Poole on 1 Samuel 17:42-47: Goliath's Self-Confidence, David's Faith

Verse 42:[1] And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he (Ps. 123:3, 4; 1 Cor. 1:27, 28) disdained him: for he was but a youth, and (1 Sam. 16:12) ruddy, and of a fair countenance.



[He despised him] He despised his arms, age, and beauty (Lapide). He employed a threefold argument: 1. His age appeared to demonstrate his weakness; 2. his color, his rashness; 3. his appearance, his softness and inexperience (Malvenda out of Junius). He saw him to be young and handsome in appearance: which sort Martial men are not wont to be, whom the rays of the sun and constant fatigue render disfigured (Munster).


He disdained him, etc.: Not having so much as the countenance of a martial person.


[Ruddy and handsome, וְאַדְמֹנִ֖י עִם־יְפֵ֥ה מַרְאֶֽה׃] At the same time beautiful in appearance (Montanus). [See concerning this expression in 1 Samuel 16:12.[2]]


Verse 43:[3] And the Philistine said unto David, (1 Sam. 24:14; 2 Sam. 3:8; 9:8; 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13) Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.


[Am I a dog?] He is not far off the mark. For in fact, David considered him a beast, as he was (Martyr). Verily he was a dog in impudence, filthiness, and infidelity (Lapide).


[With a staff] Hebrew: with staves.[4] Spoken indefinitely; the plural in the place of the singular; as in Genesis 21:7; 46:7 (Malvenda).


With staves, that is, with a staff; the plural number for the singular; as Genesis 21:7; 46:7.


[And he cursed David in his gods, or, by his God (thus nearly all interpreters), וַיְקַלֵּ֧ל הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֛י אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד בֵּאלֹהָֽיו׃] He execrated David by his gods (Tigurinus); he imprecated upon him, etc. (Arabic). He solemnly cursed through his Gods, etc. (Castalio). That is to say, Dagon,[5] or another God of mine, destroy thee (Vatablus). Thus of old that was in common use among the Romans, The gods and goddesses destroy thee (Menochius). Hence David was receiving courage and an omen of victory, because God is wont both to punish evil-speakers, and because to humble the Gods of the nations with their worshippers (Lapide).


The Philistine cursed David; he prayed that his god Dagon, and Ashtaroth, etc., would destroy him.


Verse 44:[6] And the Philistine (1 Kings 20:10, 11) said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.


[And to the beasts of the earth, וּלְבֶהֱמַ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃] And to the beasts of burden of the field. Rabbi Salomon observes that Goliath speaks improperly, since beasts of burden are not carnivores; and so David, casting like threats back upon him, used לְחַיַּת, to the wild beasts.[7] But Kimchi demonstrates that wild beasts also are not rarely comprehended under the term בְּהֵמוֹת/behemoth, Isaiah 18:6;[8] Jeremiah 27:5.[9] To which add Deuteronomy 14:6, 7[10] (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:5).


Verse 45:[11] Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: (2 Sam. 22:33, 35; Ps. 124:8; 125:1; 2 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 11:33, 34) but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast (1 Sam. 17:10) defied.


[With a sword] That is, trusting in thine arms (Piscator).


[In the name of Jehovah] That is, trusting in the promise of Jehovah, that is, who promised that He is going to protect His servants that seek His glory (Piscator).


[Of the Lord of hosts, of the God ranks of Israel] The name of God is here distributed into two parts. The former part denotes the power of God: the latter part, the will of God, and His kind disposition toward His people (Hostus).


In the name of the Lord of hosts, that is, by a commission from him, with confidence in him, and assurance of his help, and for the vindication of his honour. Whom thou hast defied, in defying that army and people whereof he is the Lord and Protector.


Verse 46:[12] This day will the LORD deliver thee (Heb. shut thee up[13]) into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give (Deut. 28:26) the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; (Josh. 4:24; 1 Kings 8:43; 18:36; 2 Kings 19:19; Isa. 52:10) that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.


[And He will deliver thee] Hebrew: he will shut up. It has great emphasis. For we are wont to shut up wild beasts, and furious men, and criminals (Martyr).


[The corpses of the camp of the Philistines (thus nearly all [but the Septuagint has thy corpses, and the corpses of the camp])] The corpse of the Philistines; that is, thy corpse, who art a Philistine (Vatablus in Tigurinus Notes).


[There is a God in Israel, לְיִשְׂרָאֵל] For Israel (Junius and Tremellius). I prefer, of Israel (Piscator, Pagnine). The sense is, that Israel has a God, true, and worthy of this name: as He that will have actually demonstrated Himself to be God, when He has protected me, His servant (Piscator, similarly Vatablus).


That there is a God in Israel: Hebrew, that God, the only true God, is for Israel; or on Israel’s side, and against you. Or, that Israel hath a God, a God indeed, one who is able to help them, and not such an impotent idol as you serve.


Verse 47:[14] And all this assembly shall know that the LORD (Ps. 44:6, 7; Hos. 1:7; Zech. 4:6) saveth not with sword and spear: for (2 Chron. 20:15) the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.


[This church/assembly] This congregation of peoples (Menochius).


That the Lord saveth not with sword and spear, that is, that he can save without these arms, and with the most contemptible weapons, such as mine seem to thee.


[The battle is His] That is, From the Lord is the victory that is brought back from war. Thus the Chaldean Paraphrase (Vatablus). This war belongs to Jehovah. Ye make war on Jehovah; we fight for Him (Junius). Thus in 1 Samuel 18:17 Saul says to David, Fight wars of Jehovah. Yet it appears rather to have been spoken indefinitely. The battle is Jehovah’s, that is, in the hand and power of Jehovah (Piscator). They are called the Wars of God, even those that are waged against those people condemned by God; the rest are the Wars of the kingdom (Grotius).


The battle is the Lord’s, that is, the events of war are wholly in his power, to give success to whom and by what means he pleaseth. He will give you into our hands: David speaks thus confidently, because he was assured of it by a particular inspiration from God.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּבֵּ֧ט הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֛י וַיִּרְאֶ֥ה אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד וַיִּבְזֵ֑הוּ כִּֽי־הָיָ֣ה נַ֔עַר וְאַדְמֹנִ֖י עִם־יְפֵ֥ה מַרְאֶֽה׃ [2] 1 Samuel 16:12a: “And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to (וְה֣וּא אַדְמוֹנִ֔י עִם־יְפֵ֥ה עֵינַ֖יִם וְט֣וֹב רֹ֑אִי)….” [3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי֙ אֶל־דָּוִ֔ד הֲכֶ֣לֶב אָנֹ֔כִי כִּֽי־אַתָּ֥ה בָֽא־אֵלַ֖י בַּמַּקְל֑וֹת וַיְקַלֵּ֧ל הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֛י אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד בֵּאלֹהָֽיו׃ [4] Hebrew: בַּמַּקְלוֹת. [5] Dagon is likely a figure roughly equivalent with Baal. See what things are on 1 Samuel 5:2. [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖י אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד לְכָ֣ה אֵלַ֔י וְאֶתְּנָה֙ אֶת־בְּשָׂ֣רְךָ֔ לְע֥וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וּלְבֶהֱמַ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃ [7] Verse 46. [8] Isaiah 18:6: “They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth (וּֽלְבֶהֱמַ֖ת הָאָ֑רֶץ): and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth (וְכָל־בֶּהֱמַ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ) shall winter upon them.” [9] Jeremiah 27:5, 6: “I have made the earth, the man and the beast (וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה) that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the fieldאֶת־חַיַּ֣ת) הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה) have I given him also to serve him.” [10] Deuteronomy 14:6, 7: “And every beast (וְכָל־בְּהֵמָה) that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts (בַּבְּהֵמָה), that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.” [11] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר דָּוִד֙ אֶל־הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔י אַתָּה֙ בָּ֣א אֵלַ֔י בְּחֶ֖רֶב וּבַחֲנִ֣ית וּבְכִיד֑וֹן וְאָנֹכִ֣י בָֽא־אֵלֶ֗יךָ בְּשֵׁם֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת אֱלֹהֵ֛י מַעַרְכ֥וֹת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר חֵרַֽפְתָּ׃ [12] Hebrew: הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֡ה יְסַגֶּרְךָ֩ יְהוָ֙ה בְּיָדִ֜י וְהִכִּיתִ֗ךָ וַהֲסִרֹתִ֤י אֶת־רֹֽאשְׁךָ֙ מֵעָלֶ֔יךָ וְנָ֙תַתִּ֜י פֶּ֣גֶר מַחֲנֵ֤ה פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה לְע֥וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וּלְחַיַּ֣ת הָאָ֑רֶץ וְיֵֽדְעוּ֙ כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ כִּ֛י יֵ֥שׁ אֱלֹהִ֖ים לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ [13] Hebrew: יְסַגֶּרְךָ. [14] Hebrew: וְיֵֽדְעוּ֙ כָּל־הַקָּהָ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה כִּֽי־לֹ֛א בְּחֶ֥רֶב וּבַחֲנִ֖ית יְהוֹשִׁ֣יעַ יְהוָ֑ה כִּ֤י לַֽיהוָה֙ הַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְנָתַ֥ן אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּיָדֵֽנוּ׃

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