5 smooth stones
We’re all familiar with the account of David taking on that big dude, Goliath. It’s a fun story, and one that demonstrates faith, courage, and trust in God. These are all definitely things we should strive for! But I think there is another aspect to this I hadn’t thought much about until recently.
Reading through the story of David vs. Goliath, we obviously get the impression that David was not lacking in faith. He boldly went before a giant, most likely twice his size, and proclaimed that this ‘uncircumcised Philistine’ would fall before the armies of the Lord! That takes a certain level of faith to do that.
But the part of the account that some question David’s faith is in the question of why he took 5 stones instead of one. Was David afraid he was going to miss? No, I don’t believe the young David, who took on lions to protect his sheep, feared failure. (Besides, why would he grab smooth stones in that case? I personally would have grabbed jagged scary-looking stones, not smooth ones. Maybe rocks with spikes in them…)
So, is ‘five’ significant in some other way or facet of Christianity? There is a popular notion that these represent five areas of Christianity: Faith, Obedience, Service, Prayer, and the Spirit of God. While I don’t necessarily discount such a parallel, I think there is another practical purpose in that number of stones.
There were 5 cities of Philistia that had united to come up to defy the army of Israel: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. They were formidable foes. Until the Philistines were removed, they would be a stumbling block to Israel attaining unity, peace, prosperity, and strength. 2 Sam 21:15-22 tells us there were 4 other giants that were later killed (once David was king). This is confirmed in sum in verse 22:
2Sa 21:22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.
Speculation on my part perhaps, but I believe that David would have known about these other giants, and would have prepared to face them if needed. David knew that taking out Goliath would not wipe out the entire Philistine threat. He was gunning for them all!
I believe that David went the extra mile in this scenario. He felt God was on his side, and that with His power he would be able to gain victory for God’s glory. In battle he ran full force towards Goliath without hesitation. I believe he knew his first stone would hit the target. He was prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty and use the other stones to free Israel for God’s namesake!
Having faith and being willing to go the extra mile to do God’s will should go hand-in-hand. What can we do in our lives to show our faith? Perhaps we can by our willingness to face our battles wholeheartedly and with courage.
I wouldn’t normally connect the two concepts of ‘going the extra mile’ and ‘faith’ but this analogy is not new. In Luke 17 we read that Jesus’s answered the disciples question, ‘how do we get more faith’ by talking about doing more than what is expected and required.
Luk 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith. Luk 17:6 And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up and be planted in the sea! And it would obey you.
Luk 17:7 But which of you who has a servant plowing or feeding will say to him immediately after he has come from the field, Come, recline?
Luk 17:8 Will he not say to him, Prepare something so that I may eat, and gird yourself and serve me until I eat and drink. And afterward you shall eat and drink.
Luk 17:9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.
Luk 17:10 So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do.
This is not to say that we wouldn’t be profitable to people, but that we cannot expect to just “pass the class.” In college, you can ‘pass’ all your classes and settle with a ‘C’ when you could have done better. This is not ideal, nor does it show your willingness to work for a better grade.
God looks at our attitude. If we just want to get by with doing what we have to do, God is in no way bound to ‘thank us’ and much less give us salvation and eternal life.
Knowing that doing more than was even asked of you is advantageous not only to feel accomplished personally, but in some ways, it can help build your faith, and here’s how:
David had great faith. I believe the 5 smooth stones were for the 5 giants opposing Israel. Had the opportunity arisen, perhaps David would have taken them all on. We’re called to fight against spiritual darkness. Let’s have the heart of David and share God’s light like crazy!