God of the Plains

The interior of Israel is rugged and hilly.  The Philistines thought that their gods were the gods of the plains, but that Israel’s gods were the gods of the mountains.  The story of David and Goliath is a story that shows Jehovah is God of the hills and the valleys.  This is why Goliath comes out onto the plains and issues a challenge to Israel to come out and face him where his god will give him the advantage.  On the plains his size, his armour, and his god will make him invincible.

The act of challenging an opponent to single combat was probably foreign to the Israelites.  This concept of a champion was known to the Sea Peoples of the Aegean but not to the hill people of Israel.

David has courage that his God is the only God and in that strength he defeats a man who has superior strength, superior military technology, and a home field advantage.  God shows that he is the only true God of everywhere, everyone, and everything.

1 Samuel 17

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

 4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.[a] 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b]; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.[c]His shield bearer went ahead of him.

 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

 12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

 16For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

 17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah[d] of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance[e] from them. 19They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

 20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

 25Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

 26David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

 27They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

 28When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

 29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

 32David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

 33Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

   Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

 38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

   “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

 41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44“Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

 45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

 50So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

 51David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

   When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath[f] and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

 54David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

 55As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

   Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

 56The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

 57As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

 58“Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

   David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”


  1. What problem presents itself to teh Israelites?
  2. What does God reveal about himself in this story?
  3. How is David’s cause moved forward?
  4. Are you facing geographical, technological or interpersonal issues?  What are they?
  5. How could God show himself to be the one God over all your obstacles?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to God of the Plains

  1. Moon Jung Kim[ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.What problem presents itself to teh Israelites? Philistines gathered and assembled for war against the Israelites. The army of the Israelites feared a Champion named Goliath, the Philistine, and no one from the Israelites wanted to come out to fight against him.
    2.What does God reveal about Himself in this story? sovereign God. He revealed His sovereignty of the earth and His power in this story.
    3.How is David’s cause moved forward?
    4.Are you facing geographical, technological or interpersonal issues? What are they? interpersonal issues. a friend of mine manipulates others with his mere words and mere thoughts which are not biblical. also he asserts he is always a victim and people hurt him, so he blames others.
    5.How could God show himself to be the one God over all your obstacles? He could show Himself to us through making us realized that we are small and weak and can do nothing without Him, but He is strong and perfect and can do everything. and also He would show us that He is faithfully working in our lives and these will make us known that He is the one who is over all our obstacles..

  2. Grace Yoo says:

    1. The problem was that the Philistines and the Israelites were in battle but the Israelites were afraid of Goliath, who was from the Philistines.

    2. This story reveals God’s sovereignty and reveals that we should trust in Him.

    3. I am not really sure how David’s cause is moved forward.

    4. Yes, I am dealing with some interpersonal issues. I have a lot of acquaintances, but not a lot of closer friends because I have a hard time trusting people.

    5. God could show Himself that He is the God over all my obstacles by giving me struggles so that I can rely on Him and not myself to fix everything.

  3. Jessica Gentry says:

    1. The Israelites are faced with the problem of the giant man named Goliath who is defiling the name of the Lord and taunting His people.
    2. God revelas His ability to use anybody, and particularly the weak and the unexpected, to do mighty things so that He alone will get the glory for the things that man clearly could not have done alone. As David fought a lion, bear, and the giant man Goliath with no sword or spear.
    3. David’s cause is moved forward as the Lord allows him to be exalted from his humble estate, through his victorious defeat of Goliath,
    4. I would say that I am slightly facing interpersonal issues as I sometimes cannot communicate to friends around me as well as I’d like to, my love for them and my compassion towards them.
    5. God could show Himself to be the one who is over all my obstacles by diminishing my stress in regards to those obstacles, not by taking away the obstacles but by giving me a peace in the midst of them as He reminds me that He is Lord over them all.

  4. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The problem of the Philistines, and in particular Goliath.
    2. God reveals that He is with Israel and is protecting them, and also that He chooses and uses people who seem unprepared and unable to carry out His tasks.
    3. David’s cause is moved forward because Saul saw David’s victory and wanted to learn more about who he was and where he came from.

  5. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1.What problem presents itself to the Israelites?
    The Philistines gathered their forces for war against Israel.
    2.What does God reveal about himself in this story?
    God showed how great He is through David by making him win over Goliath.
    3.How is David’s cause moved forward?
    David’s cause was moved forward as Saul noticed David’s audacity through this event.
    4.Are you facing geographical, technological or interpersonal issues? What are they?
    I’m facing interpersonal issues these days. I’m getting frustrated for the relationships I have in this Moody community. I haven’t had enough time to play around with friends because of a lot of homework, and it ended up making me lack friendships.
    5.How could God show himself to be the one God over all your obstacles?
    God has proven me that He is the one God over all my obstacles by making me seek Him in the midst of all my obstacles that I am facing.

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