Jump Start # 2706
1 Samuel 17:40 “He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.”
Our verse today surrounds the courageous, brave and trusting young David. He was off to fight a giant, a literal giant. A warrior. One who stood over nine feet tall. For more than a month, this giant had been taunting Israel. King Saul and his troops hunkered down in fear. They had no plans and there was no way to get around this Philistine. Young David, while taking food to his brothers, hears the blasphemous Philistines. David’s blood boils. How dare anyone say such things about his God. Why won’t anyone go and fight? David, just a shepherd, not a soldier, takes it upon himself to fight this wicked Philistine.
David doesn’t have a sword, armor or even a spear. His weapon of choice is his sling. David has never killed a person before. He’s killed a lion and a bear, but never a person, and never anything so large and experienced as Goliath was. David stops at a brook and picks out five smooth stones. David knows what he is doing. He knows the kind of rocks he needs. And, off he runs, literally running, to meet Goliath in battle.
Oh, the sermons and classes that we have sat through about this story. So many angles and so many layers of things to see. The fear of leaders. The inexperience, yet the courage of youth. The power of God. The victory that belongs to the Lord.
I have always been amazed that David chose five stones. Why five? I don’t think David loaded all five rocks in the sling at the same time. One rock at a time is how slings worked. This wasn’t a machine gun. It was a singe shot sling. So, why five?
Some might wonder and even say aloud, if David truly trusted the Lord all he needed was one stone. Picking up the other four showed a weakness on David’s part. The other stones showed that he wasn’t sure if God would come through or not?
Interestingly, the text does not tell us why David chose five. Why not three? Why not eight? It sure is a stretch and a judgmental spirit to question David’s faith because he picked up five stones and not just one. God doesn’t seem to rebuke David for taking that many rocks. Had David just ran up to the giant without any stones, believing that God would see him through would be just pure foolishness and even testing God. No, David picked up five.
David is just a teen. Maybe he might drop one. Maybe he might miss the giant. Maybe one stone wouldn’t be enough to bring down such a large warrior. Maybe he would have to send one stone to Goliath’s armor bearer. Maybe other Philistines might attack. If he had only one stone and then he was out, he could be in trouble. Five stones. Having more would keep David prepared. He was ready for anything.
Now, don’t you think that we can learn some lessons from all of this. We are not facing a giant, but we are facing uncertain times, pandemics, life out of normal, and a host of things that we do not like.
- I hear some say, “Just trust the Lord.” Some have even ignored local guidelines about safety, masks, social distancing because “we trust in the Lord.” That kind of thinking would have David jumping over the brook and running to the battle lines with nothing. Why do I need a rock? I trust in the Lord? Where is your faith? Why do you need a rock?
Trusting God doesn’t mean you park common sense. And, the problem with common sense is that these days it’s just not very common. Folks run to extremes and they believe the sky is falling all around them. God will get us through, but we also need to stop by a brook and pick up a few rocks. It’s not God alone, nor is it us alone. We partner with God. He’ll do His part, He always does. The question is, will we do our part?
- Anticipation and planning and preparation are woven into those five smooth stones. Kill the giant, and whose to say that his armor bearer won’t charge you? Whose to say that the Philistine line won’t attack? You can say that there was an agreement, whoever is killed becomes the servants of the victor. That’s true, but would you trust the words of Philistines? Five stones. Anticipating. Being prepared. Ready.
So how do we prepare for another pandemic? What have we learned? How do we do things better than what we were doing in the past? Is getting back to normal the best we can do? What have we seen through all of this? Five stones. One for a giant and four others, just in case. Do you have a “just in case” discussion or plan? How many stones are necessary?
- David changed the norm for battle. No soldier would have done what David did. No helmet. No shield. Not even a sword. He had to use Goliath’s sword to cut the giant’s head off. David didn’t have his own sword. Five smooth stones. He changed battle thinking. A young teenager with a bag of rocks and a heart full of God was more powerful that all the weaponry of Israel. And, maybe after all this year, we will look at what works and it may not be what we always thought nor what we have always done. How we do classes, special meetings, evangelism, and keeping people informed may have a whole new look. Five stones. Not helmets, shields and swords.
Some will let this current season pass and be none the different and none the better because of it. Some will just return to the way things were and hope that everyone forgets this year. But for a few, they will have the vision, forethought and insight to see things better, to learn great lessons and to come through this stronger, closer and more practical than ever before.
Five smooth stones…if you had to pick out five things that would have helped you before this pandemic began, what would they have been?