In the story of David versus Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 there is a portion of the story that readers of this passage have puzzled over for centuries. In verse 40 of that passage it says, “Then he [David] took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.” It has been suggested by some over the years that David selected the extra stones to use for Goliath’s sons and brothers. The reason I think many have come to this conclusion is that after Goliath he would have four stones left, and the Bible mentions three sons and a brother of Goliath in other passages. I have always found this rationale lacking for a number of reasons.
First, there is no reason to automatically assume that David knew Goliath had any supersized siblings or progeny. Second, we aren’t given any indication that those relations were even present at the time of David’s duel with Goliath. Third, David did not kill any of the four relations of Goliath that are mentioned in the Old Testament. This conclusion has always seemed a little far-fetched to me, particularly since it isn’t something the writer of Samuel felt the need to articulate.
Much more likely to me, particularly after my ride to school this morning with the three-year-old ballerina, is that David knew that when you go into battle you load up on ammunition and are prepared to keep firing away. Let me explain. The entire family has been quarantined the past few days dealing with the “not-flu flu.” A nasty little virus that can look, act, and feel a lot like the flu, but is not in fact the flu. Today was the first time that any of us ventured out of the house since Saturday for something other than a doctor’s appointment which 4 out of 5 of us have had this week. Our hoeshold has had been nothing but a loud chorus of coughs by people making ever-increasing mounds of used Kleenex until they have the energy to move again.
Knowing this, when the ballerina said to me on the way to school, “I need a tissue,” I had to take action before needing a tissue turned into a full-blown incident. I looked in the console and found several Starbucks napkins. The dilemma that I faced was that I was driving, and my lovely daughter with the snot issue was in the back of our minivan. We were already running late so there wasn't really time to stop. There was just one solution to the situation that I could see. I quickly began wadding up napkins and firing them to the back of the van until one hit the target. My accuracy was nothing like that of David, but at least I hit the target before I ran out of ammunition. Just like that the runny nose situation was averted.
This philosophy makes much more sense to me about what David was doing with the five smooth stones. He was just preparing for all contingencies. If the situation required multiple shots he was ready.
O, and to my wife who is reading this, this explains the napkins all over the van.