And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
Every since I’ve heard the story of David and Goliath I have wondered why David took five smooth stones out of the brook. I’ve also heard many people give their reasons for this. Maybe it was a lack of faith in that he thought he may miss four times before hitting his mark. Maybe it serves as an example that we should be “equipped” regardless of the level of our faith. Some have suggested that Goliath had 4 brothers and David was preparing to take all of them out. Finally, I’ve heard in charismatic circles that the five stones could have represented the “five fold ministry” of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. The problem with each of these suggestions is that they are really just a guess.
Now, I can’t claim that I have a definite answer to this age old question. But what I can claim is that I noticed something today in the Word of God that could possibly give an explanation to “why five stones.” Prior to the famous David and Goliath incident, Israel warred with the Philistines. Israel, in trying to “conjure up” a victory, decided without instruction from God, to go get the ark of the covenant to “help them out.” (I Sam. 4:3) As expected, this man inspired idea did not work and the ark of God was captured by the Philistines. Apparently the Philistines did not learn the lesson that the Israelites had been taught of God. They placed the ark of God into their own pagan temple thinking that its presence would bring them good fortune. However, the opposite effect was had. Not only did their idol god, Dagon, continue to fall on its face before the ark, the Philistines were stricken with severe hemorrhoids on account of them keeping the ark in their possession. (I Sam. 5) In chapter 6, the Philistines had had enough. They were preparing to send the ark back to its rightful owner. Their pagan priests suggested that they send it back with a trespass offering of five golden emerods (hemorrhoids) and five golden mice. We see in verse 17:
And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
What caught my eye was Gath. Gath is where Goliath was from. (I Sam. 17:4) So, could it be that David suspected there may be a giant for each of the five Philistine cities that had been plagued by God over the issue with the ark? Yes, this is still a guess. However, I base this guess on preceding scripture. After all, shouldn’t we always turn to scripture to interpret scripture?