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by Joseph Perrello
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"Five Smooth Stones"
2005 by Josprel (Joseph Perrello)

Five Smooth Stones

The Apostle John recorded the indispensable difference between a true shepherd and a hireling (John 10:11-14) - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd . . ."

A good shepherd loves his sheep, but so does a wolf - only in another fashion. A wolf loves a meal of mutton; it considers such a meal delicious. So do lions, coyotes, bears, wild dogs, hyenas, and other predators. These all endanger the sheep and also the shepherd, without whose protection the flock has no chance of fending off the predators.

No one better human hero exemplifies a true shepherd then King David, who has been called, "The Shepherd King of Israel." The Prophet Samuel, whom God sent to David's hometown of Bethlehem, was commissioned by Him to anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse, David's father. Upon Samuel's arrival in Bethlehem, Jesse's eldest son, Eliab, was the first to appear before him. Apparently, Eliab looked like a king, for so impressed was the prophet with his appearance that he declared, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him!" (1st Samuel 16:6).

Nonetheless, Eliab's manly proportions did not impress God, who said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. One by one, David's seven brothers appeared before Samuel, but each was rejected, no doubt puzzling the prophet, for he asked Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these . . . Are all of the young men here?" (Verses 10-11).

"There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep," Jesse informed Samuel, who asked him to send for David and bring him in. When the shepherd arrived the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" Verse 12).

This account of David teaches three important lessons:

1. God calls busy people into His service: David was obediently tending his father's flocks when God sent Samuel to anoint him as king of Israel. Those who desire that God grant them responsible tasks must first be responsible to the tasks already before them, no matter how mundane they may seem. Sadly, many refuse the hidden, unglamorous tasks in a local church because they receive no public acclaim for doing them. David, however, was faithfully performing his task in a field. And, it was there from which he was called to receive the anointing as the king of Israel. God will grant no higher responsibility to one who is unfaithful to a lesser one.

2. God does not gauge a person by ordinary standards: God applies His own measure to assess if He may use a person for His glory: Apparently, all of David's brothers appeared more kinglike than he. Yes, he was "ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking," but so are many teenagers. These characteristics do not qualify one to be a king. However, because of his outward appearance, Eliab impressed Samuel as being kingly material, yet Eliab was one who cowered with the rest of Saul's army when Goliath, the Philistine warrior - some nine feet, eight inches in height - defied the Israelite warriors by challenging them to send someone to fight one-to-one with him. "He wore bronze armor that weighed about 125 pounds and a bronze helmet. His legs were also protected by bronze armor, and he carried a bronze javelin slung over his shoulder. His spear was a thick as the bar on a weaver's loom and its iron head weighed about fifteen pounds. A soldier walked in front of him carrying his shield" (1 Samuel 17: 4-7; Good News Bible; American Bible Society; New York).

3. God often uses those whom others consider unworthy for a task and, through them, achieves astounding victories for His name: Samuel recorded that Goliath "stood and cried out unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, 'Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine, and ye the servants of Saul? Choose you a man of you, and let him come down to me. (Literally: 'Why have you come out to line up for battle? I am also a Philistine and you are Saul's warriors. Choose one from among you to come down here and battle me.) If he be able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants (slaves); but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then ye shall be our slaves . . . I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together'" (1st Samuel 17:8-10). Eliab, who seemed so kinglike to Samuel, cowered before the giant with the rest of Saul's army, not daring to accept the challenge. It required the simple faith of the teenaged shepherd, David, who had tested his faith in God by killing lions and bears who dared to endanger his flock. He believed the God who had given him victory over the lions and bears would grant him victory over the blaspheming Goliath.

David answered Goliath, "You are coming against me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied. This very day the Lord will put you in my power; I will defeat you and cut off your head. And I will the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds and animals to eat. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a God, and everyone will see that The Lord does not need swords or spears to save His people. He is victorious in battle, and he will put you in our power" (! Samuel 17: 45-47; Good News Bible).

The young shepherd had picked five smooth stones from a stream; however, it required the use of only one stone and his faith in God to render him victorious. As he quickly ran toward the Goliath, he launched a stone with his sling. The stone struck his enemy in the only place unprotected by armor - his forehead, cracking his skull. "Goliath fell face downward on the ground" (v.49).

What a tremendous lesson for all of us. God frequently uses simple things to demonstrate His power. He often uses small things to defeat obstacles that the world considers insurmountable.

Gathering the smooth stones of confidence in God from His stream of assurance, as did the young shepherd, David, each believer ought to step forward into the Lord's will, in the knowledge that He ever is with us.

As an anonymous hymnist of yesteryear wrote:

"I've seen the lightning flashing,
And heard the thunder roll;
I've felt sin's breakers dashing,
Trying to conquer my soul;
I've heard the voice of my Savior,
Telling me still to fight on;
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone."

"No, never alone!
No, never alone!
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone!
No, never alone!
No, never alone!
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone."

(Hymn, "Never Alone"; Composer anonymous).


Josprel welcomes readers' comments on this article. He may be contacted at Josprel@localnet.com

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Member Comments
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Joyce Poet 14 Aug 2005
"...for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." I'm so thankful for that! Very well written article, Joe.


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