Gospel Lesson: One Smooth Stone
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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 17
"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 17:40)
Today's lesson really isn't so much about metaphor itself as it is an examination of what the rock in this story stands for. Some of us have heard the story of David and Goliath since we were young. David has recently (and secretly) been anointed King of Israel. Still tending his family's flocks, his father sends him to deliver food to his three older brothers who are soldiers in Israel's army, which is in battle against the Philistines.
In the middle of the battle, the Philistines send their champion, Goliath. Standing at "six cubits and one span" (or about 9 feet tall) and arrayed in elaborate armor, Goliath makes his way to the valley between the army camps to mock and defy the army of Israel. For 40 days, Goliath does this and for 40 days, the Israelite army leaves Goliath's words unanswered.
Dismayed and afraid, the Israelites resort to weighing their "options"... the riches they would receive if they killed Goliath, the potential of marrying the King's daughter, their father's house being made free. Their deliberation hints that they believed all those rewards were not enough to overcome their fear of facing Goliath. They were missing the point, and when David arrived on the scene, he recognized this.
"...What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26)
There was something David knew that everyone else had forgotten. They were a part of the army of God! They were God's people, chosen and blessed.
Taking his staff, sling, and shepherd's bag, David went by the brook and gathered five smooth stones. He took them as he ran to battle Goliath, using only one of the stones to slay the powerful enemy of Israel. Thinking naturally, how can a smooth stone take out a 9-foot man?
In spiritual retrospect, it's easy.
David confronted Goliath that day in the name of the Lord of hosts. This is what Saul and the soldiers failed to consider. What is a 9-foot man against a smooth stone chosen from the brook, slung from the sling of the recently chosen of God, anointed King of Israel? What is a 9-foot man against God?
It's easy to observe an obstacle, get intimidated, and fall into complacency as we consider the benefits we could receive if we make the effort to overcome the challenge. Stick us in complacency long enough, and we can forget who we are. We forget that the Lord of hosts is behind us. We forget what He has already brought us through. You see, that smooth stone David used was more than a piece of earth. It represented David's faith in and his testimony of the God of Israel, of what God had done and what He was about to do. It was smooth, lively.
We all have these stones. When used correctly, they conquer the biggest obstacles in our lives. Unfortunately, they can be used for the wrong reasons as well, and when this occurs, the stones are not typically that smooth. More on that next week...
Questions to think on:
- What Goliath-sized obstacle are you facing right now?
- Which of your actions show complacency, procrastination, or fear in the face of this obstacle?
- Which of your actions show your active faith that God is bigger than your problem?
Next week's reading: John 8:1-11
This lesson is part two of five.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.