There was this strange moment at a men’s small group where we got into a discussion about Goliath’s head.
Let me give you the setting of this conversation. A group of men were relearning the story of David and Goliath. We talked about David’s faith, Saul’s armor, five smooth stones, and the lack of action by the warriors of Israel. Then, we started discussing how David put the stone in the right spot through the power of God. Then, he took the giant’s sword and cut off his head.
This is the place that I usually end the story. Until someone asked, “What happened to the head?” Well, the end of 1 Samuel chapter 17 says that Abner, the commander of Saul’s armies, grabs David and takes him to the king’s palace in Jerusalem, and verse 57 says, “he was still holding the Philistine’s head.”
Apparently, David had picked up Goliath’s head as a trophy. This might seem shocking to us, but scholars tell us this was a common practice at that point in history. A victor would take his opponent’s head and put it on a pole near his home to demonstrate his power and warn off any other enemies.
At this time in the Bible, Jerusalem is not yet controlled by the Israelites. It will not be until 2 Samuel chapter 5 that David is victorious. Some have speculated that he put the head up there to declare that this city will be his one day. It was a warning sign that no enemy would stand against David and the God he served.
The Bible does not give us any more details about what happened to Goliath’s head, but there is a great deal of speculation. When Jesus is taken out of the city to die on the cross, he is crucified at “the place of the skull.” This has explicit imagery back to Genesis 3 and the work in which God will crush the skull of Satan. But is that it? Many guess that the name may have come one of two ways. Either this is where David displayed the head, or this was the place where it was buried. Thus Jesus gains victory over Satan and all the enemies of the people of God as he establishes his new kingdom.
There is no concrete proof of this theory, but it is interesting to ponder. The God of the Bible weaves together an intricate tale of his work and victories. Everything seems to point to his salvation through Jesus, possibly even the head of Goliath too.