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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

1 Samuel 17

 

 

Verse 1

The narrative reverts to the Philistine wars 1 Samuel 14:52; the other introductory details concerning Saul‘s rejection, and David‘s introduction upon the stage of the history, having been disposed of in the intermediate chapters.

Shochoh which belongeth to Judah - See the marginal reference which places Shochoh and Azekah in the “Shephelah” or maritime plain, and 2 Chronicles 28:18, “Shochoh” now “Shuweikeh,” “nine miles from Eleutheropolis,” Jerome.

Ephes-dammim - Called “Happas-dammim” (Pas-dammim, 1 Chronicles 11:13), “the end of bloodshed,” now “Damun,” about 4 miles northeast of Shuweikeh.


Verse 2

The valley of Elah - i. e., of the terebinth, now called Wady es Sunt, from the acacias which are scattered in it.


Verse 3

(In the middle of the broad open valley 1 Samuel 17:2 is a deep trench 1 Samuel 17:3 with vertical sides, a valley within a valley: the sides and bed of the trench are strewn with water-worn pebbles. (Conder.))


Verse 4

A champion - literally, “a man between the two camps:” i. e., one who did not fight in the ranks like an ordinary soldier, but came forth into the space between the hostile camps to challenge the mightiest man of his enemies to come and fight him.

Goliath of Gath - One of the places mentioned in Joshua 11:22 as still retaining a remnant of the sons of Anak; Gaza and Ashdod being the others. The race of giants (the Rephaim, from רפא râphâ' ) is mentioned again in the account of David‘s Philistine wars 2 Samuel 21:15-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. It appears from these passages that Goliath had a brother Lahmi. Four are named as being “born to the giant in Gath.” See Deuteronomy 2:10-11, Deuteronomy 2:20-21; Deuteronomy 3:11-13.

Six cubits … - If the cubit, the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, is about 1 12 feet; and the span, the distance from the thumb to the middle or little finger, when stretched apart to the full length, be half a cubit, six cubits and a span would equal about nine feet nine inches. The bed of Og king of Bashan was nine cubits long Deuteronomy 3:11.


Verse 5

Coat of mail - Or “breastplate of scales.” A kind of metal shirt, protecting the back as well as the breast, and made of scales like those of a fish; as was the corselet of Rameses III, now in the British Museum. The terms, helmet, coat, and clothed (armed the King James Version) are the same as those used in Isaiah 59:17.

Five thousand shekels - Probably about 157 pounds avoirdupois (see Exodus 38:12). It is very probable that Goliath‘s brass coat may have been long preserved as a trophy, as we know his sword was, and so the weight of it ascertained.


Verse 6

A target … - Rather, “a javelin.” as in 1 Samuel 17:45, and placed between the shoulders, as the quiver was.


Verse 7

Spear‘s-head - literally, “the flame of his spear,” the metal part which flashed like a flame.

Six hundred shekels - i. e., between seventeen and eighteen pounds avoirdupois.


Verse 12

This and the following verses down to the end of 1 Samuel 17:31 are omitted in the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, as are 1 Samuel 17:55-58. The object of the omission was doubtless to avoid the apparent inconsistency with regard to Saul‘s acquaintance with David (see 1 Samuel 16:21 note).


Verse 15

David went … - “Was gone,” referring to 1 Samuel 16:19-20. Had he been Saul‘s armour-bearer at this time it is highly improbable that he would have left him to feed sheep.


Verse 18

Take their pledge - i. e., bring back what they have to say in return.


Verse 20

The trench - Rather, “the wagons,” which were all put together in the camp so as to form a kind of bulwark or fortification (see 1 Samuel 26:5, 1 Samuel 26:7). Here David left his “carriage” 1 Samuel 17:22, i. e., the things which he had carried, “his things” as we should say, or baggage (translated stuff in 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 30:24). There seems to have been an officer (“the keeper,” 1 Samuel 17:22) in the Hebrew army whose charge it was to guard the baggage.


Verse 25

Free in Israel - In all the other passages (fifteen) where this word occurs, it means free, as opposed to being a slave (Deuteronomy 15:12-13, Deuteronomy 15:18, etc.) Here it may imply a freedom from all such services and burdens as are spoken of in 1 Samuel 8:11-17.


Verse 26

The living God - This fine expression occurs first in Deuteronomy (marginal reference), and next in Joshua 3:10, and 2 Kings 19:4. We find it twice in the Psalms of David Psalm 42:2; Psalm 84:2, four times in the prophets, and frequently in the New Testament. It is generally in contrast to false gods (1 Thessalonians 1:9, etc.).


Verse 28

Why camest thou down? - From the heights of Bethlehem to the valley of Elah.

Thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart - See the similar expression, Jeremiah 49. Compare the envy of Jacob‘s sons toward Joseph, and of the slanders heaped upon the Son of David in the days of His flesh.


Verse 29

Is there not a cause? - i. e., is not Saul‘s promise, and the insolence of Goliath, a sufficent cause for what I am about to do?


Verse 34

The narrative does not make it certain whether the lion and the bear came on one and the same, or on two different occasions. If it was on one occasion, the probability would be that the bear, having seized a lamb and carrying it off, a lion appeared to dispute the prize with the bear, or with David after he had taken it from the bear, and that David killed first one and then the other.


Verse 35

His beard - Put here for his throat, or under jaw; neither lion nor bear has a beard properly speaking.


Verse 45

A shield - “A javelin,” see 1 Samuel 17:6 note.


Verse 47

The Lord saveth not with sword … - Observe the consistent teaching of such passages as 1 Samuel 14:6; Exodus 14:13-18; Judges 7:2, Judges 7:4, Judges 7:7; Psalm 44:6, etc., and their practical use to the Church as lessons of trust in God, and distrust of ourselves.


Verse 51

Champion - Quite a different word from that so rendered in 1 Samuel 17:4, 1 Samuel 17:23; better “warrior.”


Verse 52

The men of Israel and Judah - See 1 Samuel 15:4 note.

Shaaraim - A town of Judah in the Shephelah (see the marginal reference), at this time probably in the possession of the Philistines.


Verse 54

Jerusalem - See Judges 1:8 note.

His tent - Perhaps the tabernacle. David had neither tent nor house of his own. It would be quite in accordance with David‘s piety that he should immediately dedicate to God the arms taken from the Philistine, in acknowledgment that the victory was not his own but the Lord‘s (compare 1 Samuel 21:9). His tabernacle, meaning the tabernacle which he had pitched (2 Samuel 6:17; compare Acts 15:16).


Verse 55

Whose son … - See the marginal reference note.

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 17:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-17.html. 1870.

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