Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
1Samuel 17:40 (NKJV)
It was now forty days that the Philistine giant ensnared the troops of Israel after having launched his challenge (1Samuel 17:16), without obtaining an answer. Too tall and chunky for anyone to challenge him. And like a clock that strikes the same time twice a day, Goliath came out of the camp morning and evening to remember his proposal and to insult the enemy hosts, without hesitating to offend God too. The men of Israel, including the king, were taken by great fear. No one dared to think of challenging him, despite Saul's promised reward. But there are challenges that don't require muscles and weapons, just as the solution can come unexpectedly and in the most unthinkable form. A young shepherd boy comes to the battlefield to bring supplies to his older brothers just as the giant comes down again to make his voice heard. Those words reach David's heart, wound his faith and offend his dignity as an Israelite. How to remain still and indifferent? Impossible!
After presenting himself to the king to communicate his candidacy and having experienced the embarrassment of wearing his uniform, David puts down the king's sword and only takes up his shepherd's staff. Whatever the challenge, never cover up with someone else's clothes. The believer is called to always be what he is, by the grace of God, not to trust in the strength and power of men, but to entrust himself to the Spirit and to the strength of the Lord. Without any hesitation, the youngest of Jesse's sons makes his way to the battlefield. In addition to the cane, a sling is at his side. A stream that passes right there offers him his only resource. Only in the valley of our life can we find the flow of living water of the Spirit. David bends down, dips his hand and picks up five smooth stones for combat. Nothing more than five like the five fingers of one hand. I like to think of my life as one of those stones collected by the Good Shepherd and placed in his pocket, to be used at the right time. God wants to take you and put you in his bag with others who want to win against the giants of the present generation. In the stream it happens that the current smoothes the stones. When you are in the bag with the other stones you experience a more intense smoothing. In the bag, the smoothing action no longer comes from a soft flow, but from the rubbing of the stones against each other. It will certainly cause suffering.
One of the peculiarities of this challenge is that if only one stone will be used. In David's story, we will discover that there will be five giants to be killed (2 Samuel 21: 15-22; 1 Chronicles 20: 4-8). Each of them represents one of our limitations. Goliat is the giant of pride, the first we have to face. His name means "splendor" and represents the human pride that stands. Isbi-Benob is the second giant, whose name means "to linger in Nob", and is a symbol of laziness, which makes one unable to make important decisions. The third is the giant of neglect. The name Saf means "high", while the name, Sippai, reported in the book of Chronicles, means "the threshold", which in biblical language recalls the idea of custody, vigilance, protection. This giant causes us to leave the threshold of our heart unattended, so that the world can enter it freely. The fourth giant, namesake of the warrior defeated by David, is the brother of Goliath. Chronicles reports the name Lahmi which means "my bread" and represents the food with which the world would like to nourish our soul, and consequently the famine, the destitution into which we can fall. Finally, the fifth is the giant of carnality: the man with six fingers on each hand and foot. The number six represents human imperfection, therefore the carnality that clouds the mind and heart of the believer.
Even today, God is looking for a smooth stone that fits perfectly in his hands. Do not mind that we are trivial pebbles eroded by water, trampled on by many. It is not up to us to show ourselves strong, because as for Paul his grace is sufficient, his power is fully manifested in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9). With the courage of David, with the certainty that every stone thrown will go to the target, we do not hesitate to face our giant, whatever it is. And when he is out of our range of competence, we will let the hand of the Lord hold us.
Weekly Bible Reading
Plan # 16
April 12, 1 Samuel 19-21; Luke 11:29-54
April 13 1 Samuel 22-24; Luke 12:1-31
April 14, 1 Samuel 25-26; Luke 12:32-59
April 15, 1 Samuel 27-29; Luke 13:1-22
April 16, 1 Samuel 30-31; Luke 13:23-35
April 17, 2 Samuel 1-2; Luke 14:1-24
April 18, 2 Samuel 3-5; Luke 14:25-35
Foto di tijmen van dobbenburgh, www.freeimages.com