1 SAMUEL 17
[Shmuel Alef 17 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 Now the Philistines [Pelishtim] gathered together their armies [machanot] to battle [for milchamah], and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah [Yehudah], and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim.
In this epic encounter between faith and force, spirit and flesh, the godly and the earthly, we see all the purpose of God and the history of man focalised.
The name "Philistine" has found a place in the English language as a common noun. It is used to describe one who is earthly, ignorant, uncultured and unspiritual. These Gentile barbarians gather their forces against Israel and Israel's first king.
How many of us know just where this great encounter between David and Goliath took place? It was a little south of Jerusalem, and halfway over toward the Mediterranean Sea. It was in the same locality where Samson's strange adventures took place right at the border between the Israelite hill-country and the level Philistine plain.
It was "between the seas - Dead and Mediterranean - in the glorious holy mountain" (Dan. 11:45) -where Gog is to meet his end.
Throughout the story, we are inescapably reminded of Christ's two victories - first over the great and terrible giant of sin and death; and second, the victory to come over the colossal image of the kingdom of men. Goliath is a type of both.
"The Philistines ... pitched ... in Ephes-dammim" (1 Sam. 1). This name means "border of blood." In the antitype it marks the crest of human power: the border of blood - the point where it was broken and turned back, both at Golgotha in the past and Armageddon in the future.
For Christ, as for all, the victory must be first personal, first internal; then external. The real victory was won at Gethsemane and Calvary:
"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (That was spoken when the world did not even know he existed).
The triumph of Armageddon is but the logical and inevitable sequence of the triumph of the cross. So with us - the victory must be personal; all the rest will take care of itself.
Ephes-dammim, the "border of blood," is very closely related in meaning to Acel-dama, the "field of blood," purchased with the price of Judas' treachery. *
2 And Saul [Sha'ul] and the men of Israel [Ish Yisroel] were gathered together, and pitched by the valley [Emek] of Elah, and set the battle in array [ drew up in battle array] against the Philistines [Pelishtim].
"Elah" is the feminine form of "El " (God, strength, mighty one). Elah in Scripture means a strong, firmly-rooted tree. It is usually translated "oak" in the Auth. Version. Several significant things in Scripture occurred under oaks, or "Elahs". It is the word used (1 Chr. 10:12) when the men of Jabesh-gilead buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan under "the oak" in Jabesh. The custom of burying under an oak (Gen. 35:8) seems to carry the thought of resting under the overshadowing care of the Mighty One -"Therefore shall my flesh rest in hope" (Psa. 16:9).
Combining this thought with the meaning of "Jabesh" gives us a touching picture of Israel, as typified by their first king and his noble son - failure and success.
For Jabesh is the common Hebrew word for "dried-up, withered". Saul stands for failure - the failure of one who was called and chosen, and given great honour and responsibilities.
Surely there is something very striking about Saul's bones and all his hopes being buried under a mighty tree in a dry and withered place! In Saul (the first king) we see the natural kingdom of Israel, buried in a withered place because of failure. But in his son Jonathan ("Gift of God"), buried under the shadow of the same mighty tree, we see promise and hope for Israel in the end -
"Unto us a Son is given, and the government (kingship), shall be upon HIS shoulder" (Isa. 9:6).
"0 My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel" (Eze. 37:12).
The figure of an Elah -a strong, well-rooted tree - is often used in Scripture for the righteous:
"Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord" (lsa. 61:3). ':As the days of a tree are the days of My people" (Isa. 65:22). ':As a tree planted by the rivers of waters" (Psa. 1:3).
So the Philistines gather in the border of blood; Israel by the valley of the Mighty Tree. *
3 And the Philistines [Pelishtim] stood on a mountain [har] on the one side, and Israel [Yisroel ] stood on a mountain [har] on the other side: and there was a valley [gey] between them.
Each army on a mountain slope - the valley between for the scene of the conflict. MOUNTAINS in Bible language are powers - the two great flesh-powers of the latter day are "mountains of brass" Zech. 6:1) - and the "mountain of the Lord's House" shall be exalted above all the mountains of the earth (Isa. 2:2).
A VALLEY is a place of sorrow, humility and trial. We find many poetic expressions based upon this thought. The "Valley of Achor" (trouble) which for Israel finally becomes a "Door of Hope" (Hos. 2:15), because "We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom" (Acts 14:22).
In Psalm 84 we have the Valley of Baca (tears)-
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee ... who, passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools ... They go from strength to strength" (vs. 5-7).
Here, by a beautiful figure, the tears of sorrow are transformed into the water of life, by Faith and the Strength of God.
Then there is the Valley of Jehosphaphat (God's Judgment); the Valley of Haraga (Slaughter); and the central figure - "the Valley of the Shadow of Death" (Psa. 23:4).
There are forty valleys mentioned in Scripture, including the last one. Young's concordance lists them all, and they would make a very interesting study. (We shall remember this "40" when we reach v. 16). *
4 And there went out a champion [ Ish HaBenayim (i.e., a middleman champion whose single combat saves the day and decides the victor) out of the camp [machanot] of the Philistines [Pelishtim], named Goliath [shmo Golyat], of Gath [Gat], whose height was six [shesh] cubits and a span.
Goliath means "exile." He stands for natural man in all his power and glory- an exile from God. Gath means "winepress", Goliath of Gath-"the exile of the winepress."
Our minds immediately go to the Revelation - to the "GREAT WINEPRESS OF THE WRATH OF GOD" which is ABOUT TO BE TYPICALLY ENACTED IN THIS VALLEY-the treading down by the victorious Christ of all human power and pride THE GRINDING TO POWDER OF THE GREAT IMAGE.
"His height was 6 cubits and a span" (v. 4).
This would be around 10 to 11 feet. Six is the number of man; 666 is the Man of Sin (Rev. 13:18). This family of giants had 6 fingers on each hand, 6 toes on each foot (2 Sam. 21:20). Goliath had 6 pieces of armour.
"SIX CUBITS AND A SPAN." Surely the 6 CUBITS represent the 6,000 years of the measure of the flesh's rule on earth - the measure of the image.
But what about the "span"? This Hebrew word occurs 7 times in the Scriptures: once here, once speaking of God measuring the heavens with the span (Isa. 40: 12), four times in measuring the high priest's breastplate (Exo. 28:16; 39:9), and finally once in Ezekiel (43:13) in measuring the border of the altar of the Millennial Temple.
Seven occurrences, and all except this one measure divine things - Heaven, the Breastplate of judgment, the Altar that is the very center of the worship of the Millennial Age. Are we not forced to the conclusion that THE SPAN BEYOND THE 6 CUBITS IS THE MILLENNIAL PERIOD - the highest and last period of the existence of natural fiesh ~ the period of transition spanning between man's measured 6 cubits of rule, and the unmeasured divine expanse beyond? (We shall find this thought reinforced when we come to consider the Stone sinking into the Image's head in this span period). *
5 And he had an helmet [kova] of brass [nechoshet] upon his head [rosh], and he was armed with a coat of mail [armour]; and the weight of the coat [of armour] was 5 000 shekels of brass [nechoshet].
6 And he had greaves [mitzchah (greaves, i.e., leg plate armour)] of brass [nechoshet] upon his legs, and a target [kidron (javelin)] of brass [nechoshet (slung)] between his shoulders.
Verses 5 and 6 inform us that Goliath was covered with brass armour. It could not be otherwise, for brass stands for the flesh, as gold does for the Spirit. We remember Moses' serpent of brass, and that "serpent" and "brass" in Hebrew are from the same root and are almost identical words.
Solomon made 300 shields of gold for the Temple of God (the Gideon-army of faith), but because faith failed, the Egyptians came and took away these golden shields and Rehoboam tried to conceal the shame of the loss by the pitiful subterfuge of 300 shields of brass.
''Above all, take the shield of Faith" (Eph. 6:16).
It must be a golden shield of spiritual faith; a brass shield of faith in the flesh will not do.
Samson's encounter with the Philistine Delilah was in this same locality. The struggle between Samson and Delilah was just as deadly, though in a different way, as David's and Goliath - but there the God-appointed champion of Israel failed, and the Philistine triumphed. And Samson was bound with "fetters of brass". *
* Bro Growcott - The Image and the Stone.
11 When Saul [Sha'ul] and all Israel [kol Yisroel] heard those words of the Philistine [divrei haPelishti], they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
12 Now David [Dovid] was the son [ben ish] of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah [Ephrati from Beit-Lechem Yehudah], whose name was Jesse [shmo Yishai]; and he had eight sons [shmoneh banim]: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul [and the ish (Yishai) was zaken in the days of Sha'ul, advanced in age among anashim].
Saul and all Israel are terrified. That is the picture up to v. 11. Truly a sad, shameful picture-all in the bondage of terror-not a man who is able to cope with this giant of the flesh-this godless Philistine who insolently challenges and defies them all.
But v. 12 introduces a complete change. Up to this point, the picture of fleshly might has been building up against God's people.
Here is the one man (and he but a youth) upon whom all the salvation of terror-stricken Israel depends ~ a young boy with the fearless courage of faith. And all these brave and experienced men of war let him go forward as their champion to fight the Lord's battle, knowing that victory or defeat for Israel rested solely upon this boy. What a scene!
"That Ephrathite of Bethlehem-Judah." Bethlehem-" The House of Bread" - had no significance in Israel up to this time, except that Rachel (the type of the Old Covenant) died there, and it was there, too, that Boaz (meaning "Lord of Strength") took a faithful Gentile for his bride, who was to be ancestress to both David and Christ. (Likewise Jerusalem does not enter the scriptural picture until David's time, except in the brief foreshadowing of its greatness that we get in the Melchizedec vision. But now is typically fulfilled Micah's yet unspoken prophecy-
"But thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel ...
"And this man shall be the peace when theAssyrian shall come into our land ... we shall raise up against him (the Assyrian) 7 shepherds and 8 principal (princes of) men" (Mic. 5:2-5).
"Assyria" is a term applied frequently to the invader of the latter days. In Goliath, the Assyrian had typically come, and a shepherd of Bethlehem is needed to destroy him and deliver Israel.
David was a shepherd from Bethlehem, and-strangely enough - he is spoken of as both the seventh and the eighth son of Jesse. He is called the 7th in the genealogy (1 Chron. 2:15), and 8th here in the history (vs. 12-14). Possibly one son was by a concubine, or for some other reason was excluded from the genealogy.
Seven denotes perfection; eight, a new beginning - the 8th day, a new week - the 8th note, a new octave. Jesus rose the 8th day - the first day of a new week. Circumcision was on the 8th day - a symbol of the complete cutting off of the flesh at the end of the Millennium, the beginning of the 8th 1000 years. Eight were saved in the ark, the greatest type of a new beginning after a complete washing away of the old. So we find the 8th day memorialised in Ezekiel's Temple (43:27), and the entrance of that Temple (is to be) by 8 steps (40:31).
* Bro Growcott - The Image and the Stone.