David’s decision to choose five smooth stones before facing Goliath has significant meaning that reveals his faith and trust in God. Here is an in-depth look at the possible reasons behind David’s selection of five stones:
1. David knew the battle belonged to the Lord
Though David was a young shepherd boy, he fully understood that the battle against Goliath was ultimately the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47). David did not trust in his own abilities but in God’s power and sovereignty. This mindset of total dependence on God was likely behind David’s choice to take five stones, instead of just one. David knew that the number of stones did not matter, because victory would come from the Lord.
2. The number five symbolizes God’s grace
In the Bible, certain numbers often carry symbolic significance. The number five can represent grace, mercy and God’s favor. David’s collection of five smooth stones prior to facing Goliath hints at his trust in God’s grace over him. Though David was small and inexperienced, he had faith that with God’s empowerment, he could defeat the battle-hardened giant. The five stones were a physical reminder that God’s loving grace was sufficient for the task at hand.
3. David was preparing for extended battle
Another possibility is that David wanted to be prepared for an extended confrontation with Goliath, so he readied multiple stones. As a shepherd, David was used to battling wild animals to protect his flock. He knew that even after striking the deadly blow, some beasts would keep attacking. Though David sought to make quick work of Goliath, he prudently prepared extra ammunition in case he needed more than one shot. This wise preparation displayed David’s balance of faith and common sense.
4. Five was the number of covenant mercy
In David’s day, covenants or formal agreements were often representative in the number five. For example, the Torah was comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament. As David picked up five smooth stones, he likely recognized the number’s symbolic connection to God’s merciful covenant with His people. David did not merely see himself as a shepherd boy facing a giant, but as part of God’s covenant nation, endowed with divine help. The five stones were a covenant reminder that God would show great mercy and remain faithful.
5. David was set on humbling Goliath and the Philistines
Another detail that may reveal David’s purpose behind five stones is how he cut off Goliath’s head after hitting him just once (1 Samuel 17:51). This humiliating display exposed the folly of Goliath’s prideful boasting and trusting in his own strength. As an experienced slinger, David likely could have killed Goliath immediately. His choice to gather multiple backup stones implies that he wanted to fully humble the giant and the watching Philistines. The extra rocks hint that David was willing to strike again and again until the arrogance of God’s enemies was completely shattered.
6. David aimed to glorify God’s name, not his own
Though David slew Goliath in dramatic fashion with a single stone, his preparation of multiple rocks showed that he ultimately sought to glorify God’s name, not his own reputation. David knew that granting the victory was the Lord’s prerogative, not his own. By readyig extra stones, David displayed humility and his intention to keep striking Goliath until God’s supremacy over the Philistine gods was undeniably proven. For David, his own fame was trivial compared to exalting the Lord’s name.
7. The stones were symbolic of David’s complete dependence
Another perspective is that the five smooth stones did not represent anything specific, but were simply meant to show David’s total reliance on divine help to defeat Goliath. By choosing multiple stones, David showed that he was not trusting in his skill as a slinger or any magical abilities of the rocks themselves. Rather, David fully understood that the only way he could prevail was if the Lord enabled him. The stones were merely useful tools, but true power to win the battle rested in God’s hands alone.
8. He was led by the Spirit to choose five stones
One final possibility worth considering is that David did not overthink the number of stones he selected. The Bible says he “chose five smooth stones” almost in passing, not as if it held great calculable meaning (1 Samuel 17:40). Perhaps David was simply led by the Spirit to prepare five handy rocks as provision for the fight. The Spirit of God often directs His servants subtly in small details that end up holding great significance. David’s sensitive spirit may have picked up on the Spirit’s quiet prompting to gather five stones, not fully realizing at the time how God would work through them.
In summary, David’s choice of five smooth stones reveals his shrewdness, humility, and complete dependence on God. This simple act provides great insight into how David viewed the battle and why he was able to courageously face the mighty Goliath with faith in God’s power to save.
Key Bible Passages About David and Goliath
To provide broader context about the story of David and Goliath, here are some key Bible passages that reveal more details about their historic confrontation:
1 Samuel 17:4-7 – Describes the intimidating physical appearance of Goliath, who was over 9 feet tall and wore heavy armor. His spearhead alone weighed 15 pounds!
1 Samuel 17:8-11 – Records Goliath’s arrogant boasting and his challenge for one Israelite soldier to fight him in single combat.
1 Samuel 17:12-16 – Introduces David as the youngest of eight sons of Jesse from Bethlehem. David split his time between shepherding duties and offering provisions to his three oldest brothers serving in Saul’s army.
1 Samuel 17:17-19 – Jesse sends David to check on his brothers and bring them food. This sets the stage for David’s presence in the camp when Goliath issues his challenge.
1 Samuel 17:20-30 – David arrives at the camp, hears Goliath’s continual taunting of Israel’s army, and starts asking about what reward there might be for any man brave enough to defeat the Philistine champion.
1 Samuel 17:31-39 – Saul tries to dissuade the young David from challenging mighty Goliath. But David explains how the Lord helped him slay lions and bears while shepherding. With God’s help, Goliath would be no different.
1 Samuel 17:40-47 – David declines armor and sword, choosing to face Goliath with his sling and five smooth stones. David declares that the Lord saves not with swords or spears, but by His own power.
1 Samuel 17:48-54 – David slays Goliath with a single stone striking his forehead. The Philistines flee in terror after witnessing their prized warrior killed by the unassuming shepherd boy.
1 Samuel 17:55-58 – Saul asks whose son David is after he returns from defeating Goliath. Their conversation reveals that Saul does not readily recognize David, even though David had previously served him as a musician.
2 Samuel 21:19 – Many years later, this verse casually mentions that David also killed Goliath’s brother Lahmi/Elhanan, though this battle is not described in detail.
The story of David and Goliath provides an outstanding example of courageous faith in the face of impossible odds. Though just a young shepherd, David fully trusted that the Lord could deliver him against the Philistine’s experienced warrior. David’s confidence rested not in weapons or physical strength, but in the knowledge that Almighty God fought on his side. The five smooth stones that David selected hint at his shrewd preparation blended with wholehearted reliance on the Lord’s sovereign power to save. This historic encounter between a humble shepherd boy and an arrogant giant testifies to God’s gracious covenant faithfulness towards His people.
Other Old Testament Examples of 5 as a Significant Number
In order to provide additional biblical context about how the number five often carried symbolic meaning, here are some other notable passages from the Old Testament where the number five has special prominence:
Genesis 43:34 – When Joseph hosted his brothers for a meal in Egypt, he gave Benjamin five times as much food as the others. This special treatment foreshadowed Benjamin’s greater portion of inheritance and Joseph’s favor on him.
Leviticus 26:8 – God promises that five of His people will be able to chase away 100 of their enemies. Once again, the number five conveys that God’s gracious favor leads to victory, not human strength.
2 Kings 6:17 – When Elisha’s servant feared the Aramean army surrounding them, Elisha prays that the Lord will open his eyes. Then Elisha’s servant sees the hills full of the Lord’s horses and chariots of fire.
Psalms 23:5 – David declares that the Lord prepares a table for him, anointing his head with oil, and causes his cup to overflow. The image of a bountiful table conveys God’s abundant blessing.
Isaiah 6:3 – In his vision, Isaiah hears the seraphs calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The threefold repetition of God’s supreme holiness is emphasized.
Jeremiah 52:21 – The bronze pillars that stood in front of Solomon’s temple were each 27 feet high and measured 18 feet around. The prominence of numbers that are multiples of 5 and 10 suggest the pillars’ monumental size.
Ezekiel 1:5-11 – In describing his vivid vision of God’s celestial chariot, Ezekiel repeatedly highlights dimensions with multiples of 5 and 10 – living creatures with 5 faces and 6 wings, wheels with rims full of eyes, and faces with human, lion, ox, and eagle features.
Through these examples, we see how numbers like five, ten, and multiples thereof frequently conveyed symbolic significance related to things like bountifulness, fulfillment, and the perfection of God’s actions. This background helps explain why David may have specifically chosen five polished stones as his provision from the Lord for the epic encounter with Goliath.
How David Serves as a Type of Christ
In many respects, David functions as a “type” of Christ in the Old Testament. Though far from perfect, aspects of David’s life foreshadow the coming messiah who would sit on his throne forever. Observing a few parallels between David and Jesus provides deeper insight into the spiritual meaning of David’s battle with Goliath:
– Humble Origins – As a shepherd boy from Bethlehem, David’s lowly background mirrored Christ’s later birth in a manger. The overlooked David points to the promised Messiah who would appear ordinary.
– Anointed by God – David was chosen and anointed by Samuel to one day be king over Israel. Jesus was uniquely anointed by the Holy Spirit and spoke of by the Father as His beloved Son.
– Faced Danger in Wilderness – Before battling Goliath, David said he had honed skills defending his flock against lions and bears, just as Christ was led to endure temptation in the wilderness before starting His ministry.
– Victorious Over Enemies – David’s triumph over the blasphemous Goliath parallels Jesus’ power to subjugate all His enemies, including Satan. Both conquer through divine enablement despite humble appearances.
– Heralded Kingship – David’s defeat of Goliath paved the way for him to be hailed as the rising king of Israel. Christ’s finished work secured His identity as rightful King to rule over God’s kingdom forevermore.
– Unrecognized by People – Though anointed as king, David was not initially recognized by Saul or others. Though Jesus is King of Kings, many in His day failed to acknowledge His regal identity and divine authority.
– Descendant Reigns Forever – God promised that David’s descendant would reign on his throne eternally. Jesus fulfilled this as the prophesied “son of David” whose kingdom shall never end.
Through David’s historic encounter with the defiant Philistine warrior, we see a living illustration of the true battle between God’s promised anointed King and the spiritual forces of darkness futilely striving to oppose His rightful reign. David foreshadowed the coming conquering Messiah who would fulfill all God’s covenant promises to His people. The five smooth stones hint at the gracious provision of the Lord towards those who trust wholly in His power and not their own.
David’s Reliance on God Throughout His Life
Although David’s courageous stand against Goliath was an early high point that demonstrated his faith in God, David continued to rely on the Lord throughout his tumultuous life. Here is an overview of some other key occasions where David leaned on God’s strength:
– As a fugitive on the run from Saul, David often hid in caves and wilderness outposts as he fled Saul’s murderous envy (1 Samuel 23). He penned many psalms crying out for God’s protection.
– After becoming king, David sought the Lord for guidance before battling Israel’s enemies like the Philistines and Moabites (2 Samuel 5, 8). The Lord paved the way for military victories.
– When David committed grievous sin with Bathsheba, he ultimately repented, throwing himself on God’s mercy. He acknowledged his total dependence on God’s forgiveness (Psalm 51).
– At the rebellion of Absalom, David was again forced to flee Jerusalem. He waited on God’s timing to restore him rather than taking matters into his own hands (2 Samuel 15-18).
– Nearing death, David charged his son Solomon to walk in God’s ways. He proclaimed there was no god like the Lord and praised Him for His covenant promises that were David’s only sure hope, even through life’s trials (1 Chronicles 28-29).
Clearly, the heart of courageous dependence that David displayed before facing Goliath endured throughout his tumultuous reign. Time after time, David leaned wholly on the Lord whether in hardship or success. His life stands as an outstanding example of resolute faith in God’s faithful covenant love and unwavering confidence in the Lord’s mighty hand of protection and deliverance.
Principles from David’s Life That Remain Relevant
As we reflect on key events in David’s life such as his stand against Goliath, several spiritual principles emerge that retain great relevance for believers in Christ:
– Full reliance on divine help inspires courage, no matter the odds or obstacles involved. With God’s strength, we can boldly take on challenges that seem overwhelming (Philippians 4:13).
– Victory comes when we operate out of the Lord’s provision, not manmade resources that seem strong in human terms (Zechariah 4:6).
– Faith requires actively stepping out in obedience to God’s promises, not just waiting passively or worrying (James 2:17-18).
– God calls us to honor and glorify His name, not seeking our own fame (1 Corinthians 10:31).
– Though we stumble and sin, the mercy and forgiveness of Christ restores us when we repent and return to Him (1 John 1:7-9).
– No matter our humble state, the Lord can work mightily through those fully yielded to Him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
– God sovereignly works out His covenant plan across generations, often through faithful followers who trust Him wholeheartedly (Hebrews 11:39-40).
May David’s resolute reliance on the Lord, even as a young shepherd facing insurmountable odds, inspire believers today to trust unwaveringly in God’s gracious strength. With the Lord’s help, no obstacle can ultimately impede the advance of His kingdom purpose and calling on our lives.