Goliath, the Philistine giant whom David faced in battle, was equipped for close-quarter combat. Several implements of attack and defense are mentioned in these three verses.
Helmet. Goliath’s helmet was designed to protect him from blows by a sword in hand-to-hand fighting. Some ancient helmets were made from wood. Closely woven tree branches, or tough animal hide. But the Philistine army was well equipped with helmets of bronze, a hard metal that was probably an alloy of copper and zinc. Helmets are also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:14; Jeremiah 46:4; and Ezekiel 23:24; 27:10, 38:5.
Body armor. Goliath also wore scale armor, or body armor-probably from his neck to his waist-to protect himself in battle. Scale armor was made of small pieces of metal attached to a solid piece of linen or felt. These small metal pieces moved independently of one another, giving a warrior greater mobility in combat. Body armor like this must have been heavy, cumbersome, and clumsy to someone who wasn’t accustomed to wearing it. With King Saul put his armor on David to send him out to fight Goliath, David took it off with the words, “I cannot go in these. . .because I am not used to them’ (1 Samuel 17:39 NIV).
Greaves. To protect his lower legs. Goliath wore greaves or leg armor, from his knees down to his feet. These were usually made of leather or wood, but Goliath had heavy duty greaves of brass, or bronze.
Javelin. The Hebrew wood being “target” is more correctly translated as “javelin.” As a matter of fact, this word is rendered as “spear” (Job 41:29) and “lance” (Jeremiah 50:42) in other places in the King James Version. A javelin was a shorter and lighter version of the spear. Slung over a soldier’s back so it cold be reached quickly, it was particularly useful in hand-to-hand battles.
Spear. Goliath carried both a javelin and a spear-the javelin for close-quarter combat and the spear for thrusting close in as well as throwing from a distance. A thrusting close in as well as throwing from a distance. A spear’s sharp point was not the only thing that made it a formidable weapon. Apparently its butt end was sharpened or strengthened so it could also be used in battle. Abner killed Asahel with the “hinder end” (“butt,”NIV) of his spear by thrusting it through his stomach (2 Samuel 2:23).
Shield. The final piece of Goliath’s battle gear was a large shield that a carrier held in front of the giant. This protected Goliath from arrows or spears that might be shot or hurled by the enemy. The Hebrew word behind “shield” in this verse makes it clear that it provided full-body protection. This word is also rendered as “buckler” (1 Chronicles 5:18). These shields were about five feet tall for a normal man, but Goliath’s may have been bigger because of his giant size. Made of wood and covered with animal skin, shields like this provided good protection when warriors knelt behind them. They were often pulled together in tight formation to serve as movable breastworks.
1 SAMUEL 17:5-7 He [Goliath] had an helmet of brass bronze, NIV] upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail [scale armor, NIV]. . . . He had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass [bronze javelin, NIV] between his shoulders . . . . The staff [shaft, NIV] of his spear was like a weaver’s beam [rod, NIV]; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.