There are several occurences recorded in the first book of Samuel which give us a pretty clear picture of how David came to the attention of the public and how he rose so quickly to a position of great prominence and respect. The references are listed, and you’ll certainly want to consider them for yourself and form your own opinions about how such an unlikely candidate could be selected for such an important role in the history of God’s dealings with mankind.
1.) Early years as shepherd, composer, harpist (Presumed)
2.) David is selected and anointed as the second king of Israel. (I Samuel 16:1-13)
3.) He’s recruited as musician to the King and also becomes his armor bearer. (I Samuel 16:14-23)
4.) A man of war versus a man of God (I Samuel 17~ Notice vs. 33, especially. Armed with nothing but a simple, primitive weapon, courage, and faith in his God, he confronts a seasoned, feared enemy warrior.)
5.) He joins the King’s court. Growing public adulation angers Saul almost from the beginning. He rises in the ranks and becomes a public hero.
When we first meet David, there doesn’t seem to be anything “kingly” or distinctive about him. His country is having a crisis of leadership, and he’s probably totally oblivious to it. There was no round the globe, round the clock news reporting, so he was probably blissfully naïve and unaware of the problems on the national scene. He was just a shepherd boy, taking care of business. He wasn’t seeking glory. He was doing his duty, herding sheep. When the “Kingmaker” (the prophet Samuel) came to announce and anoint God’s choice for a successor to Saul, David didn’t elbow his way to the front. But although it may not have been apparent to me immediately, he possessed all the qualities you’d expect in a leader. From the outset, he strikes me as modest, courageous, dependable, loyal, and respectful. But he probably smelled like sheep! Good thing it wasn’t raining when Samuel came calling!
Again and again it seems God sees things in us that everyone else might overlook.
As I began to get reacquainted with David, one of the things which kept being said is that: “the Lord was with him.” There’s a key to his comeback! I’m not certain of all the implications in such a statement, but at the very outset it seems there was a love which went back and forth between him and his God. There’s no doubt in my mind that such a bond was forged early in his life that nothing could ever completely sever it. Enough is said about David’s time of solitude and a close relationship with his Creator that you can hardly miss it. If he only wrote even a small percent of the Psalms attributed to him, there’s great evidence of appreciation and adoration for his God. Those early memories and cherished experiences could not possibly be forgotten or simply cast aside. Just now I’m in process of reading Just As I Am, the autobiography of Billy Graham. In it he speaks often of times when he sought solitude. When he would simply get away from the noise and distractions to meditate, and pray.* Those “quiet times” were as essential to the growth and service Billy Graham has given for so long, so unselfishly, as they were for David.
And they are equally invaluable to you and me, if we’re seriously considering serving God.
I thought, for example, of the twenty third Psalm which is attributed to David. If that’s the case, he probably wrote it in his mid or early teens! Tell me what teenager you know who feels so deeply and writes so profoundly!
So quickly he rose to notoriety. Early it became apparent that he was on the fast track to fame. A man of vision with a mission….How did he make it so quickly?
When you first meet him, he’s young, naïve, modest, and a simple shepherd. As we learn more about him, it appears we’re becoming acquainted with someone destined for leadership. Among Jews and Christians, his memory and contributions are honored, even revered. In spite of his huge mistakes, he returns from what easily could have been the rubble and smoke of a ruined career and becomes one of the most respected figures in Hebrew history. In fact, he might well be considered an ancient renaissance man before the historical period we know as The Renaissance. From humble beginnings as a shepherd lad from a very modest family to be regarded as perhaps the greatest king ever to occupy the Jewish throne, he became warrior, poet, musician, kingdom builder, and disgraced and then restored, respected ruler.
As he strides forth, humbly but confidently, he is a young man of great but simple faith, integrity, and courage. He handles himself magnificently in a great crisis, and as a result the people adore him. And the soldiers trust his leadership and follow him.
After an almost meteoric rise from obscurity, he soars far above the ordinary in both accomplishments and in potential.
There is little hint about the mess he’s about to make. Or the consequences which he’ll be unable to escape.
God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student, ~dk
*“On rainy days, I liked to sneak away into the hay barn and lie on a pile of straw, listening to the raindrops hit that tin roof and dreaming. It was a sanctuary that helped shape my character…at our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my favorite spot is a little path above the house where I walk alone and talk with God…” Billy Graham
( As a boy and in the early days as a young Christian, I did pretty much the same thing. Try as I may, I have been unsuccessful in every attempt to erase memories of those experiences. When I strayed away, they beckoned me back. I came to understand what Augustine meant when he said: “Thou has made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” ~dk)