Bible stories can become so dearly familiar to us over time that we think we’ve grasped all they have to teach us. Yet the wonder of God’s Word is that if we’re open to be surprised and enlightened by it, we can discover new things when we read familiar passages, like David and Goliath’s story, encompassing the heroic actions of a king-in-waiting against an unassailable giant, while he was still an unknown shepherd boy.
“David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor and tried to walk, but he couldn’t, because he wasn’t used to wearing them. ‘I can’t fight with all this,’ he said to Saul. ‘I’m not used to it.’ So he took it all off. He took his shepherd’s stick and then picked up five smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. With his sling ready, he went out to meet Goliath.”
– 1 Samuel 17: 39-40 (GNT)
David grasped his stick and sling. He took hold of the familiar. He gathered his daily work gear and prepared for action. But then he paused, stooped to gather five smooth stones, deciding which to keep or reject.
Over time, stones become worn smooth by friction and by the action of continually flowing water washing over them. They’re polished by the tides, rather like we are when we face life’s storms and challenges and how we become honed in adversity’s fire.
I wonder if David chose those stones for their particular characteristics? Maybe in resisting the lure of the sturdy armour provided by Saul he had something else in mind. His defence was to be a divine one.
David readied himself for battle by recognising the all too human desire to look and feel mighty in the face of calamity and deliberately choosing to rely on holy help, instead of accepting the glittering resources others expected him to make good use of.
Although it seemed eminently sensible, and there was nothing intrinsically wrong with accepting the protection of armour, David was led to dismiss it so that God alone would receive the glory of the victory to come.
David greatly stretched his faith, by trusting implicitly that God would step in and provide for all his needs. He let fear take a backseat and placed himself, with his all too apparent insignificance and smallness into God’s capable hands. Maybe we can learn from this?
David communed with God on a regular basis each day. He saw parallels between his shepherding role and the way God tenderly cares for each one of us. He took time to pray, to know God’s will and experience His love firsthand. All of which gave him the ability to trust God to come through for him.
Those five stones might have symbolised five strongholds David wanted to literally sling in the enemy’s (Goliath’s) direction. They could have been:
1) the stone of pride
2) the stone of self-reliance
3) the stone of people-approval
4) the stone of fear
5) the stone of independence
They look horribly familiar to me. Can you recognise some of them too? They’ve intrinsic to our human nature and tend to weigh us down if left to their own devices.
God was David’s armour: his helmet, shield, cloak and covering. God alone would secure this victory in the face of great odds. God would take simple, humble, ordinary, familiar things—five stones and a leather sling—and render them extraordinary by His grace, just as He does for us.
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:14 (NIV)
We should never underestimate what God can do with a surrendered life. And how He uses the seemingly mundane things to bring about His purposes in this world.
“I love that you use the downtrodden to accomplish your great plans. You don’t seek after know-it-alls or celebrities or people who have it all together. You seek out those whose hearts are completely yours, who understand their weakness and dependence” – ‘Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year’ – Mary DeMuth
This gives us hope as we see our small lives in a different context. Because we’re apt to forget just how marvellous ordinary life and ordinary people like ourselves truly are and how very much we are loved by God.
When our lives are placed in the hands of our wondrous God, He takes, breaks and makes so much more out of the crumbs of our familiar daily existence than we can ever hope, dream or imagine. And that’s a hope that always stays fresh for us.
____Joy, for the Beloved Prodigal team___
**PS: If you’re unfamiliar with the David and Goliath story (or want to refresh your memory) you can read the full account here**