(1 Samuel 16:17–18:30)

The colored words in italic type are found only in the Hebrew version (MT); all other words are found in both the Hebrew version and the Greek version (LXX).

16:17So Saul said to his countries, “Find me someone who can play well and bring him to me.” 18One of the attendants spoke up, “I have observed a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilled in music; he is a stalwart fellow and a warrior, sensible in speech, and handsome in appearance, and the Lord is with him.” 19Whereupon Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, who is with the flock.” 20Jesse took an ass laden with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them to Saul by his son David. 21So David came to Saul and entered his service; Saul took a strong liking to him and made him one of his arms-bearers. 22Saul sent word to Jesse, “Let David remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” 23Whenever the [evil] spirit of God came upon Saul, David would take the lyre and play it; Saul would find relief and feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

17:1The Philistines assembled their forces for battle; they massed at Socoh of Judah, and encamped at Ephes-dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. 2Saul and the men of Israel massed and encamped in the valley of Elah. They drew up their line of battle against the Philistines, 3with the Philistines stationed on one hill and Israel stationed on the opposite hill; the ravine was between them. 4A champion of the Philistine forces stepped forward; his name was Goliath of Gath, and he was six cubits and a span tall. 5He had a bronze helmet on his head, and wore a breastplate of scale armor, a bronze breastplate weighing five thousand shekels. 6He had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung from his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s bar, and the iron head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels; and the shield-bearer marched in front of him.

8He stopped and called out to the ranks of Israel and he said to them, “Why should you come out to engage in battle? I am the Philistine champion, and you are Saul’s servants. Choose one of your men and let him come down against me. 9If he bests in combat and kills me, we will become your slaves; but if I best him and kill him, you shall be our slaves and serve us.” 10And the Philistine ended, “I herewith defy the ranks of Israel. Get me a man and let’s fight it out!” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and terror stricken.

12David was the son of a certain Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah whose name was Jesse. He had eight sons, and in the days of Saul the man was already old, advanced in years. 13The three oldest sons of Jesse had left and gone with Saul to the war. The names of his three sons who had gone to the war were Eliab the firstborn, the next Abinadab, and the third Shammah; 14and David was the youngest. The three oldest had followed Saul, 15and David would go back and forth from attending on Saul to shepherd his father’s flock at Bethlehem.

16The Philistine stepped forward morning and evening and took his stand for forty days.

17Jesse said to his son David, “Take an ephah of this parched corn and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers in camp. 18Take these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousands. Find out how your brothers are and bring some token from them.” 19Saul and the brothers and all the men of Israel were in the valley of Elah, in the war against the Philistines.

20Early next morning, David left someone in charge of the flock, took [the provisions], and set out, as his father Jesse had instructed him. He reached the barricade as the army was going out to the battle lines shouting the war cry. 21Israel and the Philistines drew up their battle lines apposite each other. 22David left his baggage with the man in charge of the baggage and ran toward the battle line and went to greet his brothers. 23While he was talking to them, the champion, whose name was Goliath, the Philistine of Gath, stepped forward from the Philistine ranks and spoke the same words as before; and David heard him.

24When the men of Israel saw the man, they fled in terror. 25And the men of Israel were saying, “Do you see that man coming out? He comes out to defy Israel! The man who kills him will be rewarded by the king with great riches; he will also give him his daughter in marriage and grant exemption to his father’s house in Israel. 26David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills that Philistine and removes the disgrace from Israel? Who is that uncircumcised Philistine that the dares defy the ranks of the living God?” 27the troops told him in the same words what would be done for the man who killed him.

28When Eliab, his oldest brother, heard him speaking to the men, Eliab became angry with David and said, “Why did you come down here, and with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your impudence and your impertinence: you came down to watch the fighting! 29But David replied, “What have I done now? I was only asking!” 30And he returned away from him toward someone else; he asked the same question, and the troops gave him the same answer as before. 31the things David said were overheard and were reported to Saul, who had him brought over.

32David said to Saul, “Let no man’s courage fail him. Your servant will go and fight that Philistine!” 33But Saul said to David, “You cannot go to that Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth!” 34David replied to Saul, “Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep, and if a lion or a bear came and carried off an animal from the flock, 35I would go after it and fight it and rescue it from its mouth. And if it attacked me, I would seize it by the beard and strike it down and kill it. 36Your servant has killed both lion and bear, and that uncircumcised Philistine shall end up like one of them, for he has defied the ranks of the living God. 37The Lord,” David went on, “who saved me from lion and bear will also save me from that Philistine.” “Then go,” Saul said to David, “and may the Lord be with you!”

38Saul clothed David in his own garment; he placed a bronze helmet on his head and fastened a breastplate on him. 39David girded his sword over his garment. Then he tried to walk; but he was not used to it. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk in these, for I am not used to them.” So he David took them off. 40He took his stick, picked a few smooth stones from the wadi, put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag and, sling in hand, he went toward the Philistine.

41The Philistine, meanwhile, was coming closer to David, preceded by his shieldbearer. 42And the Philistine looked and he saw David; he scorned him, for he was but a boy, ruddy and handsome. 43And the Philistine called out to David, “Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?” The Philistine cursed David by his gods; 44and the Philistine said to David, “Come here, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.”

45David replied to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hands. I will kill you and cut off your head; and I will give the carcasses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. All the earth shall know that there is a God in Israel. 47And this whole assembly shall know that the Lord can give victory without sword or spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver you into our hands.”

48When the Philistine began to come and advance toward David, David quickly ran up to the battle line to face the Philistine. 49David put his hand into the bag; he took out a stone and slung it. It struck the Philistine in the forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. 50Thus David bested the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck him down and killed him. David had no sword. 51So David ran up and stood over the Philistine, grasped his sword and pulled it from its sheath; and with it he dispatched him and cut off his head.

When the Philistines saw that their warrior was dead, they ran. 52The men of Israel and Judah rose up with a war cry and they pursued the Philistines all the way to Gai and up to the gates of Ekron; the Philistines fell mortally wounded along the road to Shaarim up to Gath and Ekron. 53Then the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines and looted their camp.

54David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; and he put his weapons in his own tent.

55When Saul saw David going out to assault the Philistine, he asked his commander Abner, “Whose son is that boy, Abner?” And Abner replied, “Then find out whose son that young fellow is,” the king ordered. 57 So when David returned after killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him to Saul, with the head of the Philistine still in his hand, 58Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, my boy?” And David answered, “The son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

18:1When he finished speaking with Saul, Jonathan’s soul became bound up with the soul of David; Jonathan loved David as himself. 2Saul took him [into his service] that day and would not let him return to his father’s house.—3Jonathan and David made a pact, because he loved him as himself. 4Jonathan took off the cloak and tunic he was wearing and gave them to David, together with his sword, bow, and belt. 5David went out, and he was successful in every mission on which Saul sent him, and Saul put him in command of all the soldiers; this pleased all the troops and Saul’s courtiers as well. 6When they came home [and] David returned from killing the Philistine, the women of all the towns of Israel came out singing and dancing to greet King Saul with timbrels, shouting, and sistrums. 7The women sang as they danced, and they chanted: Saul has slain his thousands; David his tens of thousands! 8Saul was much distressed and greatly vexed about the matter. For he said, “To David they have given tens of thousands, and to me they have given thousands. All that he lacks is the kingship!” 9From that day on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. 10The next day an evil spirit of God gripped Saul and he began to rave in the house, while David was playing [the lyre], as he did daily. Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and Saul threw the spear, thinking to pin David to the wall. But David eluded him twice. 12Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him and had turned away from Saul. 13So Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him chief of a thousand, to march at the head of the troops. 14David was successful in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him; 15and when Saul saw that he was successful, he dreaded him. 16All Israel and Judah loved David, for he marched at their head.

17Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab, I will give her to you in marriage; in return, you be my warrior and fight the battles of the Lord.” Saul thought: “Let not my hand strike him; let the hand of the Philistines strike him, ” 18David replies to Saul, “Who am I and what is my life—my father’s family in Israel—that I should become Your Majesty’s son-in-law?” 19But at the time that Merab, daughter of Saul, should have been given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel the Meholathite. 20Now Michal, daughter of Saul, had fallen in love with David; and when this was reported to Saul, it the matter was pleasing for him. 21Saul thought: “I will give her to him, and she can serve as a snare for him, so that the Philistines may kill him.” So Saul said to David, “You can become my son-in-law even now through the second one.” 22And Saul instructed his courtiers to say to David privately, “The king is fond of you and all his courtiers like you. So why not become the king’s son-in-law?” 23When the king’s courtiers repeated these words to David, David replied, “Do you think that becoming the son-in-law of a king is a small matter, when I am but a poor man of no consequence?” 24Saul’s courtiers reported to him saying, “This is what David answered.” 25And Saul said, “Say this to David: ‘The king desires no other bride price than the foreskins of a hundred Philistines, as vengeance on the king’s enemies.’ ”—Saul intended to bring about David’s death at the hands of the Philistines.—26When his courtiers told this to David, David was pleased with the idea of becoming the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27David went out with his men and killed two hundred Philistines, David brought their foreskins and they were counted out for the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. He Saul then gave him his daughter Michal in marriage. 28When Saul saw and knew the Lord was with David and that Michal daughter of Saul loved him, 29and he Saul grew still more afraid of David; and Saul was David’s enemy ever after.

30The Philistine chiefs marched out to battle; and every time they marched out, David was more successful than all the other officers of Saul. His reputation soared.

The translation follows the New Jewish Version of the Jewish Publication Society. The words in brackets are the translator’s addition.