David was the youngest in a family of 8 sons (and I suspect he had sisters as well). Entrusted to him was the family flock of sheep and he would live with and protect in the wilderness, caring for their needs and watching out for ’em.
Due to vast amounts of time spent in the wilds of his country, he took up music, playing the harp and learning of song. In fact, we know that he was very skilled musician! Who wouldn’t be with all that extra time on your hands?!
Its easy to imagine various things about his life. What would one be like when spending so much time on their own, obeying father’s orders? I imagine the fella was quite dirty and smelled like it too. I imagine he enjoyed the let-down when he returned home, got to see his family once again.
And then someone named “Samuel” came a-calling on family home while David was in the wilds with the sheep. This man of God was sent with a special mission: to choose the next king for their nation.
Y’see, the current king wasn’t so good at following God’s direction. He half-heartedly obeyed but was constantly swayed by what others thought. And then the day came when God ran out of patience with the man (though he remained king), decided it was time to select another for the future. God sent Samuel to choose this man.
And he did. Long story shortened, they had to send for David ’cause none of the older dashing brothers would do. And when the grubby, late-teenage David came into the room, God told Samuel:
“Arise, anoint him; for this is he” (1 Sam 16:12b)
If this story was put into form on a comic strip, I do believe Samuel would have had exclamation points and question marks exploding in the bubble of his thoughts!
“HUH?! He may be good looking, but he’s a dirty, stinking, 18 year old boy who takes care of sheep with the servants!!!”
Yep. Do it, Samuel.
Know what? Samuel does!
Y’see, God had just directed him a wee bit earlier when he had his own eye set on the eldest son of the family that he was not to look at the outward appearance. God doesn’t choose based on the outside, but by what is within the soul.
Though David may have been grubby, God saw something in his soul that was sparkling clean, fresh, had huge potential for the future.
You’d think he would have stepped into a royal position immediately, wouldn’t you? He’d been chosen: where was his kingdom and power?
Still under his father’s authority, he returns to caring for the flock of smelly sheep on the hillsides surrounding Bethlehem.
Now I’m on the comic strip: ?!&$#!???
Why? He was chosen for good reason! Why did David have to wait? What was going through his mind? How did he know he would one day be king? And how should he live his life meanwhile?
We know he lived it in submission to those over him. And he continued in the integrity of his heart that was there before he was anointed.
David. His life has carried something special for me over the past years and even to present date.
Since recovering to 85%, I’ve felt a lack of direction and purpose in life. I’m not fully functioning. I have to guard my time, manage my diet, sleep and give myself a quietness of environment more often than I like. If I push myself too much, I have to take several down days to recover. I’m “normal” but limited. Always limited.
Previous life? It held promise of fulfillment and a good, wholesome purpose! I was working at a Bible college and was highly involved with our small group leaders, in walking beside the young women. I was seeing real change in their lives.
It’s a beautiful thing, to watch God’s love and truth permeate the soul! Eyes and face soften as with new life. Women who hid away suddenly have a new self-respect and even a new manner of carrying themselves. Light shines through once dull eyes, smiles are deeper, minds are strengthened and those around can’t help but notice the change!
Suddenly, I was sick, my feet pulled out from under me. Suddenly, I began disappearing from the picture. And then? I was alone. So alone and it was time, time to face myself and my God.
Trust lessons. Rawness of mind and spirit. Emptiness that drove me to Him. Darkness that arose inside of me. Battles within, such I had never known, knocked me around the room of my soul.
Shaken, falling, flailing…this was not what life should have held! My training! My desire to walk alongside other women! My giftings! The things that amazed and strengthened my faith! Everything I had thought would be pleasing and valuable to God was stripped away. It seemed that everything I was capable of offering had been obliterated.
And I’ve been battling with this seemingly insignificant person I’ve become. I’ve not been able to see outside of her. I’ve wondered what God is doing with my life? Does He really wish for me to remain incapacitated for the remainder of it? What does He see that I do not? What is it He values?
David returned to the sheep after he’d been given the incredible promise of kingship. He had to wait. If you know the story, he had a wait a long time. His life was seemingly purposeless. Day after day, watching sheep! It wasn’t exactly taking him in the direction of kingship or something better!
And yet? We know he learned much in his time there! How to quiet his heart, to listen and hear the voice of God, to meditate on Scripture, to defend the helpless (sheep), respect his own father’s authority…and we all know he developed a killer-of-an-arm with his slingshot!
Did he see God’s plan all at once? Nope! And know what else? Life appears to improve (he becomes an employee of the king, then a celebrated warrior) but suddenly plummets! His time in the desert herding sheep pays off: suddenly he’s running to the desert in attempt to save his life from…(get this)…the king!
It’s easy for one phase of life to feel like a lifetime. It’s easy for me to feel that after 6 years of sickness, I’ve accomplished nothing, I’m contributing less to those around, I’m moving nowhere and though life has improved, its still held me in an incapacitating grip.
David? He didn’t see all the pieces either. But he continued to live life with integrity, in full pursuit of his Lord wherever he was. He spent years running from the king of Israel and even left his home country. What was all this amounting to?
In times of question, its so easy for me to turn away from God, to other things and my own methods to find meaning in life. It seems as if God has forgotten me down here and if I’m going to break free from this purposelessness, I’m going to have to do something for myself, by myself. I’m naturally a person of action and if God’s not going to do something…I WILL!!!
Have you ever read the Psalms? David wrote lots of them, many while he was running from the king and hiding in the deserts. Instead of turning away from God in the purposelessness or taking matters into his own hands, he turned toward Him. Sometimes complaining, sometimes broken, sometimes joyful and filled with glee, sometimes questioning, angry and demanding answer.
But the key? He turned toward, not away from. And it was this attitude of heart that enabled him to do great things for his Lord and God when he did become king.
How about you? What is your natural tendency? Turning toward or running from? Are you trusting…or controlling?