A Sharp Sword or a Smooth Stone?

“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 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” (1 Samuel 17:38-40).


Given the opportunity to tackle a fierce enemy, fully armoured and carrying a sharp sword or unprotected with only a few smooth stones, logic would demand the former. That is the way Saul saw it, but David viewed the situation through the eyes of faith. The Lord rarely uses the world’s methods to get His work done.  The church does not need the weapons of the world [drama, bingo, parties and entertainment] to slay its Goliaths, instead it needs to get back to relying upon the Holy Spirit’s power. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Saul’s Armour

There is no doubting that the king’s armour was of the best quality anywhere in Israel since he used it to protect himself in battle. The problem was that he was a large man, so the armour was cumbersome to David. David went through the ritual of being clothed in the various parts of the armour, but as soon as he began to walk he realised it was not going to work. He voiced what was in the minds of Saul and his men.

David’s armour

Instead of wearing the royal armour to face Goliath, David instead simply went out with a staff, a bag, a sling and five smooth stones. The sharp sword was useless to him, for he did not intend to get too close to the giant. He knew that he was fighting a spiritual battle; therefore he did not need physical weapons to help him to victory.

The politicised, militant churches, and other religious groups, have always thought that God’s Kingdom is built at the edge of a sword. The means they use always comes back to destroy them. “For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Instead “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4), for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

David’s plan B

David did not take anything or anyone with him, except for the items mentioned. He had no reserve once the stones had been fired. He had no plan B if plan A went wrong. This revealed the kind of faith he walked in, for to him there was no going back. It seems as though he had no doubt that he would utterly defeat the Philistine.

Why did David take five stones if he only really needed one? Some commentators suggest that it was a prophetic act on David’s part, for Goliath had four brothers who one day would be killed by David. “And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant. And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew 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 21:18-22).


If only we trusted God enough, then we would see great things being done. “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:21-22) … “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:22-24). David saw the result before he even went out against Goliath. It is only doubt that hinders glorious things happening for us. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7).