A stone’s throw away from powerful…
Sunday School story
The story has been told in Sunday Schools around the globe for years and years. Most people know what happened and whom the parties involved were. They know that there was a young shepherd boy and a giant soldier. They know that the shepherd boy was not afraid of his massive opponent even though others were. They know that he had a sling. They know that he hurled a stone at the giant, which hit him in the forehead knocking him to the ground. They know the boy’s name was David. They know that the giant’s name was Goliath.
The story is found in the Bible, in 1 Samuel, but I want to take a look at one particular verse and see what we can draw out of it.
1 Samuel 17:40
“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the STREAM, put them in the POUCH of his shepherd's bag and, with his SLING in his hand, approached the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:40
You will notice that I have highlighted three words in the verse. Each word relates to a location – the stream, the pouch and the sling. These are the locations in which stones could be found but each differs from the others.
Lets assume that we, as believers, are the stones. This is not at all a far-fetched idea because in 1 Peter 2:5 we are called “living stones” or “lively stones” as God’s people. However, in 1 Samuel 17:40, the stones in each location were different. David’s intention at the beginning of the verse was to equip himself to go out to face the Philistine Goliath. He knew the end result he wanted and he knew what he needed for that – a stone in his sling. I believe we can learn something about our own lives and purpose by looking at the journey of the stones in this verse. Let me show you what I mean by that.
The verse states that David chose five smooth stones from the stream. Some scholars believe that he chose five stones because he had to kill Goliath and his four brothers. The number of the stones is not the point I’m making here though. I am looking at the location of the stones – in the stream. I believe that the stream represents the church. We are all in one place (the Body) and we are all doing our own thing. We are hanging out in the riverbed, interacting with other stones as the current wills. Some of us are providing shelter for animals or insects. Some of us are causing the direction of the stream to change as we cause erosion of the riverbanks. Some of us are partially sticking out of the water so on one side we are dry and look like one thing, but on the under side we are wet like all the other stones in the stream.
Out of the vast collection of stones, David chooses five. He ultimately only needs one, but picture him bending down and selecting from the thousands available just five that he thinks will be suitable.
God has a job to do, so he selects five possible candidates from His body who He knows have the basic make up for the task at hand.
Then David places these five carefully selected stones into his pouch.
David’s pouch was worn at his waist and was quite small. It was usually used for carrying food supplies, but in this verse David drops all five stones into the pouch. Inside the confined space the five stones got moved around as David walked. They began to rub against one another. They made noise as they rubbed together.
When God calls us to do a job, He often will put us together on a team with other believers. I believe that one of the reasons why He does this is so that we learn to work together. God knows that as we work alongside other “stones” we will encounter issues. The rubbing together will cause friction. These times are there for us to grow.
As the five stones rubbed together any left over rough edges would get shaved off. The ugly parts would be dealt with. In the same way when we rub against other believers, God will use those times to smooth off our rough edges.
David knew from his experience with a sling that he needed a perfectly smooth stone – one that would fly straight. So he put his hand in the pouch and felt for the stone that was the smoothest of the five. His agile fingers grasped it and placed it in his sling.
God has a purpose for each one of us. That can be a life long purpose but oftentimes He is looking for a certain obedient believer to perform a certain mission. Quite often that is how He reaches the lost. He will select “five” believers from His “stream” and put them in a “pouch” of some description to prepare them for a particular encounter in the “sling”. You see, the sling is the front line. Once you are put in the sling, there is no more time to prepare. Once David selected the smoothest stone and put it in the sling, there was no more opportunity for the stone to get any smoother than it already was. It was crunch time.
When the time is right for God’s mission to be completed it is an honour to be God’s chosen stone that is put in His sling.
Many believers miss out on being used by God for a variety of reasons. They maybe are hiding in the bottom of the stream, content to just stay there. They aren’t even looking for a chance to make it to the pouch, let alone the sling. Others are too busy eroding the riverbanks of the church, causing the shape and appearance of His body to change. Others make it into the pouch but are not willing to work as part of the team – they want to go straight from the stream to the sling. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that.
God is a God of process. He is never as concerned about you standing on the summit as He is about what you learned on the journey there.
So where are you?
Are you wallowing in the stream?
Are you submitting to the pouch?
Or are you primed and ready in the sling for David to hurl you at the enemy?