These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
David and Goliath – 1 Samuel 17 Inductive Bible Study
The Challenge (1-11)
Jesse sends David with food (12-22)
David seeks more information (23-31)
David convinces Saul (32-39)
David converses with Goliath (40-47)
Victory over Goliath (48-58)
I. Verses 1-11
- Who were the Philistines?
- Why did there seem to be no actual fighting in this “battle?”
- How tall was Goliath in meters?
- Why do you think the author includes so many details about his size and his armor?
- So are giants just the things of myths and legends?
- What other giants are mentioned in the Bible?
- What can we learn about Goliath from this passage?
- What can we see about his attitude toward the Israelites? About himself?
- How did the Israelite army respond to this challenge? Why?
- Genesis 10:13-14, 21:34 – Early biblical references to the Philistines.
- Exodus 13:17 – By the time of Moses the Philistines presence had expanded in Canaan.
- 1 Samuel 13:19-22, Judges 1:19 – These verses show the disadvantage most Jews faced when facing the Philistines. Perhaps the Philistines had advanced to the iron age while Israel was still in the bronze age.
- Genesis 14:5-7, Deuteronomy 2:10-11, 2:20-21, 3:11,13, Genesis 6:4, Joshua 11:21-22 – Various verses where giants are mentioned in the Bible.
1. It is likely that the Philistines had Aegean origins. In Genesis 10:13-14 they are listed together with Caphtorim, and Caphtor in Hebrew referred to the island of Crete and perhaps even the whole Aegean region. Also their pottery would seem to indicate they were from that area. In 2005 two pieces of pottery shards were discovered was found in the ruins of Gath with two names resembling Goliath, showing a linguistic link between the 1 Samuel 17 account and history.
2. In history sometimes armies would each send a champion or champions to represent their army against the best warrior of their opponents. Here we see that the Philistines had a champion of champions.
3. Goliath was from Gath. This was one of the five key cities of the Philistines. He was about ten and one half feet tall, which would make him about 3 feet (or a little less than one meter) taller than Yao Ming. His coat of mail was 125 pounds (56kg) and his spear was 15 pounds (7kg). Additionally, he had a helmet, protection on his legs, a javelin, and a spear. His armor bearer carried a shield for him. Goliath was a very formidable warrior.
4. Goliath came out day after day for 40 days to taunt the armies of Israel. He offered a deal, a deal which certainly didn’t look very appealing to the Israelite army. His deal was that if he defeated the Israelite warrior then the Israelites would be slaves for the Philistines, but if the Israelite warrior won then the Philistines would be slaves of the Israelites.
5. No one in the Israelite army wanted to take Goliath up on the challenge. They were terrified. Goliath looked unbeatable. He was far taller than them. He would have been far heavier too. In addition, he was well armed and well protected. The Israelites were way behind the Philistines militarily and we see in 1 Samuel 13:19-22 that at one point there were only two swords in the whole Israelite army. It is likely that they were not well equipped with armor either. No one wanted to step out and risk their life against this giant. In their minds it would have been insanity to do so. How could any of them possibly defeat Goliath? This obstacle was beyond them.
II. Verses 12-22
- What do we learn about David’s family from this passage? How about David?
- What was the battle like when David arrived (verse 21)?
1. Enter David. In verses 1-11 we learn about the background for this famous story. Both armies were locked in a stalemate with no one willing to accept Goliath’s challenge and the Philistines not wanting to give up their one on one advantage. In the previous verses we learned the background for this battle. Now we see David’s background. David is not a typical candidate for a champion to face Goliath. Just like in 1 Samuel 16, we see that his three oldest brothers represent more logical choices. They were actually members of the army, while David was a shepherd who only made occasional trips to the battlefront for carrying supplies to his brothers there. In verse 17 we see that Jesse sent David to the front with some food for his brothers and a gift for the commander of their regiment. Take note that David was not part of the army. He was not responsible to answer Goliath’s challenge. This was not in his job description. No one could have blamed in the slightest if he went to the front, gave his brothers the food, got news from them and returned again. He had not been commanded to do anything more.
2. David arose early in the morning – We see in these verses that David was faithful to what his father told him to do. This is important. It wouldn’t have been appropriate if David had neglected his father’s instructions to go off and do something else. But he finished his personal obligations first.
III. Verses 23-31
- What did David observe?
- What were the soldiers talking about?
- Why were they talking about the reward?
- Why do you think David asked about the potential reward for killing Goliath? Was this good or bad to inquire about?
- How did Eliab react to David? Why may have reacted like this (perhaps jealousy)? What does this teach us about human nature?
- So how supportive does David’s family appear toward him now that he has been annointed as the future king?
1. Verses 23-24 – While David was at the battle line getting news Goliath came forward again for another round of mocking and taunting. The Israelite soldiers once again fled. In forty days of challenges not one soldier seems to have reacted differently. Nobody wanted to step out. They were afraid and with good reason. But this fear did not drive them to God for help. It drove them to cower and hide behind rocks. The soldiers talked together about the financial incentives offered for the soldier who killed Goliath. Even this extensive incentives (including marriage to the king’s daughter) was not enough to entice them to overcome their fear.
2. David seeks more information – Before David made a decision he wanted to fully understand the situation. Part of that was inquiring about the reward offered for beating Goliath. Why do you think David inquired about this reward?
Perhaps David was motivated partly for the reward, but the bigger concern to him appears to be God’s reputation. It really irks him that this unbelieving Philistine is able to walk up and down taunting God’s people and by extension God Himself. It seems that David is incredulous about the situation. He cannot believe why nobody has stepped out to do something about it.
3. Eliab is angry with David – There are several possible reasons why Eliab was angry with David. One reason is that David was anointed king and he wasn’t. He could have still been harboring some jealousy because of that. Another reason is that Eliab may have felt guilty that he and the other soldiers had cowered in fear rather than boldly confronting Goliath. In addition, sibling rivalry and a general tendency to look down on one’s younger siblings may have added fuel to the fire. Regardless of the exact reasoning we see that Eliab had a very low opinion of David. He minimized David’s work and he prescribed evil motives to David which could not be proven. We need to be very careful not to treat others like Eliab treated his brother.
Application: We need to speak words of affirmation and encouragement to others. This is generally far more effective than criticism. Also we should avoid pretending that we know other people’s motivation for their actions. This can be very infuriating and discouraging to others if we are wrong and we often will be since we cannot see their hearts.
4. David was not easily discouraged. His brothers disrespected him and looked down on him (we do not see his other brothers defending him here.) This could be very discouraging. Many people get their sense of self worth and self esteem from their close family. When their family members look down on them, they may tend to become depressed and introverted and believe the bad things others are saying about them. But David doesn’t fall into this trap. Where should we get our sense of self-worth? Where do we get confidence from?
Application: Do not become easily discouraged. Do not give up the moment an obstacle blocks your way. If God has called you to do something, you don’t need to worry about pleasing people. Our job is to please God not man.
IV. Verses 32-39
- What can we learn about David and his character in this section?
- How did Saul think of David? Why did Saul not go (since he was the tallest person in the land)?
- How did David convince Saul to let him try?
- How could David beat a lion and a bear? Why did David think he was able to beat the lion and bear? Why is this important?
- Why was David so angry about Goliath?
1. In verse 32 we see David’s determination to fight against Goliath. From a worldly perspective this decision made no sense. In the eyes of seasoned warriors, David was but a youth. Sure, he was brave, but he was not an experienced warrior. He wasn’t even a part of the army. Eliab wasn’t the only one who thought he was crazy. Saul did as well.
2. Here David tells the remarkable stories of killing a lion and a bear which were attacking the flock. David wisely recognized that this was God’s deliverance and believed that God would deliver him from Goliath in the same way. From the story of the lion and the bear we can get a glimpse of God’s divine providence. It would seem hard to imagine that a lion and bear attack could be good. But were they? These attacks let David to learn from a young age that God would be with him. They taught David that God is greater than anything he would face. They also taught David the need for boldness. Each of those events acted to greatly strengthen David’s faith and reliance on God. But notice in neither case could David just sit back and do nothing. He had to act and believe that God would help him which is a far cry from sitting and believing that God would delivery him.
Application: Everything happens for a reason. God wants us to take initiative. God wants us to be bold. We must take action to overcome obstacles, but do so based on faith in God and not on our ourselves. At the same time, if we know something is right, we must insist to do it even if it causes others to scorn and mock us. We serve God first, not man.
3. David declined Saul’s armor. It did not fit and was therefore not going to help him in the fight. Wearing the armor would have caused him to fit in more. He could have gotten a bit more respect from his peers marching out to battle with Saul’s armor. Even Goliath would have respected him a little more. It would have certainly been a temptation to wear the armor if for nothing else than to get the people around him to stop laughing at him. But to do so would have probably been a fatal mistake. The armor would not have been enough to protect him from Goliath from man’s standpoint. And by choosing that for the sake of pleasing people, he may have lost God’s support. Once again we learn the very important lesson that we must please God rather than man.
V. Verses 40-47
- How did David prepare? Why is it important that he did prepare? What lesson can we learn from this?
- How did Goliath react to David? Where did Goliath place his trust?
- What do you think of David’s statements to Goliath?
- What gave David this extreme confidence?
- What applications can we make in our own life from these principles?
- Are there any challenges in front of you that you need to depend on God to overcome?
- What areas do you need to have this steel boldness?
1. David did not take the armor, but he did prepare. He prepared to use the skills and talents God had given him, namely using a sling. Many people speculate on why David picked up five stones. Any thoughts? In the end, it is all speculation. If he picked up 4 people would speculate why 4 and if he picked up 6 people would speculate why 6. I personally doubt he picked up one for Goliath and each of his brothers. To me it is more likely he picked up several so that he would be as well prepared as he could be. Would it have shown more faith if he only took one rock? There is a fine line between faith and blind bravado. I could claim to have faith and close my eyes while driving a car, but it doesn’t make it a smart idea. David showed great faith in God by even marching out to confront Goliath, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to do his very best to prepare for the fight. God’s sovereignty and human’s responsibility are both taught throughout the Bible and we need to have a correct view of both.
2. Like everyone else, Goliath disdained David. David was not the champion he was expecting. It is almost as if Goliath thought it was beneath him to even face this youth in battle. He noticed that David did not carry traditional armor or weaponry, which made him despise David even more. Was this whole thing a joke? Goliath could imagine no other outcome than the birds of the air feasting on David’s body. Where did Goliath get his confidence? Here is the key lesson from this entire story. Goliath believed in himself. He believed in his strength. He relied on his experience. He trusted in his armor.
Proverbs 21:31 – The horse is made ready for the battle, but God gives the victory.
3. What did David believe in? David trusted in none of those things. David’s confidence was in God. His motivation was to defend God’s name and honor. He wanted to show to Israel’s enemies that God was the one true God. He also wanted to show the Israelites that they could be bold and didn’t have to hide in the shadows. God would be with them if they believed in Him. He fully believed that he would win. He believed this because he knew who would be fighting on his side.
VI. Verses 48-58
- Was it wrong for David to kill Goliath? Did this violate one of the ten commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Murder?”
- How did the army respond to David’s victory?
- What does this show us about what a single person can accomplish for God?
- Why did Saul not know whose David’s father was considering David’s time at the court shown in chapter 16?
- Why might Saul have wanted to know more about David’s family?
- How does event fit in with God’s plan for David to be the next king?
What lessons can we learn which we can apply to our lives today?
Do not be afraid of what other’s think about you. We are pleasing God not man.
God may use any situations in our lives (even bad ones) to prepare us for tasks in the future. This can help us remember to be optimistic and thankful even in the midst of difficulties knowing that God has a plan for us.
Take initiative. But don’t neglect our responsibilities. David saw what needed to be done. Nobody would do it. But he stepped out to do it. What needs to be done? Are you willing to step out?
Be bold. No matter what obstacles face you, no matter how insurmountable, make up your mind to boldly face them.
Do this in faith. If God is with you who can be against you?
Take the right actions with the right motivations. God doesn’t need us to defend His name and yet it should still bother us when others let God’s name be dragged through the mud.
Our actions can influence others to step out. David’s boldness was contagious. The battle started with only David doing anything. It ended with the entire army being inspired to action.
God is a big God. He is bigger than anything we will face in this world. Attempt great things for God. Request great things of God.