Stones of Faith – Why did David pick up 5 stones?

I was asked a question the other day by a dear person to my family’s heart concerning David. We know that this young child, perhaps early teens, had to have a great amount of faith when going against Goliath, but why did he pick up five stones instead of just the one?

We know the story:

Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40 NKJV)

As a matter of fact, David had so much faith that he actually ran towards Goliath,

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:48 NKJV)

But why five stones? Wouldn’t one have sufficed?

There is an old opinion that these were stones that came together in the sling, fitting neatly together perhaps, that would find themselves nearly as one lodged in the head of the giant.

My preference, however, is that David had foresight, that he knew enough about the enemy not to let family live. According the biblical account, Goliath and four giants besides him,

When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.” Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (2 Samuel 21:15-22 NKJV)

These four giants were relatives of Goliath, brothers in some understanding. David knew that the fight was not over with Goliath, but took those five stones, one for Goliath, and one for the remaining giants, out of faith that God would not just give him the battle, but the war.

You Might Also Like

7 Replies to “Stones of Faith – Why did David pick up 5 stones?”

  1. Very nice! Your insight reminds me of the essay, “The Battle Belongs to the Word: The Role of Theological Discourse in David’s Victory over Saul and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17,” (which gets at the question of Who’s victory does David say it really was – his or God’s?) in the brilliant volume, The Hermeneutics of Charity.

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.