In First Samuel and according to King James we read in chapter 17 and verse 40 these words:
“And 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.”
“What in the world does this have to do with requesting a critique?” You may be asking. I was hoping you would, because I have an answer.
When I ask for a critique, that’s exactly what I mean! I am literally asking that you criticize my writing. I want you to intentionally irritate me! I’m giving you the liberty to judge, condemn and ridicule my words.
“Don, have you lost your mind?” The puzzled look on your face frames your confusion wonderfully. Why would anyone ask for such a thing and what does that have to do with this verse in First Samuel?
Although much can be said as to why David “took his staff in his hand” and doubtless it could be applied to our discussion today, I really want to forego that portion for now and really focus our attention on the phrase that he “chose him FIVE SMOOTH STONES out of the brook” instead.
Now, this is how I see it.
As writers we owe it to one another to “knock the rough edges” off of each other. Right? You are free to disagree; I don’t slight any one for having a wrong opinion.
First of all, notice that the scripture is careful to say that David took 5 stones. The significance of that comes from learning that the number 5 is symbolic. It is the number of “grace.”
David did not, contrary to popular opinion, take five stones because Goliath had four brothers. Well, that is not the primary reason. The primary reason for his subsequent victory (and ours) is GRACE. I’ll not list the verses that speak clearly about why grace is, well, gracious; I’m sure a multitude of verses have just offered themselves to you for your consideration any way.
I’ll simply say that apart from His grace we are as good as dead. All of us know by now that living up to Gods’ standards of holiness and perfection are beyond our reach; which is why He lives within us and He does the work. (All of you who wish to take me to task on this point are free to do so, just not right now.)
Why does it say that the stones were “smooth?” We’ve not far to look for the answer to that question and this may surprise you, but you already know it. Remember when you were young? This may be a bit too much for some of us. The days of my youth are long gone and my initial Native American hair is yielding. Suffice it to say that I no longer look Indian, thanks to my hair I am taking on the appearance of a skunk.
Any way, why “smooth?” Because, when we were kids and as fortune would have it, we’d found a lake or a pond that sat like a mirror before us and we were thrilled. Old men, like me, now avail themselves of such a scene for quiet reflection. But, there was a day when such a site would beckon me, no, dare me to find that perfect stone to “skip” across its face.
Now you get it, don’t you? Smooth stones fly further!
Remember when you couldn’t find that smooth stone? And you’d find the next best thing and even though it was more like a box than a rock, you’d throw your shoulder out of its socket trying to get at least one good “skip” for your efforts?
Smooth stones fly further and we older saints know that. We also have learned that you aren’t going to get any better “skip” than you do with grace.
All of us know that we are “stones.” Paul’s first letter to Peter tells us that. Read it with me. I’ll use the New King James for this one;
First Peter 2:5-6
“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
So, we see that by “grace you are saved” and that accounts for the number 5 in our verse. Also, we see that we are “stones” and that we are (still) being built up a spiritual house and so it goes.
Also, notice that David took these stones from a brook. We know from scripture that a reference to “water” is symbolic for the Word. Remember? “the washing of the water of THE WORD.” Yeah, that’s the one.
But, what other picture can be drawn from that word “smooth” and what does that have to do with a critique?
All of us “stones” are saved by grace (5) and we are in the Word (the brook), but if you’re like me, you’re anything but smooth.
Smooth stones become smooth by staying in the water and those rough edges are knocked off by the other stones nearest to it. The stones do NOT do the work; the movement of the water does that. So too, with those of us that are “in the Word” and have found ourselves closer to each other and we have the folks at Faith Writers to thank for that.
Smooth stones fly further and until the “smoothness” that can be seen in us by our "greater than David" is "there", well, the giants in our land have a good chance of being relatively safe.
So, when I ask for a critique, that’s exactly what I am hoping for. Okay?
I appreciate the comments of encouragement, they’re wonderful, but they are not always what I need. I’m not “smooth” and I need you other “stones” to stay in the Word, the water, with me and knock those rough edges off.
Also, I need to say this, or at least I think I do. What I don’t particularly care for is finding that little yellow box at the bottom of my articles having been filled with someone else’s version of my article. If you have something more to say that is along the lines of what I’ve written, then write another article about it.
Now, I myself don’t need your critique. I request them for the sake of those that might read my stuff. Truth be told “I like ME” just a little too much and there you see one of my many “rough edges” that hinder my flight, so to speak.
Now, the Lord takes care of me and just as I am I’m getting along fine. What I am concerned about is that although my journey may be okay for just me; what is my writing doing to those who are right behind me? How am I affecting those people?
“They” need your critiques of my writing because, left without you other “stones” I might remain just a little too rough and should that opportunity present itself for the Son of David to slay the Goliath in their land, well, I may just find myself…
Worse than that; Goliath may just get to remain in their land and keep them from entering into what it is He has for them.