David and Goliath

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the David and Goliath rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.



            1 Samuel 17:1-50

Memory verse for this rotation:

            “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9(CEV)


·       God is with you in difficult situations.

·       Rely on God because God is more powerful than anything you will face in this world.

·       God gives us hope even when everything seems hopeless.

·       God works in ways we do not expect and through people we do not expect.

·       We should not seek success; we should seek to serve the Lord.


Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·        If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·        Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.

Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

1 and 2 Samuel



            It is believed that the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book and were divided later into two so that the scrolls would be smaller and easier to handle (Birch, 950).  The debate about who wrote Samuel and when is long, complicated, and unresolved.  For our purposes, it will suffice to say that 1 and 2 Samuel most likely started with some core stories that were compiled and edited by one or more people.  They  were probably fixed in their final form during the time of exile in the sixth century BCE (Birch, 956).



            1 and 2 Samuel are not true history and yet they tell the story of a particular historical period in the life of Israel.  They also tell the story of God at work in the life of Israel but they do so without ignoring the economic, political, and social factors at work as well.  In his commentary, Walter Brueggemann challenges us not to be tempted by an “excessively pious” reading or by an excessively rational reading of the text (2-3).  Brueggemann calls us to hold the theological and the historical/rational in tension as we read the narrative found in Samuel (5).  Once again, as we have found so often in scripture, we are faced with the unique genre of a theological narrative that seeks to tell us of the history of the people of God and of God at work in the world.



I have chosen to offer you the outline presented by Brueggemann who in his commentary states that he has “organized the material in rather conventional units, which . . . reflect a rough scholarly consensus” (6).

I Samuel 1-7  The Rise of Samuel

I Samuel 8-15            The Rule of Saul

I Samuel 16:1-II Samuel 5:10    The Rise of David

II Samuel 5:11-8:18            The Reign of David

II Samuel 9-20     The Family of David

II Samuel 21-24  Memories of David



            The books of 1 and 2 Samuel tell the story of a dramatic and important period of transition in Israel.  When Samuel begins, Israel is a loose gathering of tribes that have little or no central economic, political, social or religious systems or controls (Brueggemann, 1 and Birch, 949).  They are threatened militarily by the Philistines.  In 1 Kings, the book that follows Samuel, we find a firmly established monarchy and centralized economic, social and religious structures (Brueggemann, 1).  Rather than offering themes as such, Brueggemann offers the following three factors that were “at work in this social transformation”.

  1. In this transition, Israel was adjusting to certain “social, economic, political, military, and technological pressures” that were an important influence during this time (Brueggemann, 1).
  2. “The transition was wrought through the extraordinary personality of David” (Brueggemann, 1).
  3. Yahweh, the God of Israel, plays “a central part in this transition, sometimes acting and speaking directly, sometimes governing in hidden ways” (Brueggemann, 2).

In essence what Brueggemann is saying here is that the authors/editors of 1 and 2 Samuel recognized that the changes in Israel were brought about through both human activity (on a broad scale and more specifically by David) and through the activity of God who worked both directly and through the events of history to bring about God’s divine purposes.  “Our interpretation must pay attention to the way the Samuel narrative characterizes the transformation as a convergence of sociohistorical, personal, and theological factors” (Brueggemann, 2).  To neglect one or to overemphasize the other would be a mistake.


1 Samuel 17:1-50


            The section from 1 Samuel 16:1 through 2 Samuel 5:10 is often referred to as “The Rise of David” and is thought of as one of the several literary units that were put together to form the books of Samuel (Brueggemann, 119).  According to Bruce Birch, there is the sense that David is what the whole story has been building up to and “the tradition clearly understands that God’s intentions for Israel’s future are bound up” in him (1094).  Birch goes on to say that the overriding theme of this section is that “the Lord was with David” (1095).  We find here the story of a hero and in particular a hero for the marginalized.  We also find the story of a God who is directing the future of David and Israel to fulfill God’s purposes.  As discussed above, in this story we see the tension of historical, theological and personal factors (Brueggemann, 2).  Birch agrees with Brueggemann and says that 1 Samuel from this point on contains “a unique combination of theological confidence in God’s presence with David and honesty about the raw events of this political process and the men and women who lived through it” (Birch, 1095).


Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas

Verses 1-11

Ø     The type of representative combat that Goliath is proposing is not totally unheard of during this time (Birch, 1109).

Ø     Note Goliath’s height and impenetrable armor – he seems to have no weak spot!

Verses 12-30

Ø     These verses show that Jesse’s family is loyal to Saul (Birch, 1110).

Ø     David is the first person in the story to “describe this confrontation in theological terms” as he verbalizes the shame that is brought on Israel and on God by the lack of any response to Goliath’s challenge (Birch, 1110-1111).  He alone understands that this challenge is against God as well as Israel and that the soldiers’ (and Saul’s) fear represents a lack of faith in God’s ability to deliver them.


Verses 31-40

Ø     Saul serves throughout 1 Samuel as a foil for David and here we see the contrast being made between the boy and the man.

Ø     Here we have the first of David’s two speeches which “form the theological heart of this story” (Birch, 1109).  David gives all credit to Yahweh, the Lord.  He reminds Saul that God can and will deliver them from Goliath and the Philistines.  Saul relies only on military might, but David knows of the great source of strength and power that is found in God. (Birch, 1110)

Ø     Saul acts convinced but then tries anyway to clothe David in armor that does not fit him and that David does not know how to use.

Verses 41-47

Ø     The Philistine gods are nameless and therefore powerless (Birch, 1112).

Ø     Again David delivers a speech naming the Living God – Yahweh - as his source of strength, courage, confidence and power (Birch, 1112).

Ø     David explains in this speech that his victory over Goliath will glorify the God of Israel to all the world (Brueggemann, 132) and will show that “deliverance does not come through trust in human might” but from God alone (Birch, 1112).  This is the point of his victory and of the telling of this story.

Verses 48-50

Ø     Once the battle begins, everything happens fast!  In verses 48-51 David is the subject of 15 verbs – this “boy” gets things done when none of the “men” in the army could or would (Birch, 1109).


            If we go back to the three factors pointed out by Brueggemann we can see each of them at work in this story.

  1. We see that Saul and the Israelites were at a disadvantage militarily against the Philistines.  One of Saul’s main callings as king was to lead Israel in defeating the Philistines and we see him here unable to do that.
  2. Until David appears on the scene the Israelite army is frozen in a holding pattern.  Only David has the courage to change things by going against Goliath.  Only David is able to see the theological importance of this challenge and Israel’s lack of response.
  3. God is present with David.  With his two speeches to Saul and Goliath, David brings Yahweh into the forefront and recognizes that with God both he and Israel can do great things.

In his concluding words about this story, Brueggemann says the following:  “The story is also set as a paradigm of bold faith in an arena of fear, threat, and defiance. . . . In the life of Israel, the telling of the story is the way the power of Yahweh becomes again available in each new present circumstance” (134).

Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.


Antioch Arcade:  The children will play a game where they throw a sling and answer questions reinforcing what they learned from the story.  They will also discuss reasons why David may have fought Goliath even though he did not collect the reward being offered.

Apostles’ Playhouse:  The children will create TV and radio commercials that compare the armor of Saul with the armor of God.  They will learn that they can rely of God because God is powerful and is with us in difficult situations.

Creation Station: The children will paint a stone like the ones David used to kill Goliath.  The stone will serve as a reminder that they can rely on God as David did and that even a child can do God’s work

Good News:  The children will hear and participate in the retelling of the story.  They will also learn through an activity involving presents that God sometimes works in unexpected ways and through unexpected people.

Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.


Birch, Bruce C. “1 and 2 Samuel.”  The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. II. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1998). (pp.949-967 and 1094-1115).

Brueggemann, Walter “First and Second Samuel.” Interpretation. James Luther Mays, et al. editors. (Louisville, John Knox Press, 1990). (pp. 1-7 and 127-134).