Smooth stones for sharpshooting graduates


“He [David] picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NLT

Graduation season is upon us. Over the next few weeks, people will pile into high school and college auditoriums and fields, or some type of arena to witness numerous smiling students walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. Graduations are special occasions signifying academic accomplishment through diligent study, and acquiring new knowledge, insight and skill.

We generally think of graduations as one-time moments in life. Yet Arie Pencovici is noted saying, “Graduation is only a concept. In real life everyday you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.”

I had the distinct honor several years ago in the month of December of being the inaugural commencement speaker at a local Bible institute. Having completed a 3-year diploma program and being the first graduates of the institute, the students were on fire in the heat of winter. I certainly didn’t want it said that I came and dumped piles of snow or dropped freezing rain on them. Rather, it was my charge to pour some lighter fluid on their coals of fire to help fuel their burning for the Lord and ministry.

My sermonic address taken from 1 Samuel 17:38-43, 48-50 was entitled, “Smooth Stones of Sharpshooting Graduates.” Using this story which highlights David in his contest against Goliath, I wanted to give these graduates a few stones to put in their pockets for ammunition as they engage ministry in our postmodern culture.

Briefly the story goes like this. In making his approach towards Goliath, the young, yet anointed David had picked out five smooth stones from a stream and put them in his pouch, with his shepherd’s staff and sling in hand. As Goliath approached David, apparently the giant only noticed the staff in David’s hand for he barked in disdain, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” After David’s confident reply of certain victory, Goliath makes his move to attack David, who on the run towards Goliath reached in his pouch, took out one stone and slung it. BAM!—the stone struck and sunk into Goliath’s forehead. Goliath stumbled, falling face down to the ground. The sharpshooting David stunned and smote the giant opponent with one of the five smooth stones from the stream, and then proceeded to finalize the victory.

A sharpshooter is someone highly proficient, who shoots with accuracy. In my attempt to spur these graduating students in being spiritual sharpshooters, I recommended these five “smooth stones,” whereby either of these the graduates would stand firm in the faith and stun opponents of the gospel they may face:

1. Let your labor be in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

2. Use your knowledge for kingdom-building (1 Corinthians 8:1-3, 10-12).

3. Commit to communicate and share what you have learned (Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:2).

4. Continue to cultivate your character and competence (Psalms 78:72).

5. Be faithful to what you have been fortified with and called to (2 Timothy 4:7).

Since graduation is a lifelong process, make a difference in life by being a spiritual sharpshooter with these five stones whether you may be standing in a graduation line this Spring or not.

Rev. Johnson Beaven III is a speaker, theological educator, and ministry mentor. For more information, view Contact him via email at or X (Twitter) @jbeaven.