‘Five smooth stones out of the brook’
1st Samuel Chapter 17 Verse 40
A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read this wonderful chapter of God’s Word. I was struck by David’s choice of 5 smooth stones instead of choosing Saul’s armour. It was a wise choice as David had not proved Saul’s armour, yet as a shepherd of the flock he had proved the usefulness of his sling no doubt on many occasions while caring for his sheep.
My thoughts strayed to the comparison journeys of the stones in the brook and the life of the Christian.
A day arrived when that which was attached to the mass of the world was set free. A rough, jagged stone being carried away from its original state down a straight, fast flowing and deep river.
Once saved by amazing grace the Christian finds himself being carried along in the early stages of this new life of wonder. The way is straight with no real obstacles, and banks of grace and mercy shadowing his every step.
The river will not always keep a straight line. It often widens, becoming shallower with many bends along some stretches. It is a shock to the system when the first collision occurs and the process of smoothing the rock begins. It starts to hit other, larger rocks and boulders, chipping away any sharp edges. The force of the flowing waters helps to maintain the process by smoothing the surface and allowing an onwards journey.
One of the first surprises or obstacles that many young Christians face in their walk is the fact that sin rears its ugly head, especially after a time of wonderful blessing and a real sense of freedom and forgiveness. ‘I thought that I would never sin again. I thought I was free from sin forever!’ Sooner or later the realisation that we are not perfect in this life hits home. True we know forgiveness of our repented sins, but the real battle begins as we try to conquer sin in our lives and experience.
There will be times of rest where the river becomes so wide and shallow that the stone can sit on the river bed for some time while the flowing waters continue to smooth its edges.
The exercised Christian will know times of rest and times of refreshing where the Word of God not only removes the sharp edges but also enhances the Christian’s walk with wisdom.
Trials will come along from time to time, each one seemingly more difficult than the previous one, but it is in and through these different trials that the Christian exercises the gifts that the Lord has given him, such as faith, hope and love. Each of these graces will lay hold on the Word of God, and God will prove His faithfulness to His children in such circumstances by allowing them to lean heavily upon certain promises that He alone can fulfil.
It is the Spirit of God who applies the promise to the needy soul as he reads the Scriptures daily. It is one thing to read a promise, while it is another to accept it as ours and to put it to use in our daily walk.
We may be the type of Christian who feels as though we can sort out our problems in our own strength and ability, but we will soon find out that our strength is drained. We reel and stagger like one drunk and it will not be long before we find ourselves at our wit’s end. Then we cry to God for help and He shows us once again the same promise He showed us at the beginning of our trial, but this time we wrap both arms around it and wholeheartedly accept it as a gift from God.
We may come face to face with a giant that blocks our path and darkens our horizon. These enormous trials may come upon us when we least expect them. The trials that come from the hand of God always hit us where they hurt the most.
A normal medical check-up ends in the doctor telling us that we have cancer or a similar life-threatening ailment. It may be a totally unexpected calamity within our family circle. How many have been struck down suddenly with heart attacks and strokes? Financial problems will seem insurmountable for many. Long-term unemployment can be especially hard to deal with and can place a huge strain on a marriage. Banks put customers under huge pressure to repay loans and debts. It is a horrible situation to be in when the monthly expenses far outweigh the monthly income. There can also be times when it is not just one of the above trials that may be present in our lives at any one time, but many!
Our giants come in all shapes and sizes, yet God measures each one for us, as we shall not be tried above that which we are able to bear. Listen to how David deals with the giant confronting him –‘Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel,’ That is wonderful faith in action, with David banking all his hope for success in the God of Israel.
The stone, after it’s long and sometimes painful journey, finally ends up at rest in the place and in the form that the Master desires. It is now fit for purpose, and in the hand of an expert with a sling, it fulfils its task.
It may be many a long day and night before the shards that have been chipped away from us (these sins we have been able to mortify through grace) and the various trials and testing’s we have come through, will make us fit for the Masters use. What better way to live our lives than to be willing to be shaped by our God in order that He may use us for His glory.