1 Samuel 17:40
Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
The story of David and Goliath is one of the most familiar in the whole Bible. For most of the world, this story has become iconic for any fight between mismatched foes, with David as the underdog and Goliath as a menacing and seemingly undefeatable foe. For believers, this story is yet another demonstration of the power of the Almighty God on behalf of His faithful.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
We who believe often enter into real and spiritual battles armed with little more than faith that the Lord our God will see us through. As today’s verse says, David went forward toward the Philistine with just five stones.
Note that David didn’t choose just any stones, but “five smooth stones from the brook.” These were stones that had been shaped and made pleasantly smooth by the action of water in a stream. They were weathered and tried and solid. Rather than choosing jagged stones from the field, David put his hand into the running water and drew forth clean and rounded stones, stones that felt right in his hand and that would fly true to his target. In the end, David would seemingly use only one stone to fell the giant Goliath. Or would he?
If David knew he was likely to get only one shot, why would he choose five stones? I think it is because he actually DID use “five stones” to kill the giant. You see, David went armed with far more than just a handful of rocks. Look at what David says to Goliath when they come face to face:
1 Samuel 17:45
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
The first thing with which David came armed was “the name of the LORD of hosts.” David knew that the stone in his pouch would not be enough to slay the giant on its own, that only the power of the Almighty would be able to give him victory. David recognized that the battle was not between the Israelites and Goliath, but between God and His enemies–the Philistines and anyone else who blasphemed the name of the Lord. And so he came into the battle armed with God’s name, the name of He who commands the hosts of heaven.
1 Samuel 17:46
“This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
David also came armed with two pieces of knowledge: knowledge of his personal salvation, and personal knowledge of the Lord God. Knowing with faith that we are saved by God is powerful and encouraging. Knowledge of our salvation stands as a testimony against the enemies of God, and it reinforces the faith of those who may falter.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
We STAND in the gospel of Christ, the knowledge of our salvation in and through He who was slain, was buried, and who rose again on the third day. That knowledge is very empowering.
Also very empowering is knowing that the Lord has got your back covered, that He is and was and always shall be, that He IS God Almighty, that He does favor the weak, and that He alone is God and there is no other. David knew this God, and soon “all the earth” would know that God, too.
1 Samuel 17:47
“Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
And that is perhaps the greatest of the stones in David’s arsenal: knowledge that the battle is not his but the Lord’s. God will bless the faithful with victory that only His hands can provide. A deeper reading of the Bible will show us that even before David, God provided victory to the vastly outnumbered forces of Israel. Look at the armies under Joshua, or the small force commanded by Gideon, or Samson standing alone against thousands. David was not the first, but because David went from shepherd to king, from seventh son to mighty general, from faithful to sinning and then redeemed, we remember him. This battle between David and Goliath has become the symbol for our spiritual warfare, showing our weakness and our dependence on God.
So David went into battle armed with the name of the Lord God of Israel, the knowledge of his personal salvation, knowledge of the Lord Himself, and assurance that the battle belonged to the Lord. Those were the four stones he first threw at Goliath. And then…
1 Samuel 17:49-50
49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell to the earth.
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David.
Just as David said, “the LORD does not save with sword and spear,” but with tiny stones we can fell any giant. Note that those other four stones never left David’s possession, that the young shepherd would carry that faith and knowledge and confidence in the Lord throughout his whole life. David would use the name of the Lord in battle many times after that day, and the Lord would stand with David any time that David stood up for Him.
Today, you and I are similarly armed. We have in our mouths the name of Jesus Christ. We have within our possession the knowledge of the gospel, which we hold for our personal salvation. We know that there is but one God. And we know that He alone is mighty to save. We have those four stones. But what is our fifth, the one that will fell the giant? In our hands and in our hearts is a great and mighty weapon: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) Those are our five stones, drawn from the living water of Christ Jesus, smooth and true and ready to take down any enemy of God. Armed with such, who could stand against us?
Almighty Father, You alone are God, and to You alone goes the battle–the battles of my life and the battle for my spirit. Through Christ Jesus Your Son, You have saved me, drawing me form waters that threatened to overwhelm me, giving me victory where there seemed to be none. Today I pray, Lord God, that You will stand with me in my greatest battles against the enemy, and that I shall always be armed with Your truth. Amen.