He (David) took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. (1 Sam. 17:40)
My family recently visited the Cherokee National Forest to view the beautiful waterfall in Tellico Plains called Bald Creek Falls. Noted as one of the most scenic and impressive falls in eastern TN, it is also the most accessible. (You can get a great view and photography opportunity right from your car.) We decided to spend the day relaxing up the road along the Tellico River. Though the temperature outside was hot and humid, the river water was a chilling 60 degrees. (One of the reasons it is ideal for trout fish.) Needless to say, the stark contrast of the water and air temperature made this an ideal place to spend a hot summer afternoon.
As I sat on a large rock dangling my feet in the refreshing cold water, I took a survey of the thousands of smooth stones surrounding the riverbed. I bent down to examine stone after stone. Each had its own color, pattern, size, shape, and other unique characteristics. But nearly every single one had soft smooth edges. (Ideal for skipping, my husband and son would tell you.) Just gazing at the constant flow of the water or listening to its soothing rushing sound is enough to invoke feelings of relaxation and wonder. But dialing the lens in closer, looking at the seeming mundaneness of pebbles and stones, conjured up thoughts of another person that obviously enjoyed the brook, the young King David.
When faced with the threat of an enemy army and their champion giant, it wasn’t the king’s armor or sword that David chose to wield. No, this shepherd went with what he knew best, his trusty old sling shot. His choice of ammunition? Five smooth stones from the brook or river. Before we get into his choice of picking up five stones, let’s look at the Hebrew word used here for brook. It is different than the word for river used in Genesis 2:10, where I examined the The Rivers of Eden.
In Hebrew, the word is nachal spelled nun, chet, lamed. It is indeed a stream, brook, or river. But what struck me is its verbal root, also nachal, which means to inherit, to occupy, to bequeath, or to possess. In other words, David drew his ammo from the only trustworthy source: from the living waters of the promises of YHWH. David knew that Saul’s armor had not been tested, but there was One that had never failed David in the past. David took from the inheritance he had in YHWH Tz’vaot.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17: 45-47)
What made David so sure that he could defeat the giant, Goliath? After all, he was the youngest of his brothers and was much smaller in stature than King Saul. I believe it was because he knew who he was in the eyes of Elohim (God). Shepherding the flocks of his father Jesse had given him valuable experience in not only tending to the vulnerable, but also in defeating mighty beasts. And that’s exactly what David compared Goliath with, an uncircumcised beast.
David knew that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would always prevail over the nephesh/flesh of a beast whether that beast is an actual beast of the field, or if it is a man living in the beast’s image. David had already chosen to live after the image of Elohim (God). Those made in the image of God RULE over all creatures, great and small. Goliath was no exception and David had complete faith in this truth from the Word of YHWH.
Though the giant taunted Israel with threats for forty days, invoking great fear in the king and army of Israel, David could “see” beyond his natural sight. I believe this is figured not only in the source of his ammunition, but in the number of stones that he chose to wield.
In Hebrew, a stone or eben, is a contraction of the words father and son (av + ben). This is why a stone is not only strong, but a far worthier choice of ammo against the enemy. What is stronger than the Father and the Son? Nothing! If this is true, why did David choose five stones when it only took ONE stone to defeat the great giant?
I believe that YHWH loves metaphors and figurative language. Literary devices such as these are what give depth and dimension to any story, report, poem, song, dream, or vision by conveying multiple facets and angles in very little space. Thus, details matter greatly and can often reveal a sharp angle that is cut just so that the story sparkles only when it is held and turned slowly in the LIGHT. A less diligent examination would miss this beautiful twinkle and some of the story’s dimension.
Five is the number of strength and power as the fifth manifestation of the Holy Spirit. (Is. 11:2) This power is what fueled the first global migrations of the birds and fish created on the fifth day of creation. Just in case we missed this connection with creation and the number five, it says in 1 Sam. 17:48 that when Goliath went to meet David in battle, that David “ran quickly” to meet him. The word for ran (rutz) is the same root word used to describe the movement of the creatures created on day five. Quick flowing movement is a trademark of those filled with YHWH’s Spirit of Power.
For more symbolism found in the number five, please see my article: Hebrew Numbers 1-10. For now, consider that there are FIVE books of Moses or Torah. The Ten Commandments were written on two stone tablets, each with FIVE commands. FIVE is associated with grace, the gospel, and anointing.
Though it only took one smooth stone to defeat Goliath, David picked up five, a clear indication that the Torah (Word) is what defeats a beast. Our greater King David, the Messiah Yeshua, was likewise taunted (tempted) for forty days. Like David, He overcame the adversary with one smooth stone by quoting one of the FIVE books of Torah. (Deuteronomy, the fifth book) Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The hints of the number five are one example of many precious stones scattered throughout the Biblical text. When the Light hits them just right, our (spiritual) eyes see the connections that thread the entire Bible together in one seamless and flawless tapestry. The same story is told again and again in simple and progressively more detailed and varied ways. That story is the good news or the gospel.
So, Why Are the Stones “Smooth”?
The answer to this question came to me as I sat by the river examining the multitude of smooth stones and pebbles. If the Word is in us, we become the stones that cry out in triumph. We have become One with the Father and the Son. The constant washing of the water of the Word wears down all of our rough and crooked edges. Like the river stones, this is a slow process, a journey if you will, down the bumpy and twisted path of life.
Each impact, trial, and toss that the Living Water subjects us to, wears, carves, and sculpts us into the image of Elohim. The persistent and consistent rush of tiny water droplets beats things that offend off of us until we are as smooth as one of David’s five stones. (And the Word of God)
God chose the story of David and Goliath to be one of the first impressions we are given about King David. Why do you think this is so? Could it be that He wanted us to know how “a man after His own heart” defeated the beast without AND the beast within (nephesh/flesh)? We do see David battling both throughout his lifetime. One quality seems to stand out with David and it’s not perfection. He committed serious sin in his lifetime. But like the water, David was persistent and consistent to turn (repent) and let God continue the good work He began in David. As such, he became a “living stone” and a role model for us.
I think YHWH expects us to sit by a river and meditate on the smooth stones and the rushing water. This natural phenomenon has deep spiritual implications. The Father’s Light (water) is always trying to penetrate our thick skulls (and hearts). But like the hard rocks, we must yield to the soft water (of the Word). The will of God is evident: He desires for us to be the Living Stones in His House.
“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Peter 2:5)
I want to leave you with the following passage from the Book of Revelation. This section speaks about our future inheritance (nachal). Like David, we can draw from this truth right now when we have a giant to face. Life is hard and trying. If you find it easy, you might not be in the River getting worn and washed by the Word. Rejoice in your current battle, circumstances, and trials. Move fluidly and without fear as David did; for each step will only make you smoother in the New Jerusalem!
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:9-27)
 Strong’s number 5158.
 Strong’s number 5157.
 1 Sam. 17:34-37
 Gen. 1:26-28
 Forty is a time of completeness as a multiple of four. It especially marks a period of testing and trial. By the time David arrives on the scene, this period has reached its peak and David, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (4), is ready to move in strength and power (5) against this insolent head of a beast. For more on the symbolic meaning of numbers, see Hebrew Numbers 1-10 or Misparim.
 See Frank T. Seekins’ Hebrew Word Pictures under Aleph.
The Hebrew words “stone” (eben) and “son” (ben) were spoken by the Messiah in a play on words in Matthew 3:9, “And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones (eben) God is able to raise up children (ben) to Abraham.”
Luke 19:37-40 records Yeshua making another comparison to His people (ben) and stones (eben).
 Don’t let this reality cause you or those you love to despair. The wisdom of YHWH is all encompassing. The plain, simple, one-dimensional surface meaning of His Word is enough for the smallest child and any of us. The joy is that no matter our I.Q. or developmental stage, the Word is Alive! From the shallow pools to deepest depths, the nuances, patterns, analogies, symbolism, chiasms, numbers, and codes are in His Word for the unearthing. No matter who or where you are, the Word has just what you need and more. There is something for everyone, no matter your maturity level. I don’t know about you, but I find this most extraordinary and exhilarating!
 See notes in footnote 6.
 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)
 1 Sam. 13:14