Many theologians have argued why David chose five stones, when it only took one to kill Goliath. Some say that it was because of little faith. Others believe that he was merely being pragmatic. I believe that when something, when said in scripture, has great significance. There is significance in every word which is written!
Let's look closely at the scene. The army of God is fighting the army of Dagon. The former are the Israelites and the latter are the Philistines. In those days the battle was more than about who is stronger, but the winner validates whose god is the mightier. Of course Dagon has no power since he is a false god, but the power of the Almighty God is unleashed with faith leading to obedience. Fortunately God had made a Covenant with Abraham and the fulfillment of that promise was at hand!
If the battle is lost, God has voided his Covenant. If it is won, then David, whose destiny is to be king, will have all the land promised to Abraham, which indeed eventually came about. This was no mere battle over land. It was indeed a show of power for the Almighty God! In essence it's God fighting the battle with David as his instrument. Therefore, keep in mind while reading the following scripture that it's not David who has the power:
1 Samuel 17:38 "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. 39 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. 40 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. 45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee... 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David."Goliath represents evil. Each day for forty days he threatened the Israelites. Of course they fought, but his threats were to tempt them into surrendering. It's Satan threatening God for forty days, and is symbolic of Satan's tempting of Jesus in the desert for forty days. Then Goliath is a "type of Satan" and David is a "type of Jesus". As we find out later Jesus' is often referred to as "the son of David", not only for his genealogy, but for his prodigy!
Saul then dressed this young man in armor. David was protected all over with coat of mail, had upon his head an helmet of brass, and was given a sword. David in his youth was fleet of foot. David was ready to go to battle and was fully dressed as a soldier of God.
Did David need this armor? Apparently not, for he removed it! David showed great faith, the same faith Abraham showed when he trusted God enough to deliver his only son!
At some point in time David had the Holy Spirit because of his faith in God. Perhaps it was when he was alone tending sheep. We don't know exactly when, but at the time of battle David was not alone in front of Goliath for he wrote later on:
Psalm 51:11 "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me."This passage was written as an apology to God; in contrition after he sinned greatly! Hence, prior to that David was endowed with the Spirit of God. It may have been from birth because God ordained David to be king of the Jews years earlier as part of the Covenant with Abraham.
But you say "The Holy Spirit didn't come until after Jesus ascended!" (See my commentary at link: SPIRIT VS GHOST). Briefly, "Holy Spirit" is the essence of God. "Holy Ghost" is that portion of God's Holy Spirit which was with Jesus on the cross. Hence, as Jesus ascended, the Holy Ghost, HIS SPIRIT descended! Therefore, David did not have the Holy Ghost since Jesus had yet to die, but he was imbued with God's Holy Spirit! David wasn't alone in the face of Goliath and Goliath was not alone in the face of David. Principalities were in the army of the Philistines because of their idol Dagon, and God himself was there in Spirit with David. It was truly a battle of the gods!
It is possible for David to lose because the Israelites had sinned many times! However, remember God's grace. He knows how hard it is to obey and he stood there with David regardless! The Hebrews DESERVED to die, but God offered them hope back there in Abraham's time. Right now the Israelites are faced with extinction They were about to die. The time from Abraham to David was symbolic of life itself. They had run the race! Would they now have faith to win the prize (Canaanland, symbolic of paradise)? They had faith to put David out there as the living sacrifice. Ironically, he wasn't the first born son of David, but in God's eyes because of his faith, he was firstborn! We know that because he inherited the throne from his Father in heaven! Again, David is a "type of Christ" and his blood was willing to die for God!
David removed his armor. That was the turning point in the battle. He threw off himself and turned things over to God. He won the battle with God. It was faith which saved him! Not only him, but all his household (people) as well! This battle is a parallel to Jesus' death on the cross. It was there that Jesus defeated all the Goliaths who ever lived or ever will live. He took the Goliath of sin on his own shoulders and saved us all! In the parallel, David defeated sin for the Israelites! Goliath carried all the sins of the Philistines and David defeated him! Even today "Strongholds" are Goliaths which stand taller than all sins, and must be turned over to God to smite them!
In order to kill our Goliath's it takes great faith. We must turn them over to God. When David took off the armor, he turned his Goliath over to God. When we slay our Goliath we must do the same!
Let's look at how we defeat our Goliath:
Ephesians 6:9 "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."Goliath threatened every day for forty days! Paul tells us how to "forebear threatening" (Ephesians 6:9). It's to put on the "whole armor of God" (verse 11). God had no regard to the size of Goliath. He was just another warrior. In verse 9 above he says that God is no respecter of persons! David and Goliath were equal in stature standing together facing God! Goliath was pared down from nine-feet to the same stature as David because he stood on Holy Ground, in the presence of God!
Goliath represented "spiritual wickedness" (verse 12) because the Philistines worshiped Dagon, the chief fertility god of their people. Their god was a whore. Fornicating with other gods is always symbolic of wickedness! Hence, the battle of the Hebrew peopleias symbolic of our own fight with Goliath:
Ephesians 6:12 "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."Dagon and the army of the Philistines were these "powers and principalities". We fight the same army which David fought if you think about it! We must fight in the same manner. We must quit fighting evil ourselves, take off those things which impede us (coats of mail, helmet of brass and heavy weapons), and put on the whole armor of God just as David did! Did you notice? All this extra stuff only weighted David down. The things of the world only burdened him. Now that David was freed to get stones from the brook and run back and face Goliath, he was agile to sling that stone. In other words when the burdens were removed he was swift on his feet! That is the same outcome when one puts of the whole armor of God without the extra baggage! David's feet were shod with the Gospel of Peace!
Who was the Gospel of Peace? With Paul it was Jesus Christ! With David it was The Word of God; the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Messiah! Jesus' Ghost was not there, but he was there in Spirit! David's feet became swift because of his faith. David knew about Jesus because the Word guided his life! David became a soldier of the cross before dying by death on the cross was ever practiced in Israel!
As David took off Saul's armor he sacrificed himself to God. He presented himself a "living sacrifice" because that would be the outcome if was not for God! When he stood there in the face of evil, he turned his life over to God. With great faith, he then put on "the whole armor of God"!
What was the armor which David put on?
- The girdle of truth
- The breastplate of righteousness
- The shield of faith
- The helmet of salvation
- The sword of the Spirit
You may have noticed that there was a sixth thing mentioned: It wasn't armor. It was "preparation" David prepared for battle. He put his faith in God in action. He calmly used the staff of God and a sling to hurl the things of God at his Goliath! Then David picked up "five smooth stones", but only used one!
"Stones" represent Jesus who was "the cornerstone". The church was built on that stone (Jesus). When David prepared he gathered those stones. His preparation was to gain "peace" by the "gospel". That Gospel was faith in Jesus Christ whose Spirit was there alongside of him as it had been when fighting bears and saving the sheep!
The "five smooth stones" were the "whole armor of God" specified as truth, righteousness, faith, salvation and The Word of God (the sword of the Spirit). That armor was the five stones which David selected. He put on God's whole armor (five stones), but only used one! Why is that? The one smooth stone was the Sword. David still had the whole armor, but he only needed the sword to defeat sin! That Sword is The Word, Jesus Christ! That's in whom David's faith rested!
Note that David had the shield of faith, but Goliath never had a chance to throw his spear (darts of Satan)! His girdle of truth was there, because his God is truth. He was the instrument of truth and fighting for God! David's heart was right. That was his breastplate. Of course his faith shielded him and he was "saved" as he presented himself as the sacrifice for the honor of God. Those stones represented the armor David had on his body!
One stone killed his Goliath (his Sword, The Word). He had on the rest of the armor (the other four stones). Hence, David did use all five stones. Even the one smooth stone was of the Spirit because God guided that one stone and killed David's Goliath.
He did that for David and Paul tells us that those same five stones can kill our Goliath! Now you know why he picked five and used one! He didn't. In reality he threw off the armor of Saul (faith in man) and put on "the whole armor of God"! He used all five stones!