Five Smooth Stones in a Pouch
Faith that Aim’s High
Recently, I heard about a Christian physicist that has done a great deal of work with regard to creation and the Bible. I bought his booklet on the six days of creation and as I began to read it I was startled to realize that he was an “Old Earth Creationist”. So, what is an “Old Earth Creationist”? Basically, they believe that the days of creation, yowm which means a period of time, are not literal 24 hour days. This allows for them to reconcile the science, particularly geology, with the account of creation in Genesis.
As I read the account of creation in the booklet I noticed something very interesting. The writer took the position that after several days you could now tell the difference between night and day. However, from the very first day God expressed that you could tell the difference between night and day. God had Moses write in Genesis 1:5 “…and there was evening and there was morning, one day”. This was repeated for each of the subsequent days of creation, except for the seventh, where evening is specifically called out as `ereb or “dusk” and morning is called out as boqer or “dawn”.
The facts were clear. The writer of the booklet was trying to resolve the account of creation with the theory of evolution. Now, as we all know, the theory of evolution is the religious conundrum of the atheist. All of the evidence behind the theory of evolution is rooted in the scientific analysis of flawed, sinful, godless men who’s only perspective is locked within the time-space continuum of this current age rather than the eternal perspective of God. So the question is very simple. How can someone spend so much time and effort trying to prove that God’s Word really matches the theories produced by sinners and those who hate God?
The answer is a very simple one. Only one single word!
Hebrews 11:1-3,6 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the men of old gained approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. … 6And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
John 20:29 “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Faith dictates that we simply believe what God has told us through His Word and move on. Matter of fact, no thrills, no frills, no chills. Simple, uncomplicated trust in what God has said. Remember that ALL sin begins with questioning God’s Word.
David; King, Mighty Warrior, Lowly Shepherd
1 Samuel 13:9-14 “Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Confidence in the Flesh Begets Lack of Faith In God
The Lord chose Saul for a reason. God gave the people the king they wanted because they were looking at outward appearance. What were some characteristics of Saul?
According to 1 Samuel 9:2 “He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.” Saul was tall, dark and handsome. Theses are things at which the world looks first. However, many times this becomes problematic. When we rely on our own strength our faith is transferred from God to us. This is exactly what happened to Saul. Saul was not willing to wait on God so rather than resting in the confidence of trusting God’s Word, Saul acted in his own strength. This sin cost Saul the kingdom and ultimately his own life as well as the lives of his sons. By making the sacrifice at Gilgal, Saul demonstrated that he did not trust God. His faith was in his own strength and ability not in God’s faithfulness to carry out His word.
Look – Here Comes Opie
Now we have a situation where Saul has been rejected and God has directed Samuel to anoint a new King of His people Israel. The interesting thing in this process is that Samuel, while sensitive to the Lord’s word, still looked at things from the same perspective as the people of Israel did with Saul. He looked at the outward appearance!
1 Samuel 16:1-13 tells the story of David’s anointing as King. In verse 6- it says “When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””
Whack! Samuel, not the one buddy! Whoops! What were the characteristics of Eliab? “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him;” Wow, what an interesting parallel. Saul was tall, dark and handsome and God chose him so this Eliab fella must be the one because he is tall, dark and handsome. Now Samuel is right in tune with God’s will. He begins to look at what pleases God rather than looking at the outward appearance or the things that are pleasing to man. Samuel placed his trust in God. That is called “faith”.
Take-away number 1: Trusting in God’s Word alone is faith
1 Samuel 16:11-12 “And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here. So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”
The most interesting thing here is that Jesse did not consider David worthy of being counted among his sons. Even David’s own father was looking at outward appearance. His older sons were probably all tall, dark and handsome to one degree or another but David was different. Surely God would not choose one so different from the others?
What a contrast between David and Eliab. David was ruddy, ‘admoniy redhead – probably with freckles, had beautiful eyes, yapheh which means beautiful, and David was handsome. Note the difference between what Samuel noted about David versus what he noted about Saul.
- David was not tall, dark and handsome but a youthful redhead.
- David was not head-and-shoulders taller than everyone else but he had beautiful eyes.
There is a clear distinction between the way that man looks at things and the way that God Looks at things. Samuel gives us some clues in what God told him about Eliab and what God told Samuel He was looking for in a King. God does not look at the outward appearance but he looks at what is in the heart. Eliab was tall, dark and handsome but David was a cute little red-head. Is that all? Or is there another clue?
Samuel said; “Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance.“ The clue here is the fact that Samuel noticed David’s “beautiful eyes”. The eyes are symbolic of the heart. God was looking for someone who had a heart for Him and the first thing Samuel noticed was that David was not like the others and that his eyes had a kind of purity that let Samuel know right away this was the one God had chosen. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”
1 Corinthians 1:27 “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong”
God’s View Versus Man’s View
So, where did Samuel find David? David was in the field tending the sheep. Even David’s own father did not consider him worthy to be considered but, as it tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:27, God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. It says in Psalms 19:7 “…The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” So we have this cute little shepherd with a clear countenance and a pure heart whom God has chosen. We see that Samuel began to look at things differently because God opened his eyes to the fact that God looks at the heart.
Faith Sees Differently
1 Samuel 17:1-11 “Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. 3The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. 4Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. 6He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. 8He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9“If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” 10Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
The picture here is of Goliath standing in the valley between the Israelite army and Philistine army railing against Israel’s King and Israel. The fact that Saul was head-and-shoulders taller than the men of Israel meant nothing. Goliath was huge and all Israel was afraid of him. Notice though that Goliath called the Israelites “servants of Saul”.
Why was Saul and all Israel dismayed? Why was Saul and all Israel afraid? They could not comprehend what God was about to do. Why would God allow something like this to happen to us? Why would God allow these Philistines to continue to torment us?
The answer is very simple as so often in our own lives. Their faith was in their own strength rather than God. Remember Hebrews 11:1 “ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen”. Saul and the Israelites had placed their hope in the power of their army and God put them in a situation that forced them to realize they were not adequate in their own strength. Their hope of assurance was in the strength of their army and their conviction was what they could see in their own power. After all, Saul had led the Israelite army in victory over the Philistines before. But this was different. There was a game changer and his name was Goliath!
Giant or Uncircumcised Philistine
Jesse sends David with some food and refreshments to to battle for his brothers. It is estimated that David was between 12 and 15 years old when he went out to tend to his brother’s needs. David was following his fathers directions but he became involved because he saw things differently that Saul and all of Israel.
1 Samuel 17:23-26 “As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. 24When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
So Goliath comes up and begins taunting and deriding the Israelites and again the Israelites begin to shrink back in fear. They asked David if he had seen this before and David’s response was simply incredible. David asks “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?” It seems that in David’s mind Goliath was already dead. Then he challenges the faith of everyone around him by asking a question; “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
So David’s faith had nothing to do with size or strength. It had nothing to do with the number of warriors in the army. It had everything to do with something that no one else could see. Faith in God alone. He saw Goliath not as a giant but as an uncircumcised Philistine. David actually looked at killing Goliath as something that was easy for God and there is some much more than just Goliath.
Take-away number 2: Faith in God causes us to see things differently
Before we continue it would be appropriate to look at why God did not choose Eliab. When David said “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” Eliab, the big brother demonstrates, not only his lack of faith and his complete lack of respect for David, but he also denigrated his brother, who had been anointed King in the presence of Jesse and his sons. 1 Samuel 17:28 “Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.”
Enter the Neigh-Sayers
So many times we become discouraged by neigh-sayers. It is so easy to become discouraged when someone, who probably is not walking by the Spirit, proclaims something negative in our presence. Neigh-sayers can be easily recognized with statements like; “Yeah, like that’ll happen”, or “Good luck with that” and here is the best one “You don’t have what it takes to do that.” The latter is what Eliab told David.
But David was not discourage or dissuaded and he was taken to Saul where he proclaimed in 1 Samuel 17:32 “David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Then in verse 33 Saul displays his lack of faith and trust in God by saying “Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.”
David was probably thinking what is wrong with these guys? Don’t they know that God is in control? Don’t they recognize that God is Israel’s protector. No, they did not.
Take-away number 3: There will always be giants to challenge us and neigh-sayers that try to discourage us
Remembrance Builds Faith
1 Samuel 17:34-37 “But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
The Weapons of a Shepherd
- The first tool is the pouch or yalquwt which is a traveling pouch that the shepherd hung at his side.
- The next tool of a shepherd is the rod or shebet which the shepherd hung at his side or sheathed in a pouch attached to his cloak. The rod was an oak club generally made of a small oak tree that was uproot to expose the root ball.
- After the rod is the staff or mish`enah, a support or walking stick, was a multipurpose tool.
- The final tool is the sling or qela`. This was the long range weapon of the shepherd.
David begins to recount how God delivered him from the lion and the bear. It is likely that David used the sling and the shebet in these cases because he was able to rescue the lambs. The scenario probably went something like this;
The lion attacked the edge of the flock and snatched a lamb. David, probably already having some smooth stones in his pouch, would begin to run toward the lion while readying his sling with a stone from his pouch. He would then sling the rock stunning the lion and when he arrived would rescue the lamb. The lion, now beginning to collect it’s wits, would be furious and attack David. David, however, would have pouched his sling and readied his shebet and, having rescued the lamb, would grab the lion by the beard – whammo – right on the noggin.
The great thing here is that David attributed the deliverance from the lion and the bear to God. In David’s mind he did not need to be fearful because his trust was in God.
Take-away number 4: Remembering what God has done for us in the past builds our faith
Tested in Battle, Wise in Response
1 Samuel 17:38-39 “Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. 39David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.”
The next series of events is simply amazing. Saul still has no clue, no faith and I believe that his intention was to prove his point that David was not able to go fight the Philistine. David, still a youth, tried on the armor of a King that was at least six feet tall and made a brilliant observation. He said “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” This was a wise response born out of David’s faith that God would provide him everything he needed to defeat the Philistine warrior. At the same time it was a wise response that would not offend the King because the King himself would not go into battle with untested armor.
So David took those things he knew through experience had served him well against the lion and the bear. The most important thing is that David had the faith to trust that God was able to deliver the giant into his hands by God’s power.
Sling in Hand, Rocks in Pouch – Good to Go
1 Samuel 17:40-47 “He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. 41Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. 42When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. 43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” 45Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 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, 47and 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.”
So off David goes, staff and sling in hand, to meet Goliath but as he goes out he does something very interesting. He picks up five smooth stones from the brook and puts them in his trusty pouch. Now one would think that perhaps David figured he would need more than one rock to crack this big fella. We’ll see!
Now David begins to approach Goliath and Goliath is insulted that the Israelites sent a boy to do a man’s job. The giant disdained the boy saying, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” Now David was probably thinking, “Hmm, if you were a dog I wouldn’t have to kill ya big fella.” But instead David called on the Lord.
Remember, Goliath was fighting “the servants of Saul” but David was fighting “in the name of the Lord of hosts” (v45) and proclaiming that “the Lord does not deliver by sword or spear” (v46). David clearly declared that God does not deliver by the things which are seen but the things which are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Goliath had no idea what was about to happen.
Take-away number 5: God will provide everything we need for any task that He calls us to do
One Rock – One Kill
1 Samuel 17:48-51 “Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. 50Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. 51Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.”
So Goliath moved to meet David but David ran to meet Goliath and as he ran he reached in and grabbed one single rock, not two, not three, one single rock. He put it in the sling and slung it at Goliath. The rock sank into Goliath’s forehead and down he went. Now the interesting thing here is this; David prevailed over Goliath with a sling and a stone and then he struck Goliath and killed him. I believe that the shepherd boy, once again, got up close and personal to finish the job. David’s imagery of the encounter with the lion and the bear was up close and personal. If that imagery held true then David would have slug the rock that hits Goliath and Goliath goes down, stunned and confused, just like the lion or the bear. David reaches Goliath, as Goliath is beginning to regain his composure, just in time to take Goliath’s sword and I believe that David was looking the giant right in the eyes when he killed him. “Later dude!”
Four Stones Left – What Now
So now we reach the most interesting part of the story. We have all been in awe of the faith in God that David displayed taking on a giant. Depending on the historical account or that from the dead sea scrolls Goliath was at least 6’ 9” but could have been 9’ 9” tall. Either way, David was just a youth but he had the courage to trust God to kill the giant that stood before him.
David clearly planned to use only one rock to take care of Goliath so what, or perhaps I should say who, were the other four rocks put into the pouch? I read through the Bible every year and as I was reading one year I realized that Goliath was not the only giant that existed during David’s life. I began to study the giants of the time and came to a stark realization.
One Down – Four to Go
I realized that there were four more giants which caused me to simply stand in awe of God’s power to give us more faith than we need. The Bible never calls this out specifically but I believe that David, the lowly shepherd boy, went out there to kill all five giants. Here I thought that the faith to kill one giant was extraordinary but not David. His trust in God was so complete he was ready to take on all five giants of his time. Who were they; Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4), Lami (1 Chronicles 20:5), Ishbi-benob (2 Samuel 21:16), Saph (2 Samuel 21:18), and the unnamed giant from Gath with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (1 Chronicles 20:6).
Can you image those guys? David standing on Goliath’s carcass holding Goliaths head. Hey Lami, he’s looking at you man. No way Ishbi, he’s looking at you. No wait, he’s going for his pouch. I’ll bet you a dime to a donut that there was one giant-scatter at that point in time.
Saph; Hey Lami! Did you see that? Lami; Yeah man, look! He’s reaching back in that pouch and he’s look’n at you. Saph; No man, he’s look’n at you! Lami; Hey, where’s Ishbi and many-toes? Saph; On man, they beat’n feet! I’m outa here! What’s that stuff between the giants toes? Slow Philistines!
Take-away number 6: When we trust God He will give us more faith than we need
What does this mean for us?
The fact that a humble shepherd can become a giant killer by simply placing his trust in the Most High God should be an encouragement to all of us. While the Bible doesn’t say that the other four stones in the pouch were for the other giants the evidence that there were five giants alive during David’s time certainly makes that a possibility. If David had the faith to kill five giants or even one, we can take courage that God will provide us with the faith to walk, powerfully in faith, according to the Spirit on a daily basis.
Here are some takeaways:
1) Trusting in God’s Word alone is faith
2) Faith in God causes us to see things differently
3) There will always be giants to challenge us and neigh-sayers that try to discourage us
4) Remembering what God has done in the past builds our faith
5) God will provide everything we need for any task that He calls us to do
6) When we trust God He will give us more faith than we need
Remember in Hebrews 11:6 it tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith and that Hebrews 11:1-3,6 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
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