning with Cain, the firstborn in Scripture is invariably presented as the adversary of the secondborn, and for a very good reason: he represents the natural opposed to the spiritual, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other,” Ga 5:17.  Eliab’s imputation of wrong relative to David’s coming to his brethren represents that of Israel in regard to Christ.

David’s rejection of Saul’s armor points to the Lord’s rejection of every human expedient.  The victory won by David, through seeming impossible means, foreshadows that of Christ by even more unlikely means,

“By weakness and defeat, He won the meed and crown, 
Trod all His foes beneath His feet, by being trodden down.”

“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....” verse 40.  The staff is the biblical symbol of the written Word, reminding us that the “staff” of the Word was never out of the hand of Christ.

Five is the Biblical number of responsibility.  Those five stones, smoothed by the action of the water (symbol of the Word as ministered by the Holy Spirit), declare symbolically that as Man, the Lord’s five senses were also “smoothed” (perfectly conformed to the Divine will) through the leading of the Holy Spirit by means of the written Word.  Their being in “a shepherd’s bag” reminds us that Christ’s five senses were also hidden in a “shepherd’s bag,” for He is the good Shepherd Who didn’t just risk His life: He laid down His life for the sheep.

David’s confident assertion, “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand....” verse 46, reminds us that the Lord also had perfect foreknowledge of the outcome of the battle fought at Calvary.

The site of the battle is also significant, “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,” verse 3.  That place was the valley of Elah, verse 2.  It  means terebinth: oak.  As a tree was associated with the valley where David slew Goliath, so is there also a tree associated with the “valley of death” where the Lord vanquished Satan.  It was by His willingness to be nailed to that tree that the Lord delivered your soul and mine.  The praise of a grateful Israel greeted David.  The praise of a grateful spiritual Israel, the Church should greet Christ as we remember His death and commemorate His victory in the Lord’s supper on the first day of each week.



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough