This week I want us to look at more of the details included in the scriptures we quoted last week.
So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.’ Then one of the young men said, ‘I have seen the son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.’ I Samuel 16:17-18
Does it strike you as curious that a mere shepherd-boy, a teenager, should be so eloquently described by this unnamed young man who served Saul?
A skillful musician – Every person is born with talents which God has given him/her. David clearly had a gift for composing and playing music. The word translated ‘skillful’ here comes from the Hebrew root for the word ‘good’. In other words, David was very good at playing the harp and singing. He may well have started playing as a child and he worked at perfecting his playing, especially because of his love for God and desire to worship him. David was the kind of person who wasn’t satisfied with mediocrity. If he was going to worship the Holy One of Israel, he intended to do his very best at it because that’s what God deserves. Saul wanted someone who ‘played well’. David fit the bill perfectly.
A mighty man of valor – this is a man who has moral and spiritual strength, courage and passion. The young man praising David to Saul must have known David fairly well. Perhaps he was a friend of his. Perhaps he knew about the time that David slew the bear that was trying to steal his father’s sheep. Perhaps he knew that David killed a lion with his bare hands. Whoever this young man was, he had firsthand knowledge of the kind of man David was. He didn’t want just any musician playing for the king. He made a point of describing David’s character.
Talent without character is just a performance.
Talent with character is ministry.
Saul didn’t need to be entertained; he needed to be ministered to.
A warrior – Saul had an entire army. Did he need another warrior? No…and Yes. He may not have needed another warrior for his physical army. But as he was being buffeted by an evil spirit, he needed a spiritual warrior. He needed someone who knew the power of praise and worship as an antidote to evil activity.
In the book of Judges, chapter 1, verses 1-12, Israel is preparing for battle and they inquire of the Lord, Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites? The Lord tells them …Judah is to go. Later, in Judges 20:18 we find, ...who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites? The Lord replied, Send Judah first.
There is a profound message here for all of us. When faced with problems, struggles, difficulties of any sort, our first tendency is to cry out for God’s intervention, just as the children of Israel did. God’s reply is ‘Send Judah first.’ Judah’s name means praise or thankfulness to God. The first place to turn in difficulty is praise and worship. As we praise God, especially when our emotions really don’t feel like doing so, His power is loosed into the situation and His wisdom is so far higher than ours.
Saul needed someone near him who could not only comfort him in his anguish but who knew the power of worship to drive away the spirits of darkness. David was the kind of man who knew when to be serious. When he went into battle, it was to win. His anonymous friend wisely recognized this about the young David.
One prudent in speech – there’s an outstanding character trait. Being prudent means knowing how to speak wisely: when to speak and when to be quiet. The Scripture says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Prov. 17:28). Knowing when to speak and when to be silent is a mark of maturity. Remembering to think before your speak is another mark of maturity.
Prudent speech is wise speech, an art learned over time. Was it the many long hours alone with God that taught David prudence? Most likely. There is no substitute for spending consistent, quality time in the presence of the Lord. The fruit is sweet.
To control one’s tongue is to control one’s life. Prov. 12: 14 says ‘A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words…’ We need to constantly remind ourselves of the power of the spoken word. Once it passes your lips, it cannot be revoked.
Again in the Proverbs, ‘He who restrains his words has knowledge and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.’ Prov. 17:27′
How many of the proverbs which Solomon later wrote were truths he learned from his father, David? Have you thought about that?
Handsome – certainly David was blessed with pleasing features but I suggest there is more to it than that. A worldly man who may be described as ‘handsome’ may have an ugly spirit. His character may not match his external appearance. David, however, was ‘a man after God’s own heart.’ My friends, there is an inner beauty that overshadows external features. For all the time we invest in taking care of our bodies, should we not invest even more time taking care of the inner beauty of our souls?
The Lord is with him – this really says it all. If the Lord is not with you, no amount of money, power, possessions or talents will make you ‘a man (or woman) after God’s own heart.’
But if you have made the Lord the highest priority of your life, if He comes before all else and all others, if your dedication to His Word guides your daily life, then, like David, the Lord is with you. David’s relationship with God was obvious to all who knew him.
I have wondered whether the ‘one young man’ was actually Jonathan with whom David had a legendary friendship later. We don’t know but it’s interesting to think about.
- Can your family and friends see these qualities of David in you?
- Which one(s) needs perfecting? Prudent speech? Skillfulness in what you do? Strength and courage in the face of challenges?