When the world chooses a leader, it looks for the obviously strong candidate who has already proven him or herself to have some outstanding qualities. They look at the outward appearance and very little consideration may be given to the heart of the potential new leader.
But not God. When a replacement for an outgoing leader is sought in this world, we look the the powerful, the strong, the impressive. God on the other hand, chose Israel‘s next leader not from the affluent families well known to the palace and other leaders. He sends Samuel out to a young boy who tends to a few sheep. Completely the opposite of what the world would have chosen. David the shepherd boy from Bethlehem the new king? It would have sounded laughable by today’s standards. But God saw what everyone else failed to see. He saw David’s heart. They looked at the outward appearance and missed a potential great leader in the making.
One of the things that makes me curious about David was that Jesus was not ashamed to be called “Son of David.” That says more than many books can say. What was it about David that caused God to declare David was a man after His own heart? In the previous post we looked at the way David prayed. Today we will look at his humility. For ultimately, I believe, humility was the big distinguishing factor between King David and King Saul.
David made mistakes just like Saul did. But where David ran to God with his mistakes and confessed them, humbly asking for forgiveness, Saul tried to downplay his mistakes and hide them under a cloak of religious rituals. He disobeyed God and when Samuel approached him at Carmel, he greeted Samuel with a religious sounding: “The LORD bless you…” Why, he even had a sacrifice prepared for God! While David understood that God does not desire offering and sacrifice to make restitution for our sins, Saul tried to polish up his mistakes with religious sounding words and religious rituals. He tried to hide the wrong deeds with the right religious rituals and sayings. It is however, a contrite heart that God will not despise. Samuel corrected the king by saying:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…“
Although we may desire to do something about our sins and try to make it better with religious actions, David understood that no religious ritual can make it better. God accepts the contrite heart who deeply feels the sorrow for the sin committed against God. Saul, however, was not so concerned about receiving God’s forgiveness. Whereas David often wrote about his delight in God’s forgiveness, Saul was more concerned about trying to avoid the consequences of his actions and losing face in the sight of the people.
With the rejection of King Saul still fresh in his mind, Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint the new king. Having not met David before then, he went there with preconceived ideas of what this new king will look like. So much so that when he saw Jesse’s first son, he was convinced this must be it. Eliab had all the makings of a king and Samuel thought: “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
Eliab was tall, muscular, a warrior, good looking –not unlike Saul in physical stature. But as Samuel passed by the one muscular son after the other and every time heard that God did not choose this one or the other one or any of these muscular guys, he must have wondered who God had in mind. He turned to Jesse and asked, “The Lord has not chosen these…Are these all the sons you have?” As it turned out, Jesse did have another son. He just didn’t think David would even be considered and so left him to tend the sheep while his big, strong sons were part of the parade.
The very one that Jesse thought could never be chosen, was the one that God chose. How we miss it sometimes when we choose our leaders! We look at all the things God does not look at. Does he dress well, speak well? Is he strong? Was he in the football team? Does he come from an influential family? Here we can see how both Samuel and David’s own father were looking at the wrong things. God chooses differently. God makes up His own mind about us.
Are you the odd one out? Your entire family has become accomplished members of society and you are the one left to do the menial tasks. You feel out. You wish you were like the rest of them. You desire to “fit” in. Perhaps you are even brushed aside when people come to visit.
May David’s story encourage you. Don’t feel out. God has a different plan for you than He has for others. Don’t compare yourself to them. God’s choices are not people’s choices. He looks at the heart. He sees your potential long before even your own family members can see it. Let’s quit trying to be like the rest and be content that God made us each unique. He chose us to stand out, not to fit in. Perhaps others see you as the odd-ball. That doesn’t matter however. God is not swayed by popular opinion as we see in the story of David.
Perhaps you are doing nothing you would consider significant right now. But keep your eyes on God. Nothing is insignificant in God’s eyes. Since David was humble enough to care for the sheep while his brothers were all part of King Saul’s mighty army, God went right to where David was and raised him up not to be part of the army, but to become the most successful leader of that army.
It is written that we must not despise the day of small beginnings. David wasn’t phased by small beginnings. Jesus said, “He who is faithful over little will be ruler over much.” If we despise the little, we may never gain any more. Since David was faithful over little, his was rewarded in the most incredible way: He became the ruler of all God’s people and the Son of God was not ashamed to be called the Son of David!