1 Samuel 17:37
NKJV - 37 Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!
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With regard to a specific age of David at any particular point in his life, the only early reference mentioned by the Bible (in 2 Samuel 5:4) was that he was thirty years old when Saul died, and a war of succession broke out between the followers of David (whom Samuel had anointed at God's direction some years earlier, following God's rejection of Saul due to Saul's disobedience), and the followers of Saul's son Ish-bosheth. According to Numbers 1:3, the age at which an Israelite man was subject to military duty was 20. 1 Samuel 17:13 says that the three oldest sons of Jesse (David's father) had followed Saul to war against the Philistines. David was Jesse's eighth and youngest son. Thus, if Jesse's fourth-born son was no older than 19, David could have been no older than 16 at that time (assuming that all of Jesse's sons had the same mother; that there were no intervening daughters; and that there were no multiple births). That David was not considered eligible for military service can be seen from the fact (as noted in 1 Samuel 17:17-20) that he was performing duties such as "shuttling" between his home in Bethlehem (where he was mentioned as still tending his father's sheep) and the battle zone, serving as a courier by delivering supplies to his brothers, and performing such assigned functions as playing the lyre for Saul in order to drive away the tormenting spirit from God that periodically troubled Saul, and being Saul's armor-bearer, rather than wearing armor and being a warrior on his own. (When Saul tried to outfit David with armor to fight Goliath, David took it off, because he was not used to it, and it was too cumbersome for him (1 Samuel 17:38-39).) However (and even though Saul had said to David, "You are but a youth," when David had offered to fight Goliath), David would have had to have been of sufficient age, size, strength, and skill to have killed the lion and the bear that had attacked the sheep that David had been tending for his father (as David mentioned to Saul in 1 Samuel 17:34-37). He would also have had to be old enough to have developed sufficient skill in playing the lyre to the point where he would have been considered suitable for serving Saul in that regard. Thus, an age of 16 (as arrived at above) for David at the time that he killed Goliath would appear to be a plausible blending of all these considerations.
David is described by Matthew Henry as a "young man." The fact that David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse & likely lived in his father's house as he obeyed his father (1 Sam 17:17-18) doesn't really tell us anything. Most unmarried men in those days did remain in the home of their parents & were subject to them. But Saul describes David as a "youth" (1 Sam 17:33 & 55) The word Saul used as "youth" in Hebrew is 'nahar' which is used 238 X's in the OT & it means a "boy, a lad or a servant", never as an adult man which is consistent with how the word is used in other verses. And a 'youth' even by today's standards would be an adolescent or even a juvenile of 20 years or less. He was referred to as "a man after GOD's own heart" (1 Sam 13:13) & we know too that he was brave & resourceful, for he killed a lion & a bear (1 Sam 17:34-37). When Saul was rejected by the LORD from his reign as king of Israel, David was anointed by Samuel. (Good read - 1 Sam 16:1-13) Saul made David captain of a thousand men & he saw that David was wise, that the LORD was with him, so much so that Saul feared him. (1 Sam 18:12-16) Goliath on the other hand was a well seasoned warrior, having been a man of war from his "youth". (1 Sam 17:33) Besides the fact that he was by height & size standards of the time, a giant. The Masoretic text says of Goliath that he was 6 cubits & a span tall, while the Septuagint says 4 cubits & a span. But whether he was 9.6 or 6.6, he was still likely a head or more taller than any of the Israelites, especially David who was just a "youth" not fully grown. A "cubit" is rather ambiguous in that it depends on the individual how long a cubit is. Measured from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger it can vary a lot. My "cubit" is 17" but on my husband who was 6.2, it was over 20". So if it was an Israelite's cubit, it was likely much as mine as they were generally about 5.6 But if it was a cubit from those in Gath, descendants of the Anakim (from Anak), (Num 13:33; Deut 2:11 & 20; 2 Sam 21:15-16) it would have been much longer! Which if we just consider what a cubit is to Shaq at 7.1 or Mr. Kosen who according to Guinness World Records is the tallest man living today at 8.3, it would make a lot of diference! Regardless of the difference of opinion of how tall Goliath was, we know from the description of his armor that he was massive in strength. 1 Sam 17 describes Goliath's coat of mail as weighing 5,000 'shekels' which my unit conversion table says is about 125 #'s. And the "iron spearhead" weighed about 15 #'s. The weight of his helmet, his leg armor, his javelin & the staff of his spear which is said to have been like a "weaver's beam" only added to the weight that he carried. David couldn't even carry, let alone walk with the armor that Saul gave him to wear. (1 Sam 17:38-39) All he needed was a sling & 5 stones which after her did the giant in, he still had 4 stones remaining in his pouch! Which only goes to show that the LORD can do mighty things with so little!
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