David, the shepherd boy

There remains yet the youngest, and he is tending the sheep. I Samuel 16:11b

In a previous article I mentioned the purpose of my writing; one of which is to make us question the things we have been taught about the Bible. We are going to consider the life of David before he became king of Judah. Was he really a small shepherd boy? Was he a young lad who played music on his harp and occupied himself with a sling while he took care of the sheep? Let’s look a little closer at the biblical account and get the rest of the story.

Although we are going to be looking at the Bible primarily, we should also mention that David is mentioned at least 16 times in the Koran, reference, Wikipedia. They are finding more evidence to support the fact that he did exist as a shepherd boy, a giant killer, and the king of Israel. David was born around 1040 BC and was the youngest of eight boys born to Jesse’s first wife. When Samuel comes to invite Jesse to the sacrifice, either David wasn’t told about it or else he wasn’t invited. If we add to this situation the remarks and attitude of Eliab in I Samuel 17:28, (“I know your pride and the insolence of your heart”), it makes me wonder if there wasn’t a little tension (hostility) in Jesse’s family.

David was around 15 years old when Samuel anointed him king in the midst of his brothers. How much time passed after David was anointed and the killing of Goliath is not clear. He was somewhere between the age of 15 and 19 when Jesse sent him to the battle to check on his brothers. Was David a little boy at that age? When I was 15, I was all but 6 feet tall and weighed 150 pounds. My uncle was around 6 feet 5 inches and weighed around 200 pounds as a junior and senior in high school; he was also strong as an ox. This can give us a little insight as to the size of David.

What does the Bible have to say about David and his youth? Most of us believe that Jonathan and David were somewhat close in age; he (Jonathan) was already an experienced soldier. In I Samuel 13:22, Saul and Jonathon were the only ones in the army that had a sword and spear. The point I am making here is that if David and Jonathan were about the same age, David was also a strong, quick, able fighter, he had already been to war as a soldier. The Bible makes this rather clear in other scripture passages.

In I Samuel 14:52 it says, “And when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him for himself. Saul seen in David a strong and valiant man of war, the King took him as his armor bearer in battle, I Samuel 16:21. In I Samuel 16:18 a servant of Saul says, “Look I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.”

Some people say that David was but a youth because he couldn’t wear Saul’s armor, I Samuel 17:38-39. There are several things we must remember here; armor was not the same for everyone (one size fits all). The armor Goliath had was much larger and heavier than what Saul had; likewise, the armor Saul had did not fit David. I Samuel 9:2 says that Saul was taller than any of the people “from the shoulders upward.” Just because David was of a different build doesn’t mean he was a small boy. Not long after this, David gets the huge sword of Goliath and uses it as his own when he is running from Saul. This fact helps to show that David was what Saul’s servant had said, “a mighty man of valor,” I Samuel 16:18.

Not only was David a strong man of war, he also had faith and confidence in the God of Israel. His faith was active and real in everyday circumstances; he killed a lion, a bear, and then Goliath. Do you have an active faith like David that can be seen through your Godly lifestyle? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com.


Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published two books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.


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