David and Goliath by Sara Cone Bryant
A long time ago, there was a boy named David, who lived in a country
far east of this. He was good to look upon, for he had fair hair and a
ruddy skin; and he was very strong and brave and modest. He was
shepherd-boy for his father, and all day—often all night—he was out
in the fields, far from home, watching over the sheep. He had to guard
them from wild animals, and lead them to the right pastures, and care
By and by, war broke out between the people of David's country and a
people that lived near at hand; these men were called Philistines, and
the people of David's country were named Israel. All the strong men of
Israel went up to the battle, to fight for their king. David's three
older brothers went, but he was only a boy, so he was left behind to
care for the sheep.
After the brothers had been gone some time, David's father longed very
much to hear from them, and to know if they were safe; so he sent for
David, from the fields, and said to him, "Take now for thy brothers an
ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp,
where thy brothers are; and carry these ten cheeses to the captain of
their thousand, and see how thy brothers fare, and bring me word
again." (An ephah is about three pecks.)
David rose early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and
took the corn and the loaves and the cheeses, as his father had
commanded him, and went to the camp of Israel.
The camp was on a mountain; Israel stood on a mountain on the one side,
and the Philistines stood on a mountain on the other side; and there
was a valley between them. David came to the place where the
Israelites were, just as the host was going forth to the fight,
shouting for the battle. So he left his gifts in the hands of the
keeper of the baggage, and ran into the army, amongst the soldiers, to
find his brothers. When he found them, he saluted them and began to
talk with them.
But while he was asking them the questions his father had commanded,
there arose a great shouting and tumult among the Israelites, and men
came running back from the front line of battle; everything became
confusion. David looked to see what the trouble was, and he saw a
strange sight: on the hillside of the Philistines, a warrior was
striding forward, calling out something in a taunting voice; he was a
gigantic man, the largest David had ever seen, and he was all dressed
in armor, that shone in the sun: he had a helmet of brass upon his
head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and he had greaves of brass
upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders; his spear
was so tremendous that the staff of it was like a weaver's beam, and
his shield so great that a man went before him, to carry it.
"Who is that?" asked David.
"It is Goliath, of Gath, champion of the Philistines," said the
soldiers about. "Every day, for forty days, he has come forth, so, and
challenged us to send a man against him, in single combat; and since no
one dares to go out against him alone, the armies cannot fight." (That
was one of the laws of warfare in those times.)
"What!" said David, "does none dare go out against him?"
As he spoke, the giant stood still, on the hillside opposite the
Israelitish host, and shouted his challenge, scornfully. He said, "Why
are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine,
and ye servants of Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come
down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will
we be your servants; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then
shall ye be our servants, and serve us. I defy the armies of Israel
this day; give me a man, that we may fight together!"
When King Saul heard these words, he was dismayed, and all the men of
Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were sore afraid.
David heard them talking among themselves, whispering and murmuring.
They were saying, "Have ye seen this man that is come up? Surely if
any one killeth him that man will the king make rich; perhaps he will
give him his daughter in marriage, and make his family free in Israel!"
David heard this, and he asked the men if it were so. It was surely
so, they said.
"But," said David, "who is this Philistine, that he should defy the
armies of the living God?" And he was stirred with anger.
Very soon, some of the officers told the king about the youth who was
asking so many questions, and who said that a mere Philistine should
not be let defy the armies of the living God. Immediately Saul sent
for him. When David came before Saul, he said to the king, "Let no
man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with
But Saul looked at David, and said, "Thou art not able to go against
this Philistine, to fight with him, for thou art but a youth, and he
has been a man of war from his youth."
Then David said to Saul, "Once I was keeping my father's sheep, and
there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock; and I
went out after the lion, and struck him, and delivered the lamb out of
his mouth, and when he arose against me, I caught him by the beard, and
struck him, and slew him! Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear;
and this Philistine shall be as one of them, for he hath defied the
armies of the living God. The Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of
the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the
hand of this Philistine."
"Go," said Saul, "and the Lord be with thee!"
And he armed David with his own armor,—he put a helmet of brass upon
his head, and armed him with a coat of mail. But when David girded his
sword upon his armor, and tried to walk, he said to Saul, "I cannot go
with these, for I am not used to them." And he put them off.
Then he took his staff in his hand and went and chose five smooth
stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had;
and his sling was in his hand; and he went out and drew near to the
And the Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man that
bore his shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about
and saw David, he disdained him, for David was but a boy, and ruddy,
and of a fair countenance. And he said to David, "Am I a dog, that
thou comest to me with a cudgel?" And with curses he cried out again,
"Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and
to the beasts of the field."
But David looked at him, and answered, "Thou comest to me with a sword,
and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of
the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast
defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand; and I will
smite thee, and take thy head from thee, and I will give the carcasses
of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and
to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there
is a God in Israel! And all this assembly shall know that the Lord
saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and he
will give you into our hands."
And then, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet
David, David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
And when he was a little way from him, he put his hand in his bag, and
took thence a stone, and put it in his sling, and slung it, and smote
the Philistine in the forehead, so that the stone sank into his
forehead; and he fell on his face to the earth.
And David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and
drew it out of its sheath, and slew him with it.
Then, when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
But the army of Israel pursued them, and victory was with the men of
And after the battle, David was taken to the king's tent, and made a
captain over many men; and he went no more to his father's house, to
herd the sheep, but became a man, in the king's service.