As long as Saul lived there was bitter war with the Philistines. Whenever Saul saw a strong or able man, he would take him into his service.
[Illustration: (C)Curtis Publishing Company
Saul and David
Painted by W. L. Taylor]
Now the spirit of Jehovah had left Saul and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him. So Saul's servants said to him, |See now, an evil spirit from Jehovah is troubling you. Let your servants who are here advise you, and let them seek a man skilled in playing the lyre. Then, whenever the evil spirit comes upon you, he shall play on the lyre, and you will be well.| Saul said to his servants, |Find me a man who plays well, and bring him to me.|
Then one of the young men said, |I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skilled musician, a strong and able man, a soldier, careful in speech, handsome, and Jehovah is with him.| So Saul sent messengers to Jesse with the command, |Send me David your son, who is with the flock.|
Then Jesse took ten loaves of bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them to Saul by his son David. So David came to Saul and entered his service; and Saul loved him and he became his armor-bearer. Saul sent this message to Jesse: |Let David remain in my service, for I am well pleased with him.| And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take the lyre and play, and Saul would breathe more easily and would be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war, and camped between Socoh and Ezekah in Ephesdammim. Saul and the men of Israel came together and camped in the valley of Elah; and they were drawn up ready for battle against the Philistines.
The Philistines were standing on the hill on one side, and the Israelites were standing on the hill on the other side with the valley between them. Then there came out from the ranks of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, who was about ten feet tall. He had a helmet of bronze on his head and wore a bronze breastplate of scales which weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. He also had bronze greaves upon his legs and a bronze back-plate between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his iron spear weighed about twenty pounds; and his shield-bearer went before him.
He stood and called to the ranks of Israel: |Why have you come out to form the line of battle? Am I not a Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I conquer and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.| The Philistine added, |I defy the ranks of Israel to-day; give me a man that we may fight together.|
When Saul and all the Israelites heard these words of the Philistine, they were terrified. But David said to Saul, |Let not my lord's courage fail him; I will go and fight this Philistine.| Saul said to David, |You are not able to go and fight against this Philistine, for you are only a youth and he has been a warrior from his youth.| But David said to Saul, |Your servant kept his father's sheep, and whenever a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I would go out after him and kill him and rescue it from his mouth. If he attacked me, I would seize him by his throat and kill him with a blow. Your servant has killed both lion and bear. Now this heathen Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God. Jehovah who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will save me from the hand of this Philistine.| So Saul said to David, |Go, and may Jehovah be with you.|
Saul clothed David with his own garments, and put a helmet of bronze on his head and gave him a coat of mail. And David fastened on his sword over his coat and was not able to walk, for he was not used to them. So he said to Saul, |I cannot go with these, for I am not used to them.| So David took them off.
Then he took his club in his hand, and he chose five smooth stones from the bed of the brook and put them in his bag, and he took his sling in his hand and drew near to the Philistine. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he despised him, for he was but a fair and ruddy youth. So the Philistine said to David, |Am I a dog that you come against me with a club?| And he cursed David by his gods, and said, |Come to me that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and to the beasts of the field.|
Then David answered the Philistine, |You come to me with a sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of Jehovah of hosts and of the God of the armies of Israel whom you have insulted this day. Jehovah will deliver you into my hand that I may kill you and cut off your head.|
When the Philistine started to attack him, David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone, and slung it and struck the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, and drawing his sword from its sheath, he killed him and cut off his head with it.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. The men of Israel and of Judah rose up and raised the battle-cry and followed the Philistines to the entrance to Gath and to the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded of the Philistines fell all the way from the battle-field even to Gath and Ekron.