The introduction to chapter, 17:1-11, clearly shows that they had great reason to be afraid? You can almost picture it, once they lined up for battle, it got quiet, the line of the Philistine army opens up, revealing their champion, six cubits and a span in height, that’s 9 feet 9 inches tall. His helmet, coat of mail, and spear together weighs 5600 shekels of bronze, or 140 lbs. This is a weight that would prohibit any normal man from being able to move at all, let alone move with any agility necessary for fighting. Goliath not only wore this armor to fight, he wore it well and was able to move in it quickly. It’s easy to see why he had the reputation he did right? Goliath then opens his mouth, taunting Israel’s army. “Choose a man to come face me, and lets settle this like men! He kills me we’ll be your servants, but if I kill him, you shall serve us.” Verse 16 says Goliath did this for 40 days, each morning and evening. Verse 11 says that when all Israel heard this, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. This is no simple fear, this same word “yare” in the original Hebrew is used to describe “standing in dread”, “terrify”, this is an intense fear. Notice it says, “When Saul and the people heard this….they were afraid?” Saul heard this? He’s the king, it’s his duty to come out and not only meet challenges like this head on confident and courageous, its his job to silence challenges like this. Interesting word on leadership huh? What else can the people do when they see their leader in such fear?
The passage continues in 17:12 bringing David back into view. 3 of David’s brothers had gone out to war with King Saul, and we find Jesse telling David in verse 17 to bring his older brothers some supplies in the camp. David did this, and when he got to the ranks, as he was talking with his brothers, guess who came out to taunt Israel? Right, Goliath. In direct opposite mentality, while Israel was shaking in their boots, verse 23 ends with a simple phrase, “And David heard Goliath.” Israel again flees, goes back to camp and begins talking about this challenge. “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” David for the first time in our passage speaks, and says in 17:26, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” After some of the men told David the prize for killing Goliath, David’s older brothers show up and think David is just there to watch the fight. David didn’t care, but kept asking, and apparently kept asking so much that word got around to Saul that a young boy was eager to know who would fight this champion, so Saul sent for David. And David’s immediate word to Saul is in 17:32, “Let no man’s heart fail because of Goliath, I will go fight with this Philistine.” Saul, as you can imagine said, “You are not able to fight him, for you are a youth, and Goliath has been a man of war from his youth.”