Fear and Dismay

Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belonged to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to 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. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. (I Samuel 17:1-11 KJV)

Goliath the champion of the Philistine took his stand against the Israelites with a challenge to take on any man from Saul’s army. It is interesting that Goliath referred the armies of Israel as “ye servants to Saul”. Saul has probably been the King of Israel for twenty years or more at this time. Samuel the judge that served Israel for forty years before Saul went to Ramah after anointing David. We know from I Samuel 16:2 that he feared Saul after Saul forceful ask Samuel to worship God with him. This was after Saul’s failure of following the Lord’s command to utterly destroy the Amalekites. and the announcement from Samuel that God would take the kingdom of Israel from Saul. With Samuel out of the picture the nation of Israel was no longer referred to as the servants of God but ye servants of Saul.

Verse eleven portrays the conditions in Israel at this time as being in dismayed and greatly afraid. Saul was probably between the age of forty-five to fifty years old at this time. It is interesting that Saul could not find a man in his army to face Goliath. As we look at these eleven verses, we see an enemy that was defeated several years before now leaving the nation of Israel in dismay and afraid. This is what happens when a nation turns away from the way of God. Not only was Israel afraid of the threat from the army of the Philistines they were afraid of one man, the Philistine’s champion.