Why did David need five stones when he went out to fight Goliath?

Q. In David and Goliath, when David was getting ready to kill the giant, if he had trust in God, why then, did he took five flat stones, when he really needed one?

The story of David and Goliath is, perhaps, the best known of Old Testament stories. You have an incredible antagonist able to frighten an entire army. The protagonist is a mere shepherd boy. By any earthy standard, the outcome of this battle would be “sure thing.” However, when God enters the picture the entire outcome becomes quite different because of faith. It is interesting that David chose five smooth stones from the brook when only one was needed. Why did David do this? There is no reason given in Scripture. Consequently, whatever answer would be given would be purely conjecture. That this “quirk” in Scripture was known to the Rabbis is seen in their attempt to Homerize the event in tradition. According to them the stones actually spoke to David saying, “By us you will kill the giant.” One Christian commentator even surmises such could be true as Jesus once said that if Israel had not acknowledged Him the stones would cry out the acknowledgement (Luke 19:40). The important aspect is that when it came time to fight Goliath, David took but one stone from his shepherd’s bag (1 Samuel 17:49). There in lies the true test of faith. When it came time to act according to faith, David took but one stone rather than having several in his hand to re-load if he missed. As you read the story, this remarkable event becomes an extraordinary expression of faith because David attacked Goliath. He hurled the stone while at a full run! Judges 20:16 tells us that Israel slingers were extremely accurate. Think of the logistics of aiming and throwing a stone while both parties are rapidly approaching each other. By faith, David knew one stone was all he needed for Goliath. James tells that “faith without works is dead, being alone” (2:17-18). David showed his faith by using but one stone when he had a bag full of stones. Why the other four stones? David told Goliath,

1 Sam. 17:46-47
46* “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47* and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

David took four extra stones to either attack or defend himself while the Israelite army joined the battle. This seems more reasonable, but please understand that even this is conjecture. Thanks to David L. Baker for this material, David may be contacted at the following email address: bakerd@amaesd.k12.mi.us

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