Day 82: 1 Samuel 16-17; The Anointing of David

The reading for today, the narrative of David and Goliath, is markedly similar to our reading from yesterday.  But before we get into that, we need to first recognize the beginning of the story of King David.  Here we see what is the “beginning” of the royal family of Israel which will also be the line from which Jesus comes.  I place the word beginning in quotation marks because it really isn’t the beginning, this family has been growing and active for over 500 years already, if you just think back to Judah the son of Jacob.  Remember back with me a bit.  We had Judah, who had an inappropriate relationship with Tamar which produced Perez and Zerah, back in Genesis 38.  Later on, we meet the prostitute Rahab, who was spared from Jericho in Judges 6.  In Matthew 1 we read that Rahab marries a man named Salmon and has a son named Boaz who later marries Ruth.  The son of Boaz and Ruth is Obed who is the father of Jesse the father of David.  So, while David is the most well known in this line (until Jesus), God has been at work in this family for generations!

In this narrative about David’s anointing by Samuel we also come to a familiar verse.  God tells Samuel,

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

In many ways this had become a verse to motivate leaders and give hope to the downtrodden alike.  God is showing Samuel what truly matters.  Saul was a man that stood a whole head above everyone else.  He was strong and handsome, or so we are told, and was the oldest of the sons of his father.  So when people look at him, they see a true leader.  Yet no one would suspect the youngest son, a shepherd, to be God’s chosen for the kingship of Israel.  (Sense some foreshadowing here?)  Yet God anoints David to be King because God knows Davids heart, his innermost being and sees that David is who God needs him to be.  It doesn’t have anything to do with his worldly status, but had everything to do with how God sees him.  Interesting how David became the most influential Kings of Israel, the last of 8 sons… and his offspring Jesus is the Savior of the world, born in a lowly manger.

Finally, we return to the narrative of David and Goliath.  Did you notice the similarities between yesterday’s narrative of Jonathan trusting God and slaying the philistines and David’s trust in God?  Where is Saul (and the people of Israel for that matter) in all of this?  Cowering once again, unwilling to go out because fear has gripped him (or them).  Perhaps this is a testament to effective, or rather ineffective leadership.  When David offers to go, Saul gives him the royal armor to wear (as if that would help him at all against someone as big as Goliath).  But David says no and instead goes out on faith, doing what he knows he can do.  I have tried to imagine the speech that David gives to Goliath… what a rousing testament to David’s faith:

“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,  and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

What confidence from a “youth.”  Perhaps this is what it means to hat “the faith of a child?”  That’s just speculation, but the truth of the matter here is that David believes and trusts in the power of God.  He is unwavering in his conviction: God is real, God is powerful, and God is with him.  And indeed God is with David and a great victory is won against the philistines that day.

Sometimes, as I’m sitting in church, I wonder if we have the same convictions about the reality of God’s presence as David does.  He, like Jonathan, took a risk and faced death in the face on the faith that God was real and God was with them.  I heard a statistic once that over 50% of pastors don’t actually believe what they preach.  How sad… and how scary to face a reality in which God is not active and in control!  Its no wonder Saul was hiding in his tent…  I wonder, if when push comes to shove, we are Davids… or Sauls?

“Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”  Mark 9:24