Stones In The Shepherd’s Scrip

Title: Stones In The Shepherd's Scrip

Bible Book: 1 Samuel 17 : 40

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Weapons Of Warfare Against Satan; Spiritual Warfare



The account of David the shepherd boy has always been one of my favorites. As a child I never tired of hearing of the magnificent victory that God wrought with one little shepherd boy, who was surrendered totally to God.

When hearing this story in Sunday School, I would imagine that I was David, standing before the giant Goliath, whirling my sling over my head. I would then imagine slinging that stone with all my might at the giant, and then watching as the stone found its mark in Goliath’s wicked forehead.

There is however, more involved in this story than merely the victory of a shepherd boy in spite of tremendous odds. There is in this story a lesson so simple, yet so profound. In this story we find some principles of service that are often overlooked.

Most of the time, when this account is dealt with, the attention is focused on David. Certainly there is nothing wrong with that, due to the fact that David is clearly a type of Christ. That becomes rather clear when one compares the facts about David with those of Christ.

For instance, David was sent from his father, as was Jesus Christ; He was sent with bread from Bethlehem, while Christ Himself was the Bread of Life, Who was born in Bethlehem, “the house of bread;” David was sent to his brethren, as was Christ, Who was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; David was the only hope of Israel for defeating the giant, while Christ was and is the only hope of salvation for mankind, and the defeat of Satan and sin.

I want us to look at this story from a different angle today. I will not be as concerned with the shepherd in this message as much as with the stones that he used against the giant. David, the type of Christ, used stones to accomplish his great victory. We will liken those stones of the shepherd to the saints, whom God uses as weapons of warfare against Satan.

Notice also that not every stone in the brook made it into David’s bag. He was selective in his choices. The Good Shepherd is also selective when it comes to those He chooses to do His work. Let’s examine the stones that the Shepherd uses.

The stones used by the Good Shepherd are…

I. Picked Stones

1Sam. 17:40a “And he took his staff in his hands, and chose him five smooth stones…”

A. They Were Picked By One Who Was Anointed.

Samuel anointed David for special service.

I Sam. 16:13 “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.”

God the Father anointed Jesus for service with His Spirit.

Luke 3:22 “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”

Luke 4:17 “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

God anoints the saints for service with the power of His Son.

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

2 Cor. 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

B. They Carried His Stamp Of Approval.

Note: Too many Christians are wasting time trying to gain everybody’s approval. That is impossible. What we need to be concerned with is having the Savior’s stamp of approval.

I really cannot give you the formula for success. But I can give you the formula for failure. It’s this: Try to please everyone.

David was selective.

I Sam. 17:40a “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…”

Note: [1] David did not simply go down to the brook and pick up a handful of rocks and dump them in his bag. He was selective. He was looking for stones with certain characteristics. Jesus would later say, “…Many be called, but few chosen” (Matt.20: 16b). All are called to salvation and service in Christ, but few are willing to endure what it takes to meet His conditions.

[2] Many Christians try to excuse themselves from service to Christ by complaining that they haven’t been blessed with this talent or that, like other people. However, the question is not, “Have you been blessed?” but, “Are you in the bag?” If you’re in the Shepherd’s bag, He can use you. God didn’t choose you because you were like someone else. He chose you for the unique qualities He has given you. God doesn’t want “cookie-cutter Christians.”

Jesus has placed His stamp of approval upon us by His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Eph. 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”

I Pet. 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”

According to Eph. 1:13, every born again believer is sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The word translated “sealed” was very meaningful in the days of the apostle Paul. The Greek word, depending on how it was used, implied a mark of ownership, a finished transaction, a mark of security and protection, or a mark of authenticity.

The fact that we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit is proof that we belong to the Good Shepherd, and have met His approval. That knowledge alone should give every Christian a sense of worth.

However, the great need of today’s Christian is not only to be sealed by the Spirit, but to be filled by Him as well.

Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.”

After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

One of the great men of God from last century once spoke of the importance of being filled with the Spirit, as follows:

May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of my self as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His love.

The word “chosen” in 1 Pet. 2:9 means, “…chosen out, select.”

II. Prepared Stones

I Sam. 17:40 “…and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook…” The Brook Had Purified Them.

A. This implies spiritual sanitation.

John 15:3 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

Ps. 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

Eph. 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,”

God rarely uses dirty vessels. If we are to be used by Him, we must keep the attitude of the psalmist, who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23, 24).

There was a good reason why David wanted clean stones. Clean stones are not hindered in flight by dirt and debris. Otherwise, the stones might have been slowed down in flight, and caused to fall  short of their target.

Spiritual purity in the life of the child of God is of paramount importance when it comes to usefulness in the kingdom.

Robert Murray McCheyne wrote to Dan Edwards after the latter’s ordination as a missionary, “In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”5

B. This implies spiritual saturation.

Ps. 32:3 “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.”

When David backslid on God, his spiritual life dried up. If you don’t stay in the stream of God’s Word, you’re not likely to be placed in the sling of God’s work.

The wetness of those stones implies a spiritual truth. In the same way that a wet stone doesn’t easily slip out of a sling’s pouch, the Christian who remains saturated in God’s Word is not as likely to fall out of their place of effectiveness for God.

The Brook Had Polished Them.

The stones had been changed by the water’s turbulence. I Sam. 17:40a “…smooth stones…”

The sand of that stream slowly but surely chipped away at the rough edges of those stones, on a daily basis. Sometimes however, a rainstorm would arise, turning the brook into a raging flood. But when the storm was over, some of the stone’s roughness and sharpness were gone. Most Christians don’t want to hear about this kind of preparation for service. As someone once said, “Most people wish to serve God—but in an advisory capacity only.”

If we’ll face the trials of life submissively, they will have a refining effect on us that will make us more useable to the Master.

He sat by the fire of seven-fold heat, As He watched by the precious ore.

And closer He bent with a searching gaze As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test And He wanted the finest gold,

To mold as a crown for the King to wear, Set with gems of price untold.

So He laid our gold in the burning fire, Though we fain would have said Him, “Nay.”

And He watched the dross that we had not seen, As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter, and yet more bright And our eyes were so dim with tears,

As we saw the fire, not the Master's hand, And questioned with anxious fear.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,

As it mirrored a Form above

That bent o’er the fire, though unseen by us

With a look of infinite love.

Can we think that it pleases His loving heart To cause a moment of pain?

Ah, no, but He saw through the present cross The bliss of eternal gain.

So He waited there with a watchful eye, With a love that is strong and sure,

And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat Than was needed to make it pure!7

Polished, smooth stones were just what David needed for victory. You see polished stones would not hinder his work. Smooth stones fly straighter. They would strike the Shepherd’s intended target.

The Lord transforms us with the raging water of our trials. Trials help to keep the dirt of sin from sticking.

Ps. 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Trials refine us spiritually.

Job 23:10b “…when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

God often uses trials to work out of our lives those things that hinder His work, such as pride.

In 1878, when William Booth’s Salvation Army was beginning to make its mark, men and women from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of becoming a bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. Samuel Brengle left a fine pastorate to join Booth’s Army. But at first General Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, “You’ve been your own boss too long.” And in order to instill humility in Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of other trainees.

Discouraged, Brengle said to himself, “Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?” And then, as in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen. “Lord,” he whispered, “you washed their feet; I will black their shoes.”

Trials enlarge the saints.

Ps. 4:1b “…thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;” Trials cause us to seek the Lord for strength.

Ps. 77:2a “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord…” Trials produce spiritual endurance and stick-to-itiveness.

Rom. 5:3 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience (endurance);”

Trials prepare us to help others who are struggling.

2 Cor. 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Trials are for our ultimate good in God’s service.

Rom. 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

III. Placed Stones

A. They Were Put In A Place Of Availability.

I Sam. 17:40a “…in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip…”

The shepherd’s bag or scrip was generally worn at the waist for easy access. This implies closeness to the shepherd.

This implies availability to the shepherd, since items he might need at a moment’s notice were kept at hand. Are you available to the Lord?

Five Loaves and Two Fishes

God uses

what you have

to fill a need which

you never could have filled.

God uses where you are

to take you where

you never could have gone.

God uses

what you can do

to accomplish what

you never could have done.

God uses who you are

to let you become who

you never could have been.9

B. They Were Put In A Place Of Activity.

I Sam. 17:49 “And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

50a So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone…”

It should be noted that it is the shepherd who energized the stones in his sling. God’s Word makes this clear when it says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). But before the Good Shepherd can energize us for His service, we must be accessible and available to Him.


1. Source Unknown

2. Today in the Word, September, 1991, p. 30.

3. Andrew Murray.

4. W.E. Vine, M.A., An Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey; pg.190.

5.Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 65.\

6. Quoted in Sunday Express, London.

7. Source unknown.

8. K Hughes, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, Tyndale, 1988, p. 45.

9. Philip Clarke Brewer in Holy Sweat

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