As David prepared for his battle with the giant Goliath as a very young man the book of 1Samuel mentions something that has always stood out to me. It’s a very small detail that is subtly intertwined in the process of his preparation. For this week’s post let’s consider what 1Samuel 17:40 says…
“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.”1Samuel 17:40
It has always stood out to me that David chose, and that holy writ records, five smooth stones to put in his shepherd’s bag. First was his staff, second was retrieving the stones, then third was storing them for later use. David knew he was going to battle, and he knew he would prevail because God was on his side. That didn’t stop him from preparing some options in the case the first stone missed his target. David didn’t have any misconceptions about being perfect, and I think it spoke well of him that he didn’t leave anything to chance. What if he missed a time or two or Goliath didn’t die after being hit once, or thrice, or even right away?
A good battle plan, and a good leader, always has or at least considers multiple contingencies. Don’t settle for just having a Plan B. Have a few “what if” scenarios gamed out just in case. As in battle, and as in life, things don’t always go according to plan. You should always have a few extra stones, or a few extra options, in your pocket at all times. You don’t always have to reveal them or talk about them or advertise them to others, but you should always be prepared to switch gears and strategies if Plan A doesn’t flesh out like you had hoped.
Here is the verse referenced above in context:
37David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. 38And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 40And 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. 41And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. 42And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. 43And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.1Samuel 17:37-43