Monday, November 9, 2009

Five Smooth Stones

Is it an arrogant assumption that everyone knows the story of David and Goliath? The idea finds uses in our contemporary vernacular from the playground to the sports broadcast. It is the classic tale of the underdog prevailing. And really, who doesn't love to root for the underdog?

I read this biblical story a few weeks ago and despite my previous knowledge of how it all went down, some new details, or old details I hadn't caught before, stuck themselves to my brain. I can't stop thinking about this little shepherd going up against a nine foot tall giant covered in iron. The little guy's ammunition? Five smooth stones.

David goes to the battle because his dad, Jesse, sent him to check on his brothers, who had been sitting at in impasse with the other army for forty days. He's basically a courier, taking cheese to the big boys. When the army tells David that no one will fight the giant, Goliath, David flips. His understanding is that anyone should be willing because they are the army of God.

He tries on the king's armor, but it's enormous and he's not used to it. So, he takes his sling shot, grabs five smooth stones and goes out to the battle. Of course, the giant thinks this is hilarious, and if you were the giant you probably would, too. Then David does the unimaginable: he fires up the slingshot with one of his five stones and lets it rip. It sinks into the giant's forehead, whereupon he falls to the ground. David rushes over and cuts off his head. I imagine a hushed crowd on all sides, here. Maybe some crickets chirping...

The point is, five smooth stones. David of course had training. He was a shepherd and his job was to protect the sheep at all costs. He knew how to fight bears and lions. But, he did not go to the army looking for a fight. He was simply carrying out his dad's orders. He had his weapon, but I noticed he had to find stones.

There's a lot to say and think about this passage, like most Scripture. I find myself now thinking through each day, wondering what my five smooth stones are. I ask myself if I am on that path of obedience, am I confident in the outcome? Do I know where to find ammunition if I am called to battle? We all have giants to face; life can be challenging. New stresses often seem to pop up in droves, like a crowd of unwelcome vultures, pecking at us until we're mad.

But there's the promise, the one David was so sure of, that the battle's been decided. The promise wasn't that life would be perfect, or that he would never be asked to do anything hard. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed that action will be required on our part. And when it is, will you be able to find five smooth stones?


  1. Bravo for great writing and thinking, Jen!

    If you haven't already read this, you should check out The New Yorker article "How David beats Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell ( I found it SO fascinating, even though Gladwell doesn't exactly bring up the important elements of David's trust in God and God's power through David.

    What Gladwell is writing about is David's ability to surprise Goliath, by doing the last thing anyone was expecting. I think that relates to your post too, and could be a different way to think about the five smooth stones.

  2. Kristin, I enjoy Gladwell's way of thinking so I will be sure to click through. So, what you're saying is one way we can approach those "valley experiences" is to throw the unexpected at it. I like that idea...Thanks.