Summary: David was an unlikely person to be called to serve as a king. This message explores the nature of his calling and the nature of ours.
How could God use me? Why would God use me? Who am I that God would want to use me? Those are all questions each (or most) of us have wrestled with in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Most of us, if we have a healthy humility factor, believe there is nothing special about us…that we have no gifts or talents…that God would use for His glory. But, we would be wrong. Each of us are called to the Kingdom and called in the Kingdom. We are called to salvation and to service. Not only are we called, but we are, believe it or not, anointed for that service.
As we continue our Called worship series this month, we look at the anointing of Israel’s second king, David. David is, to most Christians (and not a few Jews) almost superhuman. He’s a hero of the faith and perhaps the world’s most well-known religious figure apart from Jesus himself. He’s on one of those religious pedestals we put folks on, but upon which we’d never put ourselves. We tell ourselves, “I could never be a David,” but as we read this morning, no one around David thought he was anything special at the time, either. To his family and the world he was a nobody, but God takes nobodies and turns them into somebodies. God sees beyond the externals. God sees the heart of a person, and He offers His anointing to all who follow the way of Jesus. What can we learn from David’s anointing?
First, a little background: The nation of Israel had been ruled by judges for generations. Samuel (whose calling we explored two weeks ago) had become the prophet and judge of the nation. He grew old, and the people didn’t like his corrupt sons so they called for a king. “You’re getting old, Samuel. We don’t want to be led by your sons, so please give us a king like everyone else has.” The people wanted to be like everyone else. Everyone else has a king. We want a king, too. If we had not pushed pause last week, that would have been the point of our message—we want to be like everyone else. Don’t stand out from the crowd. Blend in. Keep up with the Joneses. But, God’s people are called to be special…to be different…to be distinctive…to the a holy nation…a royal priesthood. The people, however, kept clamoring for a king, so finally God relented and told Samuel, “Give them what they want.”
Samuel anointed a man named Saul as Israel’s first king. 1 Samuel tells us Saul was the best looking man in the nation, and he stood head and shoulders taller than everyone else. So, Saul was a tall, good-looking man. Just what everyone would expect, right? But, Saul turned out to be a terrible king. Judging from the outward appearance, Saul seemed to be perfect, but there was a character issue with Saul. He was disobedient to the Lord, and he liked to “spin” things a certain way…like the campaign “spin-doctors” in our world today. After all, it’s all about perspective, right? Like the casino commercials we see on TV almost every day. What we see on the commercial is flashing lights, fun, fellowship, good times and the potential for a windfall of cash. What we don’t see is broken families and addicts putting their last dollar in the slot machines hoping for the big payoff. As the old saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold.” We, too often, focus on the externals, but God sees the heart.
When Saul failed as king, God would choose another to anoint in his place—David. Verse 7 of 1 Samuel 16 was a reminder to Samuel and the nation that the Lord looks beyond those external characteristics to see what lies in a person’s heart. Even Samuel got confused by the externals. He was called to go to Bethlehem to anoint the next king. Told to go to Jesse’s house for there he would find the new king. Samuel thought Jesse’s eldest son would surely be the one. That’s who tradition said it should be. When it wasn’t the first, he thought surely the second, but no, it wasn’t. On down the line through seven of Jesse’s sons, but still no king.
“Are these all your sons?” Samuel would ask Jesse.
“No, there’s one more, but he’s out keeping the sheep,” was Jesse’s reply.
“Better go get him because we’re not going to eat until he comes.” Samuel said.
Jesse sent for his son, David. He was the one…the almost forgotten one…who would be anointed king of Israel.
There are a few lessons I learn as I reflect on this anointing today. The first lesson is we should never be fooled by the packaging. It’s not what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside.