The Signs of the Times


August 10, 1888

The Slaying of Goliath


For forty days the host of Israel had trembled before the haughty challenge of Goliath, the Philistine giant. Their hearts failed within them as they looked upon his massive form, measuring six cubits and a span, or ten and a half feet, in height. Upon his head was a helmet of brass, he was clothed with a coat of mail that weighed five thousand shekels, or about a hundred and fifty-seven pounds, and he had greaves of brass upon his legs. The coat was made of plates of brass that overlaid one another, like the scales of a fish, and they were so closely joined that no dart or arrow could possibly penetrate the armor. At his back the giant bore a huge javelin, or lance, also of brass. “The staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and one bearing a shield went before him.” ST August 10, 1888, par. 1

For forty days, morning and evening, Goliath had approached the camp of Israel, saying with a loud voice, “Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” No one had dared to go against this boaster, until David, stirred with indignation at the proud words of the idolater, offered himself to Saul, as one who was willing to fight for the glory of God and the honor of Israel. ST August 10, 1888, par. 2

Saul decided to permit the shepherd to make the venture; but he had small hope that David would be successful in his courageous undertaking. Command was given to clothe the youth in the king's own armor. The heavy helmet of brass was put upon his head, and the coat of mail was placed upon his body, while he was girded with the monarch's sword. Thus equipped, he started upon his errand; but erelong he turned back, and began to retrace his steps. What was the trouble? Was he afraid? The first thought in the minds of the anxious spectators was that David had decided not to risk his life in meeting an antagonist in so unequal an encounter. But this was far from the thought of the brave young man. ST August 10, 1888, par. 3

When he returned to Saul, he begged permission to lay aside the heavy armor, and he said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them.” He laid off the king's armor, and in its stead took only his staff in his hand, with his shepherd's scrip, and a simple sling. Choosing five smooth stones out of the brook, he put them in his bag, and, with his sling in his hand, he drew near to the Philistine. The champion strode boldly and proudly forward, expecting to meet with the mightiest of the warriors of Israel. His armor-bearer walked before him, and he looked as if nothing could stand before him. As he came nearer to David, he saw but a stripling, called a boy because of his youth. His countenance was ruddy with health; and his slender form, unprotected by armor, displayed all its youthful outline in marked contrast to the massive proportions of the Philistine. ST August 10, 1888, par. 4

Goliath was filled with amazement and anger. His indignation burst forth in words that were calculated to terrify and overwhelm the daring youth before him. “Am I a dog,” exclaimed the giant, “that thou comest to me with staves?” Then the Philistine poured upon David the most terrible curses by all the gods of his knowledge. He cried in derision, “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.” This haughty threat only served to inspire the youth with loftier courage, and to kindle in his breast a greater zeal to silence the enemy of his people. He did not weaken before the champion of the Philistines. He knew that he was about to fight for the honor of his God and the deliverance of Israel, and his heart was full of calm faith and hope. ST August 10, 1888, par. 5

David stepped forward, and addressed his antagonist in language that was both modest and eloquent. And he said to the Philistine, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands.” ST August 10, 1888, par. 6

What an inspiration of courage and lofty faith was displayed by the simple shepherd before the armies of the Israelites and the Philistines. There was a ring of fearlessness in his tone, a look of triumph and rejoicing upon his fair countenance. This speech, given in a clear, musical voice, rang out on the air, and was distinctly heard by the listening thousands encamped for war. As David's rich voice uttered the words of trust and triumph, the anger of Goliath was roused to the very highest heat. In his rage, he pushed up the helmet that protected his forehead, and rushed with determined hatred to wreak vengeance upon his opponent. The son of Jesse was preparing for his foe. Both armies were watching with the most intense interest. “And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.” ST August 10, 1888, par. 7

Amazement spread along the lines of the two armies. They had been confident that David would be slain; but when the stone went whizzing through the air, straight to the mark, they saw the mighty warrior tremble, and reach forth his hands, as if he were struck with sudden blindness. The giant reeled, and staggered, and fell prostrate to the ground. David did not wait an instant. He knew not that life was extinct. He sprang upon the prostrate form of the Philistine, and with both hands he laid hold of Goliath's heavy sword. A moment before the giant had flourished it before the face of David with the boast that he would sever the youth's head from his shoulders, and give his body to the fowls of the air. Now it served to work the will of the servant of God. It was lifted in the air, and then the head of the boaster rolled from his trunk, and a shout of exultation went up from the camp of Israel. ST August 10, 1888, par. 8

The Philistines were smitten with terror. They knew that the day was lost. In horror and confusion they began an irregular retreat. The shout of the triumphant Hebrews echoed along the summits of the mountains, as they rushed after their retreating enemies, and they “pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents. And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.” ST August 10, 1888, par. 9