Some presume that David took five smooth stones instead of just one because he had some doubt. However, there is no indication in the story of David and Goliath that by picking up five smooth stones instead of one that David was doubting God. Rather, David was simply being prepared. What if the Philistines attacked him after he killed Goliath? How would he have defended himself? David was simply being prepared when he took the four additional stones. Also, he couldn’t have known that one stone would be enough to kill the giant. God had not promised that David would kill Goliath with the first stone.
David had experience in defending the sheep he guarded with his sling and stones. It would seem that the animals David had faced were far braver than the men with Goliath, because they all turned and ran away (1 Samuel 17:51). David told Goliath that he (Goliath) came with spear and sword, but his weapon was God the Father (1 Samuel 17:37). He trusted God with all his heart, believing that God would tell him exactly what to do and how. And so He did.
Others speculate that David chose five smooth stones because Goliath had four brothers, and David was readying himself to dispatch all five giants. This theory is based on 2 Samuel 21:15-22. That passage lists four very large Philistines who were related to Goliath in some way: Ishbi-benob, Saph, Goliath, and an unnamed giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. “These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants” (2 Samuel 21:22). The account of 1 Samuel 17 does not suggest that David knew about Goliath’s brothers or that he believed he would have to fight the whole family. What we know for sure is that David and his men faced four other giants, somehow related to Goliath, in later battles.
David’s faith was in the Lord, and he knew from experience God’s faithfulness. David’s faith was born out of his experience of God’s grace and mercy in his life up to that point. The Lord had delivered him out of dangerous situations in the past, proving His power and trustworthiness, and David relied on Him to deliver him from the Philistine. Whether it took one stone or five, David recognized that the power was not in his sling but in the Lord of hosts. As David wrote later in Psalm 21:13, “Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.”
I believe that the five stones are symbolic a picture of Christ who is our rock and our shield. I say that because in the Hebrew language the fifth letter in the Hebrew letter alphabet is the letter “hay” . It has a corresponding picture of an open window that most bible scholars agree is a picture of grace. So here is David boasting in God’s ability, confident that God will deliver this great enemy into his hands, he takes Grace into his hands, five smooth rocks another portrait of God’s Son, smooth and without blemish. I believe that God was revealing something very spiritual to believers through this scripture. He depicted a man who did not rely on his own ability hence him taking off the armor he was supplied with but relying on the grace of God, five smooth stones, a symbol of grace a picture of Jesus who is without blemish, our rock and our shield. It was David’s confidence in who God is and God’s grace toward him that gave David the courage to throw the first stone.
The primary reason that David chose five stones was because in scripture five is a number associated with provision, grace, and fullness. (Gen 4:34, Gen 45:22, I Sam 21:3, Matt 24:17, Mark 8:19 David knew that the victory would come from from God, not from his own strength. David knew that the victory was by the grace of God, not by his own merit. David knew that the victory of God would be complete.
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” I Samuel 17:45-47
Just as David credited God, and not his own strength, for the rescue from the bear and lion, he humbly credits the victory to God. Also, David possibly took the five stones because Goliath was not the only giant around. Four are mentioned, at least one of which was Goliath’s brother, in II Samuel 21:18-22. All five of these died by either David’s hand or those under his command. The giants had been wiped out by Joshua from Israel, but some remained in Gaza, Gath (where Goliath was from), ans Ashdod (Josh 11:21-22) While David was only to face Goliath on the battlefield, there was no guarantee that the Philistines would honor the outcome of this “Victory by Championship” battle. Also, even if the philistines left, there was no guarantee that Goliath’s family would not take revenge. Fortunately, the philistine army fled in fear when Goliath was defeated (I Samuel 17:1-58), and it does not appear that the other giants challenged David at this time. They were defeated by David’s men later. In general, he would have taken the multiple stones just as an archer carries more than one arrow in his quiver, or a soldier loads his gun completely. W
Why would he use smooth stones? These smooth stones would have been the swiftest, most aerodynamic, most accurate, and most easily flung from the sling vs. Rough or misshapen stones that might catch on the sling.