Cambridge, Dorchester County, Md.
by Pete Macinta
1 Samuel 17:40And 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.
The very first sermon I preached, in 1970 or 1971, was drawn from the true story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. As either a member of, or an adherent of Kearny Assembly of God my pastor, Jerry Bricker, asked me to preach a message before the men of Goodwill Missions in Newark, NJ. I was interrupted twice, nicely, by an alcoholic. I will save that story for another occasion.
On March 22, 1981, I preached a sermon titled Giant Killing, based on the above passage, at the former Assembly of God church in Triadelphia. At that time it had four points and I did not fully address the last phrase. I have preached that message again recently, adding a fifth point.
I am sure that there have been multitudes of Sunday Schools, Junior Churches, and other children's outreaches that have taught children about David and Goliath. Sometimes adults just breeze through reading that story without realizing that the entire 17th chapter of 1 Samuel is loaded with information on spiritual warfare.
In verse 40, we see five elements that were vital on that day of victory: The Staff, The Stones, The Storage, The Sling, and The Spirit.
The Staff- And he took his staff in his hand...
Staves or rods in God's Word often are symbolic of authority. Note that David's staff is the first thing mentioned in verse 49, and rightfully so. Christians must realize that from the time they are saved, authority for various purposes is granted to them, and should grow in authority. However, realize full well that often authority is given in proportion to authority obeyed. We should recognize that the primary authority in our lives, if we are truly Christian, is God.
The staff comes first in this passage, reminding us we must be saved and obeying God. No victory will be won unless we have authority and have been in submission to God's authority.
Note that it says David took his staff. He possessed his staff. As we can also see, he possessed authority from God and in God. So must we if we are going to battle against the unseen forces of darkness.
David knew his authority and so must we. When we are truly born again in Christ, we are kings and priests to God. Some translations say a kingdom of priests. Regardless, kings or kingdoms speak of ruling, while priest (s) speak/s of intercession.
Through the life of Christ within us, we should let the Spirit of Christ rule our body, soul, and spirit. If parents, we should have Godly rule over our household.
As priests, we should intercede, pray for, ourselves and others. We should pray for ourselves that we would walk as Christ would have us to walk. We can pray for other Christians and for the unsaved. We should pray for any we know of that are going through a difficult time in their life. However, in all this praying, we are to be directed by the Holy Spirit as to what to pray for and how to pray for it.
David initiated the usage of his authority. I still remember the first time I anointed the place where we lived with oil. Satan had attacked one of my sons. I was very angry about this and took action as I felt led of the Holy Spirit.
David grasped his authority. A rod or staff may not do much good unless you hang on to it. Therefore, we need to grasp our authority by not giving in to temptation and by digging into the Word of God.
You should be entering the very throne room of God on regular basis as a true Christian, by worship. Authority may be found at the throne of God through Christ.
The Stones- ...and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook,...
As I hear about these stones, I must think of the Word of God. As these were small stones, simple truths from the Word of God will cause us to triumph over the enemy.
He took five stones. For some reason I must think this means the full Word of God. To a degree, knowledge is power, which, by the way, has been deprived from generations past 1980. I'll explain more elsewhere, because I wish to stick to the spiritual facts that pertain to the passage we are discussing. As knowledge is power, the more of the Word of God that we know, the more power we have over sin, our sin nature, and satan (for personal reasons, I never capitalize the name of the enemy.)
They were smooth stones. Of course, that had to be, to cut down on win drag and insure an accurate trajectory. Therefore, the Word of God must be smooth in us - readied. We should be very familiar with Scriptures that address various needs.
Also, these were stones from a brook. Over the course of time the waters of the brook made the stones smooth. So, the flowing of the Holy Spirit in our lives makes the Word of God vibrant, life giving to us. We can pray on the basis of personally knowing the passages that apply to certain situations. Along with that thought, the trials that we go through help broaden and deepen our personal knowledge of a text.
Because the stones were smooth, as mentioned above, that would help insure their trajectory. Thus, the written Word of God, when coupled with the Spirit, is geared to strike its' mark.
These smooth stones represent the living Word, which may be viewed as Christ Himself in the written Word and made living in our hearts by the precious Holy Spirit. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, by the power of the Holy Spirit, reminds us that the Captain of our salvation was made complete as He obeyed the Father through the Holy Spirit. Because He obeyed, as He lives in us, we too can obey the Father.
The Storage- ...and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had,...
Scripture says, "Thy Word have I hid in mine that I might not sin against Thee." - Psalm 119:11 We must store the Word of God in our heart. The first step is to read it or have it read to us. Feel free to underline things in your Bible that touch you.
Memorize the Word. This is more easily done if you put verses you wish to memorize to some tune you know or create. Today, with computers, a Bible program, and a printer, we can print out portions of the Word of God to carry with us and memorize.
David placed those stones inside the bag. He did not want to lose one of them. So, we too must make the effort of storing away the word of God in our hearts.
Storing those stones in the bag also kept them hidden. Remember that Jesus said not to cast our pearls before swine. Deeper truths that we understand within the Word of God may not readily be accepted by others. Even simple commands a foreign to even those that are religious. Take, for example, anointing with oil. I have had a couple of people shy away from that at first.
As we store the Word, we should not flaunt it. That is what some Pharisees did when they increase the phylacteries on their heads. (Little storage boxes that held Scripture verses that some of those men had memorized.) Flaunting any aspect of our "spirituality" is pride - the very sin that caused satan (I never capitalize that word) to fall.
The Sling- ... and his sling was in his hand,...
To me, this speaks of faith. The faith must be that of Christ, and Christ alone. It must be IN Christ, and Christ alone, not in ourselves or others, not in religions and denominations.
It must be the true faith. The faith that clearly and boldly says that Christ is the only answer for man's need of salvation.
It should be pure faith, not tainted with philosophies of man. I always despise it when a Christian, or so-called Christian, tries to correct me without using the Word of God. It is one of the reasons I have ceased to be associated, at least at the time of this writing, from denominations. Men or women speaking from the counsel of God are rare. Many Christians have taken the path of King Jehosophat and allowed compromise to weaken their walk and stance.
If our faith is Christ, and in Christ alone, completely, then it is a powerful faith. In the NT, there are at least two Greek words used for the word "power". One entails action, the other speaks of authority. The sling here is power in action, and so must be our faith. Keep in mind, as you read this verse again, David had his sling in one hand, and apparently had his staff, which speaks of authority, in the other hand. Also keep in mind that the staff came first! True authority in Christ is foundational for the active demonstration of power in our Christian walk.
The sling was a proven weapon with David. Surely he had to practice time and again with a sling to be accurate. The same is true with our walk in Christ, and the exercise of faith in spiritual warfare. When it comes to spiritual warfare, our faith must be a sure faith.
The Spirit- ... and he drew near to the Philistine.
We must learn to permit ourselves to be directed by the Holy Spirit of God. This takes practice, which goes along nicely with the element of faith mentioned in the sling in the above section. A portion of our learning to walk in Christ and being active in spiritual warfare occurs by trial and error, which, putting it another way, spells experience.
In this passage we see that David drew nigh to the enemy. There will be times that the Holy Spirit will so direct us. There will also be times that He will tell us to retreat, stand still, or take clandestine action. I have done all three. Sometimes things just need to be eliminated. Think this is wrong? Was not Gideon told by God Himself to tear down his father's idol? Did not Jesus Himself turn over the tables of the moneychangers? Many ministers, ministries, churches, and denominations have helped to develop a generation of compromising "Christians", cowering under the teaching that we must obey every law of man, even if it is sinful and wrong. Keep in mind that John the apostle was sent to Patmos, not on vacation, but as punishment. Apparently he broke human law. Paul and others were imprisoned, tortured, and more, because their Christian influence was contrary to, and disturbed, the society they were in.
Jude 20 says, " But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost". Jesus also said "Watch and pray." In Christ we should walk in the Spirit and listen, sense, what we are to do and how to pray. At times, as we listen, the Holy Spirit will direct the very words we say when we pray. The Holy Spirit will also guide us in following the four other elements mentioned above.
The strongholds of satan will tumble as a true Christian operates in the authority that God has given to him, using the word of God properly cherished and propelled by the Holy Spirit.
Example of Application:
Sometime after 1999 my wife Dorcas and I were praying for a family couple where the husband was trying to get a divorce. Since God hates divorce (Malachi), full authority was present to pray against the legal proceedings that were coming up. While praying, we felt led of the Holy Spirit to pray that confusion would arise between the husband and his lawyer. It did. They did not get divorced, and family members are gradually permitting the healing of God amongst themselves!
Pastor Pete Macinta
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©1981, 2004 Peter Macinta
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Used by Cornerstone Assembly Cambridge MD by permission.