What if…David Versus Goliath

The Bible is full of interesting details which can be easily overlooked. One such example is in the story of David and Goliath, which appears in 1 Samuel 17:1–54.

Saul, who is the King of Israel, gives his armor coat, bronze helmet, and sword to young David who has volunteered to fight Goliath. The giant has spent the last 40 days and nights taunting the Israelites to send out one man to fight him to settle the entire battle, but no one is brave enough to accept Goliath’s challenge. David dons the equipment given to him by Saul, but then quickly removes it all and gives it back to the King telling him that he is not used to it.

Everyone knows how the story ends. David, armed with unshakable faith in God, goes on to use a simple sling shot and a smooth stone to disable Goliath with a shot to the forehead and then uses Goliath’s own sword to kill the giant and cut off his head.

But, what if David had worn the armor and kept the sword that Saul had given him? What would have happened?


David felt awkward wearing the heavy mail shirt. It was warm from the Sun and smelled like someone else’s sweat. Even though he was uncomfortable in the armor and he was not trained to use a sword, David trusted the King. How else was he to defeat the giant?

“Lord bless you, boy. You don’t have to do this.” said Saul.

David looked at the King. He was a bit overweight and had a curly beard and hair. David saw pity in his eyes. He did not respond to Saul. A few of the King’s guards shifted and their equipment rattled.

David bowed his head slightly to the King and walked toward the battle line. He felt slow walking in the armor, but he knew he could not face such a terrible opponent without the proper equipment.

As he approached the battle line, a few of Saul’s guards who accompanied David started yelling for the Israelites to make way. David felt something pull him to the side and he almost tripped. He realized that the pommel of the King’s sword, now hanging from his waist, had caught on a nearby soldier’s cloak. One of the guards untangled the sword so David could continue toward the front of the battle line.

Now David could hear a loud voice. It was a language he did not know, but he could hear mocking laughter and what must have been curses. The voice was deep and powerful. David knew he had almost reached the front of the Israelite line now. Some of the soldiers looked at him with wide eyes. Their look of incredulity was such that David was sure he must have grown a second head.

David put the bronze helmet on and stepped out into the open hillside past the front of the Israelite line. Goliath, who had been laughing and cursing suddenly turned to face the Israelites. He was covered in bronze armor and stood over nine feet tall. All was quiet for a few long seconds, and then Goliath began to laugh harder than before, slapping his knee, and pointing at the timid line of soldiers on the other side of the valley. The Philistine line laughed with Goliath.

David’s heart pounded. The Sun was hot and sweat dripped from his brow stinging his eyes. He silently proceeded down the hill into the valley that lay between the two armies. Goliath stopped laughing and became very serious. “This is who you send to me? A boy?” Goliath said in David’s language. The giant grabbed his helmet off the ground, put it on his head, and then drew his scimitar.

As the two approached each other, David began to think that he should have left the armor he wore with Saul. It did not feel right and he wanted to use the familiar sling that he had practiced with so many times.

“Come here to me, and I will feed your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” said Goliath.

David answered him: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have insulted. Today the Lord shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will feed your dead body and the dead bodies of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.”

As they closed the distance David reached inside of his pouch, grabbed a stone, and hurled it with the sling at Goliath, but just as he let the stone fly, Saul’s helmet, a bit too large for David’s head, shifted throwing off his aim. The stone bounced harmlessly on the ground several feet behind and to Goliath’s right side. Now David would have to face the giant in close quarters. He drew the King’s sword and readied himself.

Goliath came forward directly at David with his sword raised in the air. David heard the whoosh of the scimitar as it came down close to his left side. He barely got out of the way of Goliath’s death blow. The Philistine line cheered. David could see Goliath’s yellow teeth. The giant’s breathing was loud and his spittle flew through the air. All of his humor was gone. He was fully focused on killing David.

David swung at Goliath. The giant stepped forward and easily batted the King’s sword away with his scimitar. Goliath stood still waiting for David to swing again. He did. Goliath parried Saul’s sword away again. The Philistines cheered louder. No sound came from the Israelite line.

David readied another strike, but Goliath was too close. He kicked David square in the chest. David fell onto his back. He was gasping for breath. Goliath walked calmly toward David. The cheers grew louder across from the Israelites.

Between short gasps for air David could smell the rich grass and dirt of the valley floor. The hot Sun blinded him for a moment, but then there was shade and a noticeable change in temperature. Another whoosh from the scimitar and everything went black.


David and Goliath is a story of a youth overcoming what seem to be impossible odds against a fierce enemy. It is a story of trust. Trust in God. In the Bible, David trusts in God. He does not rely on armor or a sword.

And so we see how this detail about David deciding whether to wear the armor or not is symbolic of his faith and trust, and if we change that detail, the entire story changes.

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    1. Andrew Garofalo October 6, 2018 at 9:04 am

      You are way too kind Joe. But thanks.


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