Five Smooth Stones
Wednesday morning, and again on Wednesday evening, I have been asked to fill in for a friend of mine who is the pastor of a local church and teaches a weekly Bible study. This year, he is going through the book The Story, a chronological narrative of the Bible. It combines the author’s perspective on certain stories with actual Scripture and the chapter I have been asked to teach is on the life of David.
Almost every Christian knows that David is referred to as the man who was after God’s own heart. He started out his life as a shepherd boy and was chosen by God as the man to succeed Saul as king. His early life was filled with a closeness to God that most of us would admire. Unfortunately, in his later years, David didn’t fare as well. His sins with Bathsheeba, David’s plan for the death of Uriah, her husband, the eventual death of the child born out of the illegitimate union and many other issues led to a finish that wasn’t as strong as his start. David’s sons were at odds with him and the king’s life was filled with drama for the remainder of his years.
But tonight, I would like to go back and focus on one of the most famous stories in the Bible. That is the story of David and Goliath. Now just in case you have never read or heard this incredibly famous story, it centers on the premise that the Israelites were challenged to a fight by the Philistines. Goliath, a huge man with even larger armor, came out day after day and challenged the Israelites to a battle. The idea was the winner of the battle would determine the outcome for both armies. Of course, nobody from the Israelite side wanted to go out and accept the challenge of Goliath – it seemed to be certain death.
Even Saul, the king, offered a reward to any man who would accept the challenge and fight the huge Philistine. In God’s perfect timing, David, still a teen, arrived at the front line to meet his brothers and overheard the discussions about Goliath. David, offended that the Philistine was insulting the Israelite God, offered to go and fight the battle. Originally dressed in battle attire, David felt confined and finally entered the fight with just his slingshot and five smooth stones that he picked up off the ground. To cut to the end of the story, David pulled a stone from his pouch, slung it at Goliath and killed him. The giant fell to the ground and David beheaded him, taking Goliath’s sword for himself.
David claimed the power of the most high God as his strength. And I don’t disagree with what he did. But there is one element of the story that most people never think about. And that’s where the title of this post comes from… If David was so convinced that God was on his side, why did he choose five smooth stones instead of just one? After all, God doesn’t make mistakes, so it’s not like you would think that David would miss the first four shots. And sure enough, David killed the Philistine with the first stone.
Did you ever wonder what happened to the other four stones? Well, later on in the Old Testament we find out that Goliath had four sons, and David ended up killing them. Therefore, the five stones represented God’s plan for David with the entire family of Goliath. And isn’t that just like God? He’s way ahead of our earthly thinking – and chances are that we don’t even know why we do many of the things that God has already thought about and put into motion.
The verse for tonight is the verse that describes the events leading up to the battle with Goliath. From 1 Sam 17:40, the Bible tells us, “Then he (David) took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” Chances are that you have read this verse many times and not realized that David had more than one stone.
Anyway, that’s the way it is with studying the Bible. There are surprises in many of the stories that we have come to know and love. And there are hundreds more that are just as intriguing as this one. My encouragement tonight is that we serve a God who is much bigger than the god of Goliath or any other god anywhere. He can take the most unlikely circumstance, when the odds are stacked against you, and bring victory to you as quickly as He did to David. My prayer is that you will trust in the Lord the way that David did. Because God already knows the outcome. Live your life expecting miracles, and claim the power and authority of God – you won’t be disappointed. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…