We start today at the first mention of David in the Scriptures.
And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are these all your sons?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him for we will not sit down until he comes here. So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. I Samuel 16:11-13
Three people are named in this passage: Samuel, Jesse and David.
Samuel, the prophet, learned to hear the voice of the Lord as a young child. (I Samuel, chapters 1 through 3) By chapter 8 of I Samuel, the elders of Israel approach him and ask him to appoint a king over Israel. As we follow the narrative, it is as if we are eavesdropping on the prophet’s conversations with the Lord. It’s an amazing interaction.
Hearing the voice of the Lord with such clarity is, in fact, something available to all of us. While the true prophet will hear messages pertaining to the people of God, those of us who are not prophets are nevertheless urged in the scriptures to ‘hear the voice of the Lord’ for our own lives. As David himself would write years later:
For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness when your fathers tested Me. Psalm 95:7-8
And in Psalm 85:8: I will hear what the Lord says to His people, to His godly ones.
Why did David write these exhortations in his psalms? Because he knew the word of the Lord in Deuteronomy:
You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. Deut. 13:4
I have been asked many times over the years, ‘How does one hear the voice of the Lord?’ There is ONE way and ONE way only. Learning to hear the Lord’s voice is the fruit of spending enough time in His presence – consistently. How do you recognize the voice of your best friend in a crowded room? Or the cry of your child on a playground full of children? Because you KNOW them well from having spent ample time with them. The same is true here. There is NO substitute, my friends, NO shortcut. If we are serious about hearing the voice of the Lord we MUST spend time alone with Him in our quiet place. If that is not a priority, we fool ourselves if we think we are serious about intimacy with God.
We don’t know much about Jesse, the father of David, but this scene does tell us something important. When Samuel requested that Jesse bring in his sons, he started with the oldest, the firstborn, the one he expected would be preeminent. He was handsome, intelligent, impressive. Even the prophet was swayed and thought, ‘Surely this is the Lord’s anointed.’
Even as the Lord quickly rebuked Samuel, he was also rebuking Jesse. ‘But the Lord said to Samuel, Don’t judge by his appearance or height for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.’ I Sam. 16:7 A fitting rebuke for us as well! If outward appearance had won the day, we might never have learned about a shepherd boy who communed with his God in the fields and became the Lord’s friend.
How easy it is to ‘judge’ people by outward appearance or by something we think we know about them. It is God who sees and knows the heart. Thank God He does for in truth there are times we don’t even know our own heart, let alone anyone else’s! We need to ask ourselves: do I make snap judgments about people along the way according to how they look? Even a holy prophet made that mistake! It behooves us to take the rebuke to heart.
Meanwhile, as Samuel is successively introduced to Jesse’s seven sons and none of them prove to be the Lord’s chosen one, the teenage David is out in the fields having no idea what’s going on back at his father’s home. It’s just another day as far as David knows; another day like so many days before this one and what he anticipates will be like many more in the future. When he woke up that morning, he had no idea the direction of his life would be radically changed before the sun went down that night.
Most unexpectedly, he is suddenly called back to the house. Upon entering he is most likely stunned to see the prophet of Israel in the home of his father. His brothers are standing around, his father has a curious frown, his eyes fixed on Samuel. The silence is uncomfortable but only lasts a moment.
So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. I Sam. 16:13
Put yourself in that room; Did David wonder to himself, ‘What in the world just happened’? What did Jesse think? What about his brothers? After all, this was pretty shocking; it came – seemingly – out of nowhere!
The scripture doesn’t elaborate so we don’t know. It is important however for we who read the account so many hundreds of years later to at least try to understand how monumental that moment was, not just for David, but for everyone in that gathering.
In obedience to God’s voice, Samuel had just identified the future King of Israel.
Jesse had to wrap his head around the astounding revelation that his youngest would one day rule the Land.
The seven brothers, who were all passed over by the prophet, had some serious humbling to deal with. The ‘boy’ among them (reminiscent of Joseph) was to be elevated above them.
God’s choices are fascinating. Though he was a lowly shepherd, the least respected occupation in ancient Israel, God had been working in David’s life all along. Keeping sheep, even as Moses would later tend the sheep of his father-in-law, was amazing preparation for leading people.
He chose David his servant, took him from the sheep pens. From tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of His people, Jacob, of Israel His inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:70-72
Keeping a bunch of smelly sheep doesn’t sound very spiritual, yet it was the very skills David developed in that thankless role that God used for His eternal purposes.
What about you? Have you felt as though what you do is not important? That surely God uses the clever, the educated, the prominent; but me? I’m just a………………….. Whatever you put into that blank is precisely how God has equipped you to fulfill the purpose for which He created you and placed you on this earth. You and I may not ever have a true prophet of God call us out to a grand destiny. In fact, we probably won’t. However, your ‘mission’ as you walk out your days on this planet is yours alone. If you don’t accomplish it, no one else will.
Don’t know what it is? David didn’t either all those months he was caring for his father’s sheep. But here’s what’s important:
He was faithful in what he was then doing and that faithfulness rose up before God as a sweet smelling aroma. Your present faithfulness to do the very best at what you are doing RIGHT NOW is the only path to ultimately fulfilling your life’s purpose. If God has something else for you in the days or years ahead, your faithfulness today will have a direct effect on what comes next in His plan for your life.
Comments? Observations? Questions? Please respond below.
Til next Tuesday, be blessed and be a blessing!