Goliath has defied the armies of God. He marched into the valley repeatedly seeking just one man to come and fight with him. David arrives at the battle lines late as he brings a sack lunch for his brothers. He hears the words of Goliath and believes something must be done. King Saul tries to get him to wear his armor. David cannot fit into it, and he takes it off, opting only to pick up five smooth stones (1 Samuel 17:40).
The classic question is, “Why did he pick up five stones for one fight?”
There are several possible answers.
First, David knew it might take a few stones to bring the big boy down. Even though he had fought wild animals, he had never fought a giant. Who knew exactly how many stones it would take to do the job?
Second, maybe David knew that once he killed Goliath, there was no guarantee that the Philistines would not run out into the valley to fight. David needed to be prepared for whoever else ran out onto the battlefield. Take as many bullets as possible before you go to war.
Third, maybe that was all he could fit in his bag. Maybe David filled the bag, and five was all that could hold.
Fourth, some have speculated into numerology. Numbers in the Bible have significance. Five is considered the number of completeness. David, therefore, picked up enough stones to complete the job.
Finally, most people appeal to 2 Samuel 21:15-22. They recognize the fact that four other giants in Gath were related in some way to Goliath. It was possible that David knew of these other men, although the original passage does not indicate it. David then picked up enough stones to handle all five of the men.
Any of the explanations are valid, and it is entirely possible several of them are correct at the same time.
What catches me about this detail of the story is that David is prepared beyond what we might initially expect. He knows that even if the giant falls with one stone, the story is not over. There will be more battles to fight before peace is achieved.
One thing I notice in the life of many believers is that they think one battle will bring them peace. They say, “If my spouse just did this one thing, everything would be better.” They think, “If this one problem at work were to go away then all of my troubles will go away.” It is easy to think, “Just one smooth stone is all I need to make my life better.”
David was not naive. He knew that this was only his first confrontation in a series of many battles.
I wish I could tell you that if you do this one thing for God, everything will get better. My guess is that even when you defeat that giant, more struggle is coming.
The harsh reality is the flip side of this story. We can bury our heads in the sand and try to avoid the struggle, but Goliath is not going away. The best way to find peace in your life is to grab a handful of stones and run toward the battle. The first fight may not solve everything, but it is a step in the right direction.
Go now and fight the good fight … and then fight it again and again until peace is secured.