Why did David take five smooth stones to take on Goliath? Was he afraid he’d miss?
The Battle is the Lords
David, as a young teenager and a shepherd who had been tending sheep probably since he was a very young child, knew a lot about tending sheep and how dangerous it was to protect them from predators. At the time in which David lived, there were a lot more predators than there are today. When David saw that Goliath was blaspheming the good name of God and His chosen people, Israel, “David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (1st Sam 17:34-36). David’s point was not that he was able to take down these lions and bears by himself but, as David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you” (1st Sam 17:37). In other words, the battle was the Lord’s and not David’s or Saul’s or Israel’s. We must give glory to God and acknowledge that it is the Lord Who does battle for us because we alone could never take down any Goliath or any gigantic problem we’re facing today. Just leave it to the Lord. The battle is His!
Goliath Insults God and Israel
After King Saul agreed to let David go against Goliath, he tried putting on Saul’s armor and helmet, but as you can imagine, they were way too big and would actually make him more vulnerable, so David says “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine” (1st Sam 17:39b-40). I liked what David did. He thought that he didn’t really need the armor and helmet, not so much that they weren’t tested, but David depended on God and “said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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” (1st Sam 17:45). He came in the Lord’s name, thereby giving God the glory and saying “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1st Sam 17:46), and by slaying Goliath, “all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1st Sam 17:47).
Does it bother you when someone blasphemes God’s name by using it as a curse word? It does me. I’m not suggesting that we go up against them, but when I hear it, I say, “Excuse me” and especially if there are children around, I remind them, “There are children present.” Sometimes it’s not a good reaction but at other times, the person apologized and didn’t even realize that they did it. That’s how casual we are with God’s name anymore, but God will not hold them guiltless who take His name in vain (Ex 20:7), as Goliath would soon find out.
Why the Five Stones and Staff?
Since there was only one Goliath, why did David go with “his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine” (1st Sam 17:40)? Perhaps the staff was a backup in case he missed Goliath with the stones? I’m not sure because the Bible doesn’t tell us why David also took his staff with him. He had used that, I am sure, to defend the sheep against predators, but Goliath was much more than that. As for the five smooth stones, why would David not only need one since he was confident that the Lord would “give you into our hand” (1st Sam 17:47)? Goliath was not the only one of his kind. Goliath had brothers plus there were other descendants of gigantic men from Gath (1st Chron 20:5-8), from the same place that Goliath had come from (1 Sam 17:4). Apparently David was ready in the event any of Goliath’s brothers came with him or any of the other so-called giants that came from Gath. David did what we are to do. He made provisions for the future and was ready for any trouble in advance, but he still relied on and trusted in God to fight the battle for him. God is sovereign. First Chronicles 20:5-8 may explain why David brought five stones instead of one as it says later on, “there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants” (1st Chron 20:5-8).
Are you facing a giant problem, much greater in size and stature than Goliath? What mountain are you faced with today that will take more than your own “five smooth stones” to deal with? What you and I should do when faced with impossible circumstances is to put our trust in God and say what David said: “For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1st Sam 17:47b). The battle is not ours, and for that I am thankful because we wouldn’t have a chance, but since “God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31)? Not even Goliath would stand a chance.
Read the story of David and Goliath here: Bible Story of David & Goliath
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.