David Really Killed a Lion in the Bible | Here’s How We Know

Travis Kauffman and King David

I’ve read some amazing Bible stories. Some of them are easier to believe than others.

For example, David claimed to kill a lion with his bare hands in 1 Samuel 17:34-37. I always wanted to know if this was true, but I had no way of confirming it.

So did David kill a lion in the Bible?

Since a Colorado trail runner killed a lion with his bare hands on February 4th 2019, David’s story has a whole new level of credibility. I think it’s safe to say David really did kill a Lion.

The David and the Lion Bible Story

When David defeated the lion, it happened before the famous encounter between David and Goliath.

Of course, the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den is much more popular.

And Samson is more famous than David for killing a lion in the book of Judges 14.

While David’s lion story is lesser known, it was an important stepping stone for David.

If he hadn’t killed the lion, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to fight Goliath.

He wouldn’t have even qualified to fight Goliath.

David had quite a conversation with then-King Saul when David wanted to fight Goliath.

Saul wasn’t so sure the teenage David was up to the task of fighting and prevailing against a Giant who was an experienced warrior.

Not only did David kill a lion. He also claimed to have killed a bear.

In this Bible passage, a young David is about to fight and kill the Philistine giant.

King Saul is trying to talk him out of it. Let’s roll the scene:

David Saves Sheep from Lion

David reveals what he’s been up to for the last few years of his young life.

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:34-37 NLT

David claims he’s going to kill Goliath the same way he killed the lion and the bear.

Up until now, how do we know he killed the lion and the bear?

Because after he made this strong claim that he was going to kill this giant man, he went out and killed Goliath just as he said he would.

Based on this alone, we have evidence that David did -in fact- kill the lion.

Not only that, but he says he dealt with multiple lions and bears this way!

Related Content:

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Man Kills Lion with Bare Hands

Did David really kill a lion and a bear?

That’s what he claims.

As a young lad of 15-17 years.

While talking to the King of Israel.

Just between you and me, it’s not such a good idea to lie to the King of Israel. He’d better be telling the truth.

Do we have independent confirmation from a disinterested third party?


An eyewitness? You know –besides David himself?


Maybe a lion pelt, or a bear tooth –you know- some kind of trophy?


And here’s where the skeptics have a field day. You can almost see them ready to pounce…like…you know… a lion.

Man vs. Mountain Lion

Mountain lions are elusive creatures. They are seldom seen.

Usually when there’s a story about an encounter, a human sees one and gets away because they followed their instincts.

Or they raised their hands above their head and made loud noises and convinced the lion to go bother somebody else.

All good ideas.

Sometimes the story is even more harrowing. People get injured by the big cats, but they somehow escape.

It’s tough, but at least the story has a happy ending.

Sometimes the story isn’t so happy, and the human becomes a statistic.

Travis Kauffman Lion Attack

On February 4th, 2019, Travis Kauffman was training for a race.

He went running in a Colorado wilderness area called Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.

Travis heard something rustling behind him. He’d heard things like this before.

It could have been a bird or a squirrel. But something sounded different about this rustling, so he turned toward the sound.

He turned just in time.

A mountain lion pounced on him, but Travis saw the big cat at just the right time to fight back. And fight he did.

When you’re fighting a wild animal that pound-for-pound is many times your strength –and it has sharp claws and fangs- it’s going to be a real fight.

Travis was able to get just the right leverage to strangle the big cat and finally work himself free of its jaws after it breathed its last breath.

Here’s the remarkable video about Travis Kauffman’s escape:

Here’s Travis Kauffman after his rough outing with the Lion. He’s maybe not looking the best, but the Lion didn’t do so well either. How did David look after he killed the Lion?

Mountain Lion Attacks in North America 

Since the year 1900, 125 mountain lion (also known as cougars) attacks have been recorded in North America.

There have been 27 human fatalities. And now they just racked up their first mountain lion fatality.

If you view Travis’ story, you can see it was quite a struggle.

As with the Biblical David, you can easily say he was delivered from the paw of the lion.

I don’t think Travis mentioned God, but maybe as he reflects on the experience he may one day see the hand of God in his escape.

Did David Really Kill a Lion and a Bear?

Many Bible stories seemed incredible when we first heard them.

When we take a deeper look, we find that though a few Bible stories seem incredible, there is great evidence backing them up.

For example:

The Fall of the Walls of Jericho

The impenetrable walls of Jericho seemed like they could never have fallen like the Bible said.

Skeptics and cynics claimed it was a fable that only gullible people would believe.

But then archaeologists used the Bible (Joshua chapters 4,5&6) to locate Jericho.

When they dug into the ruins of the ancient city, they found it there.

The walls had fallen outward –showing that they hadn’t been pushed in by an outside invasion force, but had fallen just the way the Bible said they had.

There were still signs of the fire that had been faithfully recorded 3300 years earlier in the Bible.

Seeds found in jars yielded important clues about the people who lived there and the date of the fall of this once-great city. 

Skeptics and cynics don’t bring up Jericho anymore.

The History of Pontius Pilate

For almost 2000 years, scholars could find little or no evidence of Pontius Pilate outside the Bible.

They used this fact to claim the Bible was wrong.

Surely this mention of Pontius Pilate must be a mistake or an inaccuracy in the Bible!

Some skeptics and cynics claimed Pontius Pilate never existed until archaeologists unearthed a tablet and a ring with his inscription on it near Jerusalem in 1961.

They said the Bible was only one source.

It needed to be corroborated by outside sources if the story were to be proven, because they did not trust the reliability of the Bible.

The tablet with the inscription was found right where you would expect to find it if you were reading the Bible.

Skeptics and cynics never talk about Pontius Pilate anymore -as with many other amazing Bible stories that have been proven by various means.

Samson and the Lion

David isn’t the only Bible figure to record a victory over a lion:

In Judges 14: Samson declares his victory over a Lion that he killed with his bare hands:

“As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it.” Judges 14:5-8 NLT

Samson performed many other exploits and feats of strength as a judge of Israel.

David Slew his Tens of Thousands

We read above in 1 Samuel 17 how David tells the Lion story to Saul to convince him he can defeat Goliath.

Note that there’s no record before this time of David boasting of his victory over the lion.

Now we read that David’s victory over Goliath led to a gigantic victory for Israel over the entire Philistine army and there was a huge celebration.

When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul.

They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. 

This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” 1Sam 18:6-7

Because of Christ’s victory over the enemy, we can also have a huge celebration!

An Anvil that Has Worn Out Many Hammers

Through the centuries, the Bible has revealed secret after secret, showing it’s eternal worth.

Wise men, women and children have learned and grown from it.

The Bible has been described as “an anvil that has worn out many hammers.”

Thanks to Travis Kauffman and a short-lived mountain lion, now there’s another worn-out hammer.

Is your Faith Founded on Fact? Have you committed to follow Jesus?

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