Five Smooth Stones

June 18, 2021

There is an interesting tidbit in the Scripture passage of 1 Samuel 17:40. It states:

Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi (a brook or stream), and put them in his shepherd's bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

It is important here to reflect on the very real convention in Scripture of the use of symbols, symbolism, foreshadow and analogy in the rendering of biblical narration. The verse noted above speaks more in symbols than it does in its literal words. For instance, Saul equips David with Saul’s own armor to arm David in his contest with Goliath. However, David (the ancestor and a “foreshadow” of Christ) rejects Saul’s armor as simply unusable, and he chooses for himself a weapon that most “rational” people would label as totally useless. Not only would such be considered useless, most would rationally conclude that David’s chosen weapon would more than likely lead to his eventual defeat and death considering who and what he was going up against. And, that might be logically correct. However, the Word of God does not conform to human reason or logic. In fact, and as Paul taught the Corinthians, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14) Simply put, Man’s rationale is not God’s rationale; Man’s logic is not God’s logic.

David rejected Saul’s “natural” weapons for spiritual ones. David chose five smooth stones from a running brook with which to confront Goliath. Those five stones were not just mere stones. They were symbolic of something far greater. Consider this: The messiah (Jesus) is frequently referred to as the Rock of Israel. And, the messiah is also identified as the Living Word of God. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God - John 1:1.) In David’s day the Word of God was only known as the five books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.)  The symbolic message in the story of David and Goliath is this: Jesus (foreshadowed by David) confronts the world and the leader of this world, not with the weapons of this world, but with the Word of God, the five smooth stones of the Torah, a weapon definitely not of this world. (BTW, the five stones were made smooth by living (running) water, which itself is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and its irresistible power.) Moreover, David did not kill Goliath with that stone to his forehead. No! David simply sunk that stone into the forehead of Goliath. He sunk the Word of God into the mind of Goliath, so to speak, and dropped him then and there with his face to the ground -- as though in supplication to David (a type of Christ.) It wasn’t until Goliath was made powerless by the Word of God (buried within his mind) did David stand over Goliath and behead him with Goliath’s own sword! And, that act, itself, being another biblical symbol -- think John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and the many beheaded for the Word of God as depicted in Revelation 20:4.

And there are other symbols, too; symbols that tell a story that is often far and beyond greater than what is literally written. And, that is the point of this commentary. What one reads in the literal, biblical sense is often time not the actual intended message. The Holy Spirit dwells within the pages of Scripture to be sure, but He dwells behind the words and between the lines obvious to our eyes. But, it is as Jesus promised. The Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to teach us all things, will, in fact, reveal to us what millions before Pentecost 30AD could only dimly see and wonder about. And so with that, I encourage all to fervently pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our ears to the messages within the written Word of God. Let us all actively seek out and then claim, Eyes to See and Ears to Hear!

Mark Johnson

NSUMC Lay Leader