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Monday, April 15, 2013

Why five stones?

Have you ever tried to "fit into" some other person's image of you?  You know what I mean - someone says you should dress a little more like _____, you should wear a little more eye shadow, or perhaps you should trade in those comfortable "practical" shoes for those spikes of death!  They try to "remake" you because they figure you need an improvement on what it is you already have.  The problem is - you usually "fit" what you "have" pretty well!  Jeans and comfortable shoes are who you are - not frilly, painted, and stilted!  I think David kind of had one of those moments when Saul, the King of Israel, he planned to go out against Goliath with nothing more than his "shepherd" outfit.  As a matter of fact, scripture tells us King Saul "outfitted David as a soldier in armor".  The very next verse says David couldn't even walk in the stuff!  He could barely take a step forward, much less maneuver well in battle!  Sometimes this is how we feel when we are told to "outfit" ourselves with something other than who and what we are - for there is no freedom of movement when we aren't true to ourselves!

Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.  (I Samuel 17:40 MSG)

David had learned a great deal on the backside of the pasture lands as he tended the sheep.  In fact, he outlined a few of those accomplishments to King Saul.  They included slaying lions and bears - not for sport, but because they were trying to steal one of his sheep.  Isn't this exactly what is happening when Goliath stood there taunting Israel - he was "attacking" the sheep!  David knew if he was to face this giant with any chance at successfully defeating him, it would have to be by the methods he had used in the past - for those obstacles he had overcome became the foundation of his faith in this moment.

David had every weapon available to him then known to the armies of the day.  He could have asked the King to outfit him as he desired, but instead he chose his own "outfitting".  The shepherd's staff,  his familiar cloak belted closely around his waist, and his small leather pouch and the leather sling.  Seemed meagerly in the eyes of all who saw him approach the giant that day. Isn't this just the way it is when others see us face our giants with what it is God has made us familiar with?  They don't know the usefulness of the "tools" we have been given, nor do they know the "skill" required in their use.  No wonder they doubt their ability in the hands of one familiar with their use!

I wondered why David took five small stones that day from among those lining the floor of the tiny brook.  Why five?  Why not one?  After all, wasn't David a man of faith, operating under the anointing of God?  This may not be biblical or theologically sound, but allow me some latitude here, will you?  Think about what David may have been saying to himself and to us as he selected each and every one of those well-worn stones.  As he placed the first one, the second, the third - he may have been saying something like this:

Stone 1: F - Father, into your hands I commit my ways
Stone 2: A - All I have learned at your feet I commit to you today
Stone 3: I - Increase what your servant lacks
Stone 4: T - Thank you for always being faithful to your servant
Stone 5: H - Hold me close to your heart as I face this giant

He only needed one, but which one of these stones did he not need as he was preparing to face the giant?  He needed all five!  He had to place himself securely into the Father's hands, taking upon himself all he had previously been taught, calling upon the amazing power of God to make up for what he lacked, gratefully acknowledging the faithfulness of his protector, and knowing without a doubt the most secure place was within hearing distance of the heartbeat of God.

One stone felled the giant.  Five stones steadied the heart of the "warrior".  He was "outfitted" well.  Just sayin!