So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.
As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” – 1 Samuel 17:50-58 ESV
David had just conquered the enemy of the Lord. He had slain Goliath and cut off the giant’s head with his own sword. As a result, the Philistines ran rather than face the prospect of becoming slaves to their much-hated enemies, the Jews. It had been Goliath who had set the conditions for the battle, guaranteeing the enslavement of the army of the losing combatant; but his troops, never expecting him to lose, were unwilling to keep the terms he had established. They turned and ran. But David’s unexpected victory gave the troops of Israel new life and the boldness to pursue the Philistines, all the way back to Goliath’s home town. One man’s faith in God had revealed the power of God, and provided the people of God with the incentive they needed to fight the enemies of God.
David, fresh off his victory, still carrying the severed head of Goliath in his hand, was brought before King Saul. It seems that, while David was already in the employment of Saul, acting as his armor bearer and court musician, the king knew little about him. Neither Saul or his commander, Abner, knew who David’s father was. Which is interesting, because chapter 16 makes it quite clear that Saul had been well-informed about David before he conscripted him into service.
One of the servants said to Saul, “One of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that—he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him.”
So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, the shepherd.” Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine. – 1 Samuel 16:18-19 NLT
But enough time had passed so that Saul had forgotten all about how David had come into his service. And it would seem that Saul was not in the habit of concerning himself with the life details of the men who he forced into service as his soldiers. God had warned the people of Israel just what kind of king Saul would become.
The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. – 1 Samuel 8:11-13 NLT
So it’s not surprising that Saul had no idea who David really was. But it was important that he learn the name of David’s father so that he could fulfill his promise of the reward.
The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes! – 1 Samuel 17:25 NLT
When Saul asked David who his father was, he responded, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite” (1 Samuel 17:58 ESV). In answering Saul’s question, David was revealing something even more significant. This young shepherd boy was from the village of Bethlehem. This somewhat obscure and insignificant spot on the map would one day become the most important destination in the world. It is there that the future Messiah of the Jews would be born.
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. – Luke 2:4 NLT
The prophet Micah prophesied regarding the village of Bethlehem:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. – Micah 5:2 ESV
While David’s defeat of Goliath seems to be the central focus of the story, there is far more going on than initially meets the eye. God is actually paving the way for a much greater victory over a much greater enemy. He is setting the stage for not only David’s kingship, but also that of His Son, the future Messiah and the King of kings and Lord of lords. David slew one man and provided his people with temporary relief from slavery. But Jesus Christ would defeat sin and death, providing men and women with the means by which they might be free from slavery to both. David’s victory breathed new life into the Israelite army. But the victory accomplished by Jesus brought eternal life to all those who place their faith in Him. David defeated Goliath. Jesus defeated Satan. David’s victory was temporary. Jesus’ victory was permanent. The victory David accomplished required the life of a Philistine. The victory Jesus accomplished required His own life. Goliath died for his own sins, having defied the armies of the living God. Jesus died for the sins of others, so that He might become the propitiate or satisfy the just demands of a holy God.
The story surrounding the life of David is intended to foreshadow and point towards the life of Jesus. The young shepherd boy from Bethlehem serves as a representation of the Good Shepherd who was to come.
David was about to find out that his victory, while good news to many, was going to end up creating bad news for him. His conquering of the giant, Goliath, was going to make him a household name and a hero among the people of Israel. And his growing reputation was going to result in a growing rift between he and King Saul. David’s greatest conflicts were ahead of him, not behind him. And his most formidable enemy would prove to be none other than the king of Israel, Saul himself. David’s victory would produce in Saul a growing jealousy, resentment and animosity.