Then David asked Ahimelech, “Is there not a spear or sword on hand here? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business was urgent.”

9The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want, you may take it. For there is no other but this one.”

And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” (1 Sam. 21:8-10)

I was wondering why would Goliath's sword be kept in the house of the Lord? It seems rather odd that of all places, Yahweh's tabernacle should be chosen as the resting place of the sword of a fallen philistine warrior. Is there any religious or symbolic significance to this?

Edit: David's question "Is there not a spear or sword on hand here?" further implies that it was a normal practice to keep swords at the sanctuary.

  • Goliath must have been a small giant for David to be able to master his sword! Oct 18 '19 at 14:05


How Did Goliath’s Sword Get to Nob?

After David killed Goliath, David used Goliath’s sword to cut off his head (1 Samuel 17:51). Then David took Goliath’s weapons back to his tent (7:53). The Bible doesn’t mention it again until later, when David is fleeing from King Saul who is trying to kill him.

David goes to the town of Nob where he visits with a priest named Ahimelech. David told him that he was an urgent mission from the king and needed bread and a weapon. The priest told him, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want to take it for yourself, then take it” (1 Samuel 21:9). This sword wasn’t like the long heavy swords that medieval knights used but was similar to a long dagger that could be handled easily in battle.

How did Goliath’s sword get into the sanctuary at Nob? The last we heard of it was when David put it in his tent. Although the Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how it got there, David probably dedicated the sword to God as a symbol of his gratefulness for his conquest of Goliath. Since there was no temple in Israel at this time, the large sanctuary at Nob, which was staffed with 85 priests, was the most likely place to do this.

When David was fleeing from Saul he was in need of a sword. He knew that priests didn’t have swords, but he also knew that Goliath’s sword was in the sanctuary at Nob. He had dedicated it to God and now in his time of need, the priest gave it back to him. No doubt that every time that David looked at that sword, he was reminded of God’s faithfulness in defeating Goliath and would continue to be with him in all future battles.

Edit to answer comment: @Bach Perhaps David didn't presume the sword was still there, so he feigned ignorance. Ahimelech may not have been the priest to whom the sword was first presented for 'dedication'. (The OT doesn't tell us, so we're looking for plausible explanations. I posted this one because it checks a lot of boxes - at least in my mind, thus far.)

What I don't get is why David would have placed so much store on the sword of Goliath to have taken it in the first place. It was not the sword that killed Goliath, but the Hand of God directing the stone in the slingshot. David proceeding to cut off dead Goliath's head only over-shadowed God's awesome proof of Power. David should have left the sword on the ground and praised God - not made a show of himself.

For all we know, the sword could have been stolen from David's tent, and then David heard rumors that it was now in the sanctuary at Nob. Personally, I think the 'dedication' more likely.

  • From verse 9 it sure doesn't look like David knew at all that Goliath's, or any, sword was there!
    – Bach
    Oct 18 '19 at 15:13
  • Interesting answer. Maybe David really didn't know that Goliath's sword was in the sanctuary and it was a sign of God faithfulness that he encountered exactly the sword of Goliath there.
    – shamisen
    Oct 23 '19 at 21:47

I have found that sometimes God directs His people to do strange things....simply because He knows of a future need. I’m pretty sure there was nothing odd about David cutting off Goliath’s head. He was a defeated foe, and I guess that, on Goliath’s head would be the mark of the very stone which God led David to choose. Hallelujah!! I think this action honours God. And God still directs His people in extraordinary ways.

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    – Lesley
    Mar 7 at 13:09

The sword of Goliath at Nob would become an encouraging message to David. His fear of Saul whilst running away from him were calmed down by the sword. This reminded him of how God gave him victory over Goliath who had oppressed Israel for a while. God had a message for David that just said, I have your back. The sword of Goliath lifted up the power of God who conquered the Philistines.

In our weaknesses, fear, moments of terror, we need to remind ourselves about moments when God destroyed and brought down those powerful attacks.

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