By Pastor David Wynn, Tarkio Christian Church
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” He asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
David. A fine biblical name, don’t you think? I’ve always liked it. And I have often looked upon David’s life, and I find it is so amazing. Amazing not because of some fantastic mystical revelations, but rather amazing because David was, well, so much like many other Davids I know. And Bills, Marks, Toms, Marys, Pattys, just about everybody, I guess. All of God’s children. Who live their lives with God by their side, but yet . . . David’s story is our story – of cowardice, and courage, of betrayal, and faithfulness, of grace, and forgiveness, of temptation, and triumph.
In the Book of Genesis we read about the dreamers of the Old Testament. There was Jacob, who ran away and started his own family, with two wives, Rachel and Leah, and several mistresses, who all told gave him 12 misguided sons and one daughter. Joseph was the most famous son, and because of him Jacob and the other 11 sons and their families eventually moved to Egypt in the midst of a terrible famine, and prospered. There they and their descendants lived over the next 400 years, until the people of Israel became so numerous that out of fear they were made slaves to the rulers and people of Egypt.
Then God had enough of this abuse of His chosen, and called Moses to defy the Pharaoh and lead the chosen out of Egypt, across the famous parting of the Red Sea, and then because of their stubbornness they roamed the Sinai desert for 40 years until they came at last to the promised land. As they were settling in to their new homes, God decided that there had been enough rulers such as Pharaohs and instead chose 12 judges who were to be the leaders, by region, of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The last of these judges was named Samuel, a good man who was loved by God and respected by God’s people. Now the time was around 1016 B.C., and the people of Israel, stubborn to the core, ever defiant, decided that they should have a ruler, a king, actually. And they, the people, chose Saul as their first king. Well, God wasn’t too happy with their decision or their choice. Saul, you see, was a disobedient and untrustworthy king. So God decided that the next king, if the people felt they needed a king, would be one “after His own heart.” And as we learn every day, God will do what God will do.
So, as we just read from the first book of Samuel, God chose a shepherd boy. David, the boy who would eventually be the new king. Now we believe David was probably between the ages of 8-13 when he was chosen by God, anointed in his father’s home. But he did not actually become King until 18 years later when Saul died. But a lot happened during those 18 years. And it’s important to remember that all during those 18 years David knew the destiny and accepted the future that God placed before him that day.
Let’s look at this story today of how David was chosen by God: God tells Samuel that He, God, wants to pick the next King. He tells him to go to the shepherd town of Bethlehem, and to set up a meeting with Jesse, and to tell Jesse that one of his sons has been chosen by God . . . for a very important task. Did you notice that Samuel never once mentions anything about this son being selected as the new king that would replace Saul? Because if he had, Saul would have most certainly heard about it, and both Samuel and David would have been put to death by Saul. So Jesse brings his seven oldest sons to see Samuel, and leaves his youngest, David, in the field tending the flocks. I mean, after all, David is just a young shepherd boy.
Now here is where Samuel, and we, as well, learn a great lesson: The first son, Eliab, the oldest, comes before Samuel. Tall in stature, muscular, square chin, Samuel thought, if there was ever good king material, it must be here. But before Samuel could open his mouth, God says, “No!”
“Samuel,” He said, “do not look at the outward appearance, as mortals do, but instead look as I do, in the heart.” I love the way our scripture lesson tells it . . . “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Jesse parades all his sons around, gets through all seven of these boys, and God says, “Nope, nada, none of these are the one I’ve chosen.” So Samuel turns in his frustration to Jesse, and says, “Any more?” “Well,” Jesse says, “there is one more, but he’s just a timid little kid, watching the sheep, he doesn’t look or act like someone God would choose for a special task, whatever that is.”
Samuel says, I’m not leaving here today until I meet him. “Bring him to me.” And after his appearance God looks into his heart, and says, “This is the one.”
God picked David because he was a person after His own heart.
How would you feel if God told you today that He has chosen you to one day be the President of the United States? A little scared, maybe?
I imagine David was scared, don’t you think, when Samuel confided in him what his destiny would be? You know, you never know what God has in store for you. David did go on to be the greatest King of Israel.
Well, this is what God did with David. Only a few knew. And remember, God had a plan. And God will do what God will do.
We have all learned some important life lessons here today: You can’t judge a person by their outward appearance, the kind of clothes they wear, the kind of car they drive, the size of the house they live in. You have to talk to people, find out, like God and Samuel did, what’s in their heart. Appearances change, but the heart doesn’t.
And we need to especially remember that as parents we can make catastrophic mistakes when it comes to judging our children. Why didn’t David’s father, Jesse, choose his youngest son to see Samuel? He told David that he did not believe in him by leaving him out in that field.
Part of trusting God is in having the faith that says God believes in me, and has a plan for me, and although we may not know it now, some day . . . some day . . . like David, God will reveal it to us. Guaranteed.
What God saw in David was someone with a tender heart, with the courage and conviction to stand up for what he believed in, knowing that God was standing right along beside him. God didn’t see someone who was perfect.
David blew it, time and time again. But he did see someone who trusted in Him, and was willing to yield his life to God’s great plan.
That’s what God is looking for, ordinary people doing remarkable things in God’s hands.
Lord, thank you for trusting in us, and having a plan for our lives. You created all of us, each with different goals, different futures, but with a confidence inside our souls through your Holy Spirit! In your name, Jesus, Amen.