Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
FIVE SMOOTH STONES
It was a cool clear morning. The beginning of a day of high adventure. And great danger. War clouds were in the air. Battle lines were forming. It was a day when a man could either die in action or become a hero. But not for David. He awoke to the same old boring thing--sheep. Boy his life was dull. The same thing every day. Lead the sheep to grass, and then to water, and then to grass, and then to the pen. And then get up and do the same thing the next day. And the sheep he had were not just slow, they were dumb. Real dumb. There had been times of excitement in the past. He remembered the day that the lion attacked the sheep and the time the bear came at the flock. Now that was excitement! But today, the only ones in his family facing any excitement were his three oldest brothers. They were in the army and they were in battle with the Philistines. How nice it would be to trade places with them -- or even find out what was happening at the battlefront. That was another problem with his life right now. Being bored was bad enough. But knowing that his brothers might be in danger and not being able to do anything about it was worse. It had been about 40 days that his brothers had been gone now and he did not know how they were or how the war was going. Fortunately for David, he wasn't the only one who was wondering. His dad wanted to know how his three oldest boys were doing. So David got his big break from boredom. Lets turn to 1 Sam 17:20- 24. Read. This Goliath was not your usual soldier. Not even your usual big soldier. Chpt. 17 tells us that he was 6 1/2 cubits tall, which, translated into American means 11 feet tall. His body was built more for football than basketball because we are told that the armor that he wore on his chest and stomach weighed 110 pounds. I assume that if it slowed him down, he wouldn't wear it. I suppose that most of you have seen the olympic shotput. (Describe shotput.) Well, the head of the spear that he carried weighed only 3 pounds less than the shotput ball. If I had been David, I would have decided that I had all the excitement that I needed and would exit back to my sheep. (And even the occassional lion and bear.) How many times have you been telling an exciting story, or telling a joke, and half way through the listener announces that he or she have heard it before? My friends this is an exciting story. But I know that each and every one of you have heard it before. Even my kids have heard about this story (and they don't know about World War II.) The end of this story is that David kills Goliath, saves the country, becomes a hero, and he gets the girl. (I'll bet you didn't know the part about getting the girl. You can confirm that by reading the next chpt.) As I say, its a great story with a great ending. The kind that I like. But as much as I like the ending, which you already know about, I like the middle better. I'll bet that you don't remember that part very well -- and that is what we will talk about that this morning. Turn with me to v. 40. David has just rejected the traditional way a soldier would protect himself, and has embarked upon his preparation for battle. Read. Five smooth stones. Actually, one was all he needed, but he had five. Those five smooth stones are symbolic of David's preparation for victory. His preparation for overcoming the most outrageous odds. I believe that they are symbolic of the reasons why David gained the victory over the forces of evil. For those of you with a Goliath in your life, or for those who dream of doing great things for God, this story is for you. If you were fighting someone approximately twice your height, and you had the chance to select a stone, what kind would you choose? My personal favorite would be the nastiest, most jagged rock I could find. Preferably something with a big point on it. Right? But that is not what David chose or used. And in that we have our first two lessons. Tell me, why is it that when you reach into a fast stream that all the rocks are smooth? They get smooth by having all the pointed parts ground off by the water and the other rocks. Sometimes in life we have things that we don't like very much. We get rubbed the wrong way and we think that we are getting ground into the dirt. Getting rid of our rough spots is sometimes rough on us. But a smooth stone was what it took to get the job done. Ellen White comments that the dull sheepherding job that I told you about was a smoothing process for David. "As Moses was trained for his work, so the Lord was fitting the son of Jesse to become the guide of His chosen people. In his watchcare for his flocks, he was gaining an appreciation of the care that the Great Shepherd has for the sheep of His pasture." Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 644. Sometimes what we are doing is boring. Sometimes our task may be under our ability. We could do a more important job. Sometimes we get treated a little rough by life. But these things make for a smooth stone. And that is what you want to be if you are going to be able to do anything for the Lord. Remember I started out saying that my natural instinct would be to chose a pointed rock? How would that rock, a pointed rock fly? It seems that it has only been in the last several years that it has been popular to take a circle and draw a smiley face on it. You know what I mean, the little stick drawing with the words "Have a nice day." Long before anyone else ever even thought of this I was regularly putting smiley faces on circles. I did it when I played golf. If you don't hit the golf ball in the right place, it leaves a curved cut place on the face of the ball. And I had the happiest set of golf balls that you could imagine. They all had smiles. That taught me some basic lessons about aerodynamics. Golf balls with big cuts on the surface don't fly nearly as well or as straight as perfectly smooth golf balls. From this I know that if you put a pointed rock in a sling and threw it, it would fly all over--not fly straight to the target. When David chose an instrument to accomplish the Lord's will, he chose something that would hit only the target--it would not fly all over the place. I think that this is an important point in attacking the problems in your life. Do not create unnecessary trouble. David and Moses are two larger than life heroes of the Old Testament. In Exodus 5 we find Moses approaching Pharoah to release the Isrealites from slavery. There were a lot of things that Moses could have theoretically discussed with Pharoah--but he kept narrowly to the topic, he didn't fly all over like a pointed rock. He simply told Pharoah that he was to let the people go. That is the second point. Smooth stones fly straight. How many times at work or in the church have you heard someone complain about a specific problem. Before you know it, the original problem is almost forgotten because now the issue has turned to a debate over personalities and who has insulted whom. Smooth stones fly straight to the target. They do not create unnecessary trouble. Turn with me to 1 Samuel 17:26-28. In these verses are the 3rd and 4th smooth stones. Read. How would you like a brother like Eliab? A real encouraging guy, right? Look at what he insinuates about David: With whom leave? (Irresponsible.) Few sheep? (Low value. Job in life unimportant.) Conceited and wicked heart. (Needs no interpretation.) How many of you could withstand criticism like that? You want to do or are doing some job in the church and what do people say to you? You are irresponsible. You are unimportant. You are doing it for self glory. Hopefully this is pretty rare in the church. Perhaps this is what you face at work when you try to do the right thing. The natural thing for David to do would be to throw the insult back. Or better yet say, "You know big brother, you are right. Think I'll be heading back to my few sheep and I'll let you contend with that 11 foot guy without me." David neither returned the insult or gave up. He let the insult roll off his back. Insults do not stick to a smooth stone. We see the attitude of David's big brother. What is David's attitude about this whole thing? Look again at v.26b. Now lets look at verses 36-37 and 45-48. Read. How would you characterize David's attitude? I see this as the best of David's smooth stones. The man is outraged over the insult to the honor of his Lord. Quite frankly, not only do I NOT see anything like this today, I don't even hear any talk about it. This is football season, and those of you who know something about the sport know that a fooball team is really at least two teams. There is the offensive team and the defensive team. The defensive team can keep you from losing, but with rare exceptions it cannot actually win the game. It is the offensive team that makes the points that win the game. Our attitude towards problems is purely defensive. We encourage others not to be discouraged over difficulties. We talk about not losing faith. We make our timid request that the lord will set things straight and make them right. We act like we are in a "holding action." Where is our offensive team? Where is the conviction that the Lord is being mocked, and "by God", we are going to do something about it? I'm not talking about personal insults here, that is the furthest from my mind. I'm talking about an attitude that says, as David did in v.26, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?" We see this same attitude in vv. 45-47. Read. There is a second side to this attitude stone that I want you to consider. Did you notice the different way in which David talked about the Goliath problem as opposed to the other Isrealite soldiers? Look at v.25, Goliath has just shouted his defiant challenge, David has heard it and the others have run away. These soldiers say, "The King with give wealth to the man who kills him." (Whoever that will be -- but not me!) David on the other hand is talking about what he will do. The text seems to imply that. If you read between the lines, it is very clear. Clear enough that David's big brother accuses him of being conceited and says that he really came only to watch and not do anything.(So quit talking like you are going to do something.) In v. 32 the text is explicit about this concept of David taking personal responsibility to set things right. Read. David took personal responsibility for vindicating the Lord. Being personally responsible for our own actions and for what needs to be done is very important. Good ol' Phil Donahue. Boy am I glad he is off the air! Ever listen to the gospel according to Donahue? No one is ever personally responsible for his sin. The vilest, most perverse behavior is the responsibility of some poor old lady who is the mother of the pervert. Or, to my utter amazement, I hear that I am responsible for this character: you know, society is at fault. Anybody other than the sinner is responsible for the sin. That is not David's attitude here. The honor of his Lord is at stake and he will take personal responsibility to change this situation. Our 5th stone turns out to be no stone at all. Let me explain. Do you really think that David could have defeated Goliath? Maybe. But the odds would have been at least a million to one. Certainly those odds would never have supported the arrogant statements that David made that I just read to you. Certainly the smooth stones did not do it. David could have dredged that stream dry of smooth stones and they never would have caused him to win over Goliath. The 5th smooth "stone" is David's absolute reliance on the Lord. Do you see what I mean? David was an expert with the sling. David was outraged at the insult to the Lord. But he never thought that his skill with the sling or the fact that he had a smooth stone would give him the victory. In v. 42 Goliath accuses David of coming at him with a stick. But David tells him in v. 45 forget the stick, he comes against Goliath in the name of the Lord. The battle, all of it, was the Lords. David's attitude was that I rest in Him. David and his smooth stones were only the instruments that God used for God's victory. Did you ever wonder why Jesus did not choose the smartest, best read, religious leaders of the day to be his disciples? Ever wonder why the New Testament just overflows with warnings about being rich and powerful? I'll tell you why. The smart man trusts to his intelligence. The educated man trusts to his education. The rich man trusts to his wealth. And a great shot with the sling trusts to his aim. But not David. David and his smooth stones were only the instruments that God used for God's victory. Lose sight of that and you lose the key to the victory. The smooth stones that I have told you about today will not give you the victory. They are merely the instruments for victory. They are what God uses in your hands. You need to have them in your hands to be used. You need to know them so that you will not lose faith and will know the landmarks. --when you go through the smoothing process-not to lose faith. -- when you are unnecessarily flying around insulting others, you are not being used by God. --when you are criticized for a good work, do not let go of God. --when you have an attitude that is jealous for the honor of God, He is going to carry you through. No doubt about it. Jesus not only carried David through on the day when he fought Goliath, Jesus makes clear His love for the devotion of David. In the last chapt of the last book of the Bible, Jesus says that He is coming soon. So that we will know him He identifies Himself. He says in Revelation 22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." He also says, v. 16, "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright Morning Star." Pray that like David, with his five smooth stones, that Christ will claim you as His relative when He comes again!