Stones Part 2; Slingshots, Sips, & Smoke
“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” 1 Samuel 17:50 NIV
As we continue our Biblical journey, we are adding to our Holy rock collection. Last week we heard the rocks cry out “the kingdom of God is advancing!”. This week, we listen as the stones say, “Only God does the impossible!”. David, another famous “rock” star of the Bible, was going up against all odds. Have you ever been in a position in which all odds were against you? David was the youngest of his brothers, had no military experience, and refused any weapons or armor he was given. The experience he had would never have qualified him to take down the best troop of the opposing army. When he volunteered, Saul dressed him in his own armor! Being the king, it would've obviously been the best quality armor and the best protection he could offer the young boy. It wasn't, however, what David was familiar with. He had experienced God coming through for him when defending his flock of sheep in the past against a bear and a lion. It doesn't say that he used a rock and sling against these but merely that he “struck them down”. It does say, however, in verses 39-40 of 1 Samuel 17;
“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. 'I cannot go in these,' he said to Saul, 'because I am not used to them.' So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Stones were small and seemed like a joke against such military prowess, but the passage does suggest that he WAS used to using them. The stones, to David, represented reliance on God. Many times in the chapter he voices how Goliath would fall because God would fight with David. Our remembrance of the times in which God has triumphed us in the face of overwhelming odds is the stone with which we fight our next spiritual battle. God did it once, he can do it again.
Tired, thirsty, and complaining, the Israelites in the desert sound a lot like many of us on a rough day. Moses was likely sweating for more reasons than the long walk as the exodus from Pharaoh began to look more and more like a death sentence and less and less like freedom. Panicking, Moses turns to God essentially asking for back up. The response?
“'I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.' So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.” Exodus 17:6
Talk about vindication! A rock (as opposed to plant life or even wood) would have been one of the driest elements in the wilderness. To strike a rock and have water flow from it to satisfy the whole group was the message, through a stone, that only God does the impossible. This same back up is still our back up today. When has God backed you up in an unmistakable way? When has He made a solution where there were no possibilities...only impossibilities? Cherish these experiences as rocks for your holy rock collection.
“Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, 'Your name shall be Israel'. With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed,” 1 Kings 18:31-32
Elijah was undoubtedly a close friend of God. This man knew God did the impossible. He decided to prove it in the face of those who worshiped Baal. So he gathered his own rock collection- twelve to symbolize each of the tribes of Israel- and built an alter. He stacked up wood and soaked it with water three times, even digging a water-filled trench around it. Those worshipping Baal also had wood built up as a sacrifice to Baal. In a showdown-style cook-off, the Baal worshippers prayed and danced and called fire down. Nothing. After some time I'm sure they hoped for a rogue lightning strike or anything that might start a fire. Elijah, on the other hand, had a few spiritual “rocks” in his collection. He had experiences in which God had shown him how mighty and able He was. Each of these experiences that he held and treasured in his spiritual collection had built confidence in God. Elijah, having made it as difficult as possible for fire to catch altogether- much less supernaturally- prayed for God to send fire. FLASH. In a fiery blaze, all was consumed. Even the rocks caught flame. I imagine those who used to worship Baal (because who could not believe in God after such a display) watching rocks burn (“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:38). What happened with those rocks in that day would forever cry in their memories, “Only God does the impossible!”
So what did Jesus have to say about rocks? Did He even have a spiritual rock collection? Keep following this month as we explore deeper together.