The first verse in the bible that introduces us to David is found in 1 Samuel 16:11. Here we find the prophet Samuel who went to a certain man in Bethlehem, named Jesse, as he was commanded by the LORD. Samuel was told by God to go to Jesse in order for him to anoint God's provided king since He has now rejected Saul for his disobedience.
Now we know the story that Jesse presented his sons before Samuel and one by one they came before the prophet but were not chosen. When all 7 sons had been presented to Samuel and none was chosen, Samuel asked if there was anyone else that wasn't there with them...
"And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither." (1 Samuel 16:11)
David wasn't with the rest of his family because he was in the fields tending the sheep. Notice that the Word of God made sure that we know exactly that David was keeping the sheep and not doing anything else! I really paused to ponder on this one because shepherding is not an easy task. As simple as it may seem to let sheep graze around on a certain field, the shepherd's task of overseeing them is not as easy as it may seem.
If shepherding in ancient times were as easy as it is today, we probably wouldn't want to consider David's ways. Compared to modern shepherding techniques, though, ancient shepherds watch over a flock of "high maintenance" sheep without the help of a fence! The shepherd must be skillful enough to keep the sheep together (literally!). Not to mention, these sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd for its protection, grazing, water, shelter and caring for any injuries.
Ancient families who own at least a small flock of sheep use them as a source of milk, meat and especially wool. The sheep was an integral part of a family's life and it was important to have someone oversee their care. However, tending sheep was considered a lowly (although important) task to have in ancient times. Since full-time shepherding demands time to spend with the sheep in the field, the shepherd will usually be unable to participate in community religious activities, as in the case of David. Thus, the work of shepherding would usually fall on the youngest son of a large family.
Isn't it amazing, though, how we couldn't find David complaining about this lowly and tedious task that was assigned to him? David was a young man and there could have been other things he could have done other than watch over those needy, helpless, defenseless, dumb sheep! He could have told his father to just hire a keeper of the sheep because the lowly task of shepherding would ruin his "image". He was good-looking too, after all! Oh, but no, that wasn't the heart of David. God approved of David's heart when He chose him to be anointed king.
"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him. 7But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seethnot as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7)
Here's what we can see and learn from David's young heart:
- Even though he was young (a teenager at that), David wasn't running after things that would make him happy at the moment. He accepted the task that his father gave to him and never uttered a word of complain about it. No matter how lowly that task was, David's heart was humble enough to accept it and work at it with all his might. No matter how lowly the task was, he did it excellently!
- Most often, we would cringe at the idea of doing just a lowly task in school, at work or at home. We always wanted to be the one doing the "bigger, more important things". We usually want to be in the limelight. We usually don't want others to see us clean bathrooms or mop the floor or arrange chairs or mow the lawn or something because we have an "image" to preserve. We tend to want the nicer, better, easier, more sophisticated role. Getting down dirty is out of the equation. It has to always be easy, no-sweat, no sacrifices, no hard-working kind of deal. What would God see in our hearts today?
- Even as a young man, David worked on being a shepherd. He didn't stay at home and lay around all day to watch the butterflies flutter around or listen to the bees buzzing. Samuel didn't hear Jesse say, "David, the youngest, is at home sleeping." He was out and about tending sheep. He wasn't lazy in doing about his father's business!
- Isn't it interesting how selfish our lives can be these days? If there isn't anything that we can get out of something, then we tend to say "Ok then, buh-bye now." There has to be something for us in it in order for us to invest our energy and time on something. Will I get a reward? Will I get a promotion? Will it make me rich or famous? Will it fatten my bank account? Will I have fun while doing it? Will I be noticed (or appreciated)? What will my friends say about me if I do that? I'm really wondering...What would God say when He sees our hearts today?
- David never made any excuses for not doing the shepherding. He never raised the issue of wolves, much more bears and lions, when it comes to protecting the sheep as part of the work package!
- It's so easy for us to make excuses about not doing something. We can come up with the most creative excuse in order to stay away from doing what we're supposed to do. Whether it be in a marriage relationship, in a professional scenario, or within the walls of our home, we tend to make excuses, excuses and more excuses. "How can I respect my husband when he's so ungodly?"; "I won't help you with your load of work, even if I'm already done with mine, because that's YOUR assignment, not mine."; "I won't read my bible because I'm really not a reader, besides, it gives me a headache if I read something for a long time."; "I really can't have a quiet time with the Lord at home because the kids and house chores make me soooo busy."; "I really can't play with the kids right now because I'm doing something important on the computer."; "I really don't want to join any activity at church because I have a full schedule at work." What has been our excuse lately? What will God see in our hearts today?
By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life. (Proverbs 22:4)
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
We ought to learn how to humble ourselves first before anything else...
It's the first wise thing we can do.
We are behaving wisely if we are behaving humbly...