Why Did David Pick Up 5 Stones?

When the Odds are against you and the Enemy Towers over you, do you have the faith to rely on God to Deliver you. Can you count on God to give you the power to succeed. Though our numbers are small we can rely on the 5 Stones (Faith, Obedience, Service, Prayer, and The Power of the Holy Spirit to Intercede in our Lives) to Deliver Us from any challenge.

Here is a quick study to help you develop your 5 Stones.

Ask almost any Christian: “How did David defeat Goliath?”

Most will answer something like: “Because he had great faith in God.” This is the most common understanding of the story. Consider this campy cartoon, which suggests that David even refused to use Saul’s weapons because: “my faith is enough.”

The assumption is clear: David was an “underdog” who had no business challenging Goliath. We are to believe that David was just a small, weak shepherd boy who never stood a chance but for God’s intervention. Furthermore, we are to understand that this intervention was the inevitable reward for David — the reward for his strong belief that God would intervene. David believed strongly enough (whatever that means) that God would intervene, so God did.

Simple.

And yet, David picked up 5 stones (1 Samuel 17:40).

Why?

If his faith was so great, why pick up more than 1? In fact, why would he need a stone at all if “my faith is enough?”

This fact, that he picked up 5 stones, is a “tell” in the story. It shows us that the “David’s Faith” hypothesis should be discarded. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to like about the the “David’s Faith” interpretation—I held it myself for many years. And David’s faith did play a key role — which I will discuss below. But now I think the story tells us something completely different: God did not intervene. David was able to defeat Goliath because David had the right training, experience, and knowledge. It was David’s skills and abilities, which he learned on his own, that gave him the unexpected advantage over his enemy.

In other words, David was the favorite all along.

Goliath never stood a chance.

David tells us himself why he believes he can beat Goliath. The king (Saul), along with everyone else, doubted David. To assure them, David says:

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” 1 Samuel 17:34–36

David, even as a young man, points to his extensive experience conquering beasts that were far bigger and more ferocious than him. He even highlights some specific techniques that he favors. David knew what he was doing. He understood the challenge and he understood his abilities. He was confident. It was not his faith but his training and expertise that would allow him to take down the giant.

This is not a downplay of David’s faith. To the contrary, the story highlights his faith — but not in the way that the story has been traditionally told. You see, traditionally the story is told that David defeated Goliath because of his great faith, and that everyone else in the story did not have a faith strong enough to do so. But the correct telling of the story is that David challenged Goliath because of his faith (and ultimately defeated him because of his skill). That is, it was David’s faith that prompted him to fight Goliath to begin with.

This becomes clear when we see the self-centered ways all the other characters in the story interpret the Goliath situation:

Saul: “What does Goliath’s reign of terror say about me as king?
(1 Samuel 17:11, 25)

Eliab: “What does my little brother David’s willingness to fight say about my own courage?
(1 Samuel 17:28)

Goliath: “What does sending a boy to fight say about me?
(1 Samuel 17:43 — “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?”)

— now see David’s interpretation —

David: “What does Goliath’s threats say about God?
(1 Samuel 17:26 — “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”)

David had great faith in God. But just as important, he was faithful to God, which prompted him to confront the giant. But neither faith nor faithfulness led to his victory. Rather, it was his finely tuned skills, his elite ability, which bested Goliath.

Faith in God and faithfulness to God are, in my opinion, the most important things in life. But that is not all there is to life. The David story, I think, tells us that it is also good to develop skills and to master one’s abilities. To build real competence & confidence.

God may or may not be doing things through you. If he is, congratulations. But don’t stand around waiting for God to act, or for God to win your battles for you. The lesson in the David & Goliath story is this: engage life, and don’t stand around watching for what God might do—rather: Show God what you can do.