“And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook; and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.” (I Sam 17:40) The Philistine in this verse was Goliath and his adversary with the five stones was the shepherd boy David. Most of us know what happened next and that David only needed one stone to fell his giant opponent, but we can attach some meanings to those five stones he collected, meanings that were applicable to David yet are also instructional to us today.
We can name his first stone courage. The whole Israelite army shook with fear when confronted by the giant Philistine, even King Saul who was taller than all around him. But for David, years of protecting his flocks from predators gave him a boldness to face all challenges, a trait that repeated itself in his life throughout Scripture.
And so we can name his second stone confidence. Each victory won, no matter how small, added to David’s faith and confidence. He didn’t trust his youthful abilities alone but also in the power and supremacy of his God.
David’s third stone we will label preparation. Do you think he just sat and played his harp all day sheep-tending? He practiced with his sling, really the only weapon he had except possibly for a small dagger. We can all agree; shooting a gun, playing an instrument, throwing a football; if you practice you will get better. Practice enough and you can reach virtuoso status; an expert. But the day will come when you need to perform what you’ve rehearsed. David was ready physically; he had skill with his sling, and he was also prepared spiritually. He knew his God, and he knew what he could do with God on his side. He was more incensed at Goliath’s blasphemy of his God than the insults that were directed against him.
His fourth stone is trust or belief; we can even call it faith. He believed God gave him a victory before flinging the first stone. Despite the threats and Goliath’s size, David trusted God for the outcome. David had the kind of faith that can move mountains and succeed against all odds.
And his fifth stone, the one he used, was victory. In the natural world we don’t send raw recruits into battle without training, or hand a violin to a beginner and place him in a symphony orchestra. Success can only be obtained by diligent practice, confidence in one’s ability, believing victory is possible, and the courage to attempt that which seems overwhelming.
Are you ready to face off against your adversaries; your giants? Has the spirit of God moved you to collect your five stones before battle? If it has, do your stones also have the names of the five stones of David?