One Out of Five

1 Samuel 17:38-50

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

Blue Jays! Blue Jays! Yes, I am celebrating with my fellow Torontonians over the Jays’ incredible feat of triumph over the Texas Rangers by winning the last 3 of a 5-game series being down 2-0 at the start. Now, that’s a good set of numbers to go by!

But if you simply heard “one out of five”, you’d probably think that’s a bad statistic, right? In sports for example, it could mean that the team only won one out of the five competitions they participated in. But in David’s historic and heroic encounter with the gargantuan of a man, Goliath, “one out of five” was a startling show of faith – it took just one stone [out of five] to bring down the giant.

I have read this story so many times in the Bible, but it was only recently that I started to think of why David decided to get five stones to prepare his assault against Goliath. My first obvious thought of course is that David was probably thinking that it may take him several attempts to put down his adversary. Was he acting in faith? If he truly trusted in God, then shouldn’t he just picked up one stone knowing that God will give him victory through one strike?

When I entertained such a thought, I quickly dismissed it. David exhibited that true, valiant faith is neither careless nor arrogant. His first step of faith was not in the choice of the five stones. His first real step of faith was trusting in God to face the challenge even though the odds were stacked up against him. Everything else from that point on was mere preparation and practicality.

Many Christians may feel that being practical is outside of demonstrating faith in God. I would argue that practicality is very much part of our faith in God. When David picked up five stones to arm his sling, I’d like to believe that he believed that it will ONLY take five stones to defeat his opponent. He already came into the battle expecting victory – a faith that tells us that whether he chose five, ten, or twenty stones was irrelevant in this story. The real significance is that David decided to face the giant with God in his heart. For David, God was enough.

There was a whole lot of man in Goliath, but it was no match for a whole lot of God in David.

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