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Bible Q

Why did David pick up five stones when he faced Goliath (1Sam. 17:40)?

This is another of those interesting things in the Bible for which we aren’t given a reason, so we can take an informed guess. One of the best suggestions is that David took five stones, one for Goliath, and one for each of Goliath’s infamous relatives: Ishbi-benob, Saph, Goliath and someone identified as ‘a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number’ (2Sam. 21:15-22). These were all, like Goliath, ‘descended from the giants’.

These enemies of Israel weren’t killed until later in David’s life (see 2Sam. 21), but it shows David’s courage and, more especially, his trust in God (1Sam. 17:37) that he was prepare to confront not only Goliath, but also Goliath’s relatives. We are encouraged by this to have the same trust in God to confront all the difficulties we — and other of God’s people — face in life.

Another, less attractive, possibility is that David took five stones in case he missed a few times. A lesson we could learn from this is that, although God will bring victory for his people, the battle might be long, with ups and downs.

7 Replies to “Why did David pick up five stones when he faced Goliath (1Sam. 17:40)?”

  1. I like the possible explanation of the 5 stones for 5 giants but it does raise the questions that David knew of the brothers and if he did then what about the other giants. Why not stones for them too.
    I am inclined to look back to when David looked after the sheep. He would have a pouch to carry his stones and presumably more than one stone – no doubt he would always have his pouch full (maybe 5 stones). When he went to battle Goliath I assume he would go as ready as when he fought bears or lions.

    • But according to 1 Samuel 17:40 David specifically chose “5 rounded stones”, so it wasn’t a random thing, he puporsed it.

    • It may have been because Goliath was the “instigator” the one who was the loudest of all and the one who actually had confidence in thinking he could beat just about anyone because he was bigger than most and he had the “crew” the “clique” who were build like him as well to back him up. Just like often times today we have large gangs, crews, etc, and they all seem to have a leader or head. And no matter how “large” in number they may be, hit it in the right place and it will fall.

  2. 5, a number which often represent grace or the sacrifice of Christ, (his five wounds, two in the feet, two in the hands and one in the side) the five stones at this point in time conquered goliath. this could be a type of christ david representing Him, and Goliath representing Satan (or sin).

    • I like your explaination of the 5 stones which I agre represent grace and sacrifce from a spirituial perspective. So, when he utilized the one stone or one thought that pierced the forehead of the giant obstacle, FEAR, he had 4 stones left which represent order.

  3. Because although David trusted in God, David also knew that to take on any challenge in life–even with God’s help–he needed to be as well prepared as he could be. So he did his homework. He studied Goliath and his ways. He learned what he could about the Philistines and their methods. And he discovered something crucial to his decision to picking up five smooth stones, instead of only one.

    Goliath had brothers–four of them (2 Samuel 21.19-22). David knew there could well be the possibility that when he killed Goliath that his four brothers might try to extract revenge. So David prepared himself: he picked up five stones, one for each of the Philistian brothers.

    According to the account, David trusted in God to do what God could do. But he didn’t just leave it all up to God. David did what David could do to insure his own competence in the face of a challenge. David picked up five stones because he’d done his homework and he was prepared.

  4. I would offer, based upon the text, that David had no
    knowledge of Goliath or his brothers.  The scripture clearly states
    David’s declarative question, “Who” is this uncircumcised Philistine?

    Nothing in the text would substantiate David’s awareness of Goliath’s linage at
    this stage in David’s life.  Nothing in the
    text indicates that David did any study of Goliath, but rather went to the
    stream, placed 5 smooth stones in his Shepard’s pouch and went prepared to
    be used as God’s instrument in the death of this person casting insults at Israel; the
    army of The Living God! 

    A similar event happened with the 5 wise virgins and the 5 foolish virgins in a New Testament story.  One group came prepared and the other came 1/2 prepared.  In the end this last group was completely UN-prepared, or not prepared at all.  David teaches us what preparedness looks like in his battle with this uncircumcised Philistine. 

    The indication, without a lot of mental gymnastics, is that David knew the battle belonged to his God; went prepared to do battle with others as well as Goliath.  There is absolutely no indication from the text that David was fearful of missing God’s mark, i.e. Goliath’s forehead.  David’s statements of war were born of belief –>faith, Goliath’s statements of war were borne of arrogance, his incentives coming from his own incredible strength and size.

    God loves to “stack the deck” so incredibly high against the odds that we come away understanding only God’s hand could saved the day.  Which is exactly what David was verbalizing and demonstrating; which is exactly what David expressed from his own “history” with more than one bear and more than one lion.  David trusted / believed / obeyed The Living God of Israel – YAWH

    David’s ONLY concern was to PROVE today, “The Living God in Israel” is present in this battle and WILL carry the day! 
    David is putting God’s Name on the Line.  First with his brothers and
    those standing by, 2nd with Saul,
    3rd with Goliath, 4th with Israel,
    and 5th with the Philistine army. 

    YHWY intends David to prove that He is in Israel’s camp.

    There appears to be no doubt in David’s mind that God would have success in
    removing this scourge form the battle, through the use of David’s skill and courage.  As the text indicates David is
    running toward Goliath as he places his stone in the sling and throws his
    projectile toward the target. 

    One does not run while using a sling unless he has complete confidence in his
    capacity and complete confidence in his God, who will this day give Goliath’s
    head into David’s hand.

    It is interesting to note that Goliath falls forward rather than backward.  Not dissimilar to the wall of Jericho, which fell outwards.   Thus providing David with the opportunity to remove Goliath’s sword from its sheath which was most likely worn on his back.  This gives David full advantage of striking Goliath at the back of his neck completely severing his head from his body.  Another requiter that The Living God who is with Israel is supernaturally intending this event. 

    One is made to wonder where the shield bearer who was standing in front of Goliath disappeared to???  One would think, “here is a young man with nothing but his sling surly I can use my own sword and defeat him.  Interesting, that.

    It seems plausible that the number 5 may have some spiritual significance and I
    like your critical thinking.  More study would need to be done on my part
    to have a discernible understanding. 
    Thus I’m not in a position to respond intelligently about your thought
    provoking statements.