The Philistines gathered their armies for war. They met at Socoh in Judah and camped at Ephes Dammim between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites gathered in the Valley of Elah and camped there and took their positions to fight the Philistines. The Philistines controlled one hill while the Israelites controlled another. The valley was between them.
The Philistines had a champion fighter from Gath named Goliath. He was about nine feet, four inches tall. He came out of the Philistine camp with a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of bronze armor that weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. He wore bronze protectors on his legs, and he had a bronze spear on his back. The wooden part of his larger spear was like a weaver’s rod, and its blade weighed about fifteen pounds. The officer who carried his shield walked in front of him.
Goliath stood and shouted to the Israelite soldiers, “Why have you taken positions for battle? I am a Philistine, and you are Saul’s servants! Choose a man and send him to fight me. If he can fight and kill me, we will be your servants. But if I can kill him, you will be our servants.” Then he said, “Today I stand and dare the army of Israel! Send one of your men to fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard the Philistine’s words, they were very scared.
Now David was the son of Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons. In Saul’s time Jesse was an old man. His three oldest sons followed Saul to the war. The first son was Eliab, the second was Abinadab, and the third was Shammah. David was the youngest. Jesse’s three oldest sons followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to Bethlehem, where he took care of his father’s sheep.
For forty days the Philistine came out every morning and evening and stood before the Israelite army.
Jesse said to his son David, “Take this half bushel of cooked grain and ten loaves of bread to your brothers in the camp. Also take ten pieces of cheese to the commander and to your brothers. See how your brothers are and bring back some proof to show me that they are all right. Your brothers are with Saul and the army in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”
Early in the morning David left the sheep with another shepherd. He took the food and left as Jesse had told him. When David arrived at the camp, the army was going out to their battle positions, shouting their war cry. The Israelites and Philistines were lining up their men to face each other in battle.
David left the food with the man who kept the supplies and ran to the battle line to talk to his brothers. While he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out. He shouted things against Israel as usual, and David heard him. When the Israelites saw Goliath, they were very much afraid and ran away.
They said, “Look at this man! He keeps coming out to challenge Israel. The king will give much money to whoever kills him. He will also let whoever kills him marry his daughter. And his father’s family will not have to pay taxes in Israel.”
David asked the men who stood near him, “What will be done to reward the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the shame from Israel? Who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is? Does he think he can speak against the armies of the living God?”
The Israelites told David what would be done for the man who would kill Goliath.
When David’s oldest brother Eliab heard David talking with the soldiers, he was angry with David. He asked David, “Why did you come here? Who’s taking care of those few sheep of yours in the desert? I know you are proud and wicked at heart. You came down here just to watch the battle.”
David asked, “Now what have I done wrong? Can’t I even talk?” When he turned to other people and asked the same questions, they gave him the same answer as before. Yet what David said was told to Saul, and he sent for David.
David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged. I, your servant, will go and fight this Philistine!”
Saul answered, “You can’t go out against this Philistine and fight him. You’re only a boy. Goliath has been a warrior since he was a young man.”
But David said to Saul, “I, your servant, have been keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion or bear came and took a sheep from the flock, I would chase it. I would attack it and save the sheep from its mouth. When it attacked me, I caught it by its fur and hit it and killed it. I, your servant, have killed both a lion and a bear! This uncircumcised Philistine will be like them, because he has spoken against the armies of the living God. The Lord who saved me from a lion and a bear will save me from this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” Saul put his own clothes on David. He put a bronze helmet on his head and dressed him in armor. David put on Saul’s sword and tried to walk around, but he was not used to all the armor Saul had put on him.
He said to Saul, “I can’t go in this, because I’m not used to it.” Then David took it all off. He took his stick in his hand and chose five smooth stones from a stream. He put them in his shepherd’s bag and grabbed his sling. Then he went to meet the Philistine.
At the same time, the Philistine was coming closer to David. The man who held his shield walked in front of him. When Goliath looked at David and saw that he was only a boy, tanned and handsome, he looked down on David with disgust. He said, “Do you think I am a dog, that you come at me with a stick?” He used his gods’ names to curse David. He said to David, “Come here. I’ll feed your body to the birds of the air and the wild animals!”
But David said to him, “You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel! You have spoken against him. Today the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll kill you and cut off your head. Today I’ll feed the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel! Everyone gathered here will know the Lord does not need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to him, and he will hand you over to us.”
As Goliath came near to attack him, David ran quickly to meet him. He took a stone from his bag, put it into his sling, and slung it. The stone hit the Philistine and went deep into his forehead, and Goliath fell facedown on the ground.
So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. He did not even have a sword in his hand. Then David ran and stood beside him. He took Goliath’s sword out of its holder and killed him by cutting off his head.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. The men of Israel and Judah shouted and chased the Philistines all the way to the entrance of the city of Gath and to the gates of Ekron.
The Philistines’ bodies lay on the Shaaraim road as far as Gath and Ekron. The Israelites returned after chasing the Philistines and robbed their camp. David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem and put Goliath’s weapons in his own tent.
When Saul saw David go out to meet Goliath, Saul asked Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, who is that young man’s father?”
Abner answered, “As surely as you live, my king, I don’t know.”
The king said, “Find out whose son he is.”
When David came back from killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul. David was still holding Goliath’s head.
Saul asked him, “Young man, who is your father?”
David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”
1 Samuel 17:1-58 ( New century version)