GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
There was an old Lay’s commercial that challenged, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” The implied message was that their potato chips were so good that eating just one was impossible. You had to have more.
Apart from potato chips, David understood the wisdom that one is not enough. We remember how the young shepherd-king responded to the boastful challenge of Goliath: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26) And then, refusing all conventional weaponry, he “chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook.” (verse 40) With these and sling in hand, he advanced on Goliath for a battle to the death.
One wonders why David
chose five stones.
Obviously, for some reason he considered that one was not enough. But why? Could it have been that David was not sure of his aim and therefore armed himself with a clip of stones for his single-shot weapon? Not likely, since David had perfected his aim against lion and bear, and probably figured he’d have one shot only before Goliath was upon him. Was it because his ammunition was weak, not being of the hollow-point variety which could have done maximum damage? No, David was confident in the knock-out energy of his one loaded stone bullet, and in the power of God, for he had told Saul,
“The Lord . . . will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (verse 37) Why then five stones?
Consider this possibility: David took five stones because he knew Goliath had friends—huge friends. 2 Samuel 21 reports how David’s men later killed four giant Philistine warriors. One was possibly a brother of Goliath. The other three might have been relatives. Perhaps this was why David took five stones, in readiness to face the other four giants if they had attacked him after Goliath’s ignominious death.
Are we likewise prepared, always carrying five stones in our spiritual ammo pouch? St. Paul, writing centuries later and with the terminology of the weaponry of his day, instructed the Ephesians to suit up with the whole armor of God, including the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the combat boots of the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6: 13-17). David carried a sling and five stones. St. Paul urged each Christian warrior to be spiritually armored up with multiple weapons of defense and offense.
Why? Because one is not enough.
David faced one Philistine that day, but was prepared to face more. David’s greater Son, our Lord Jesus Himself, used multiple slashes with the sword of the Spirit to beat back the repeated temptations of Satan and other enemy attacks. Despite being heel-bruised, the Lord gave mortal wounds to Satan, sin, and death with His redeeming death on the cross and justifying resurrection from the grave.
Thus Luther, in his great Reformation hymn (TLH 262) could write of the devil that “one little word can fell him.” But he, too, knew that this world’s prince is not alone; relatives he has, “devils all the world should fill.” Multiple stones are needed. St. Paul explained the necessity, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6: 12)
Are you prepared for the fight against these Goliaths? It starts by having the “Valiant One, whom God Himself elected,” fighting for us. “Jesus Christ it is . . . He holds the field forever,” delivering us from the hand of all our enemies. Second, be fully armored for all situations. In terms of the weaponry of our day, suit up with at least five smooth stones: combat boots and full body armor, a combat knife and lethal sidearm. And don’t forget the assault rifle of the Spirit—the Word of God. In our deadly spiritual fight against our Goliaths, one stone is not enough!
David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.