We have arrived at the last post of our “Of Kings and Men” series. I hope you have enjoyed the series and have been challenged by it as much as I have. I must admit it went longer than I had imagined, and it would probably have gone on for another two posts but I did my best to keep it to just today’s post.
On our first post we witnessed Israel rejecting God and requesting a king like all the nations. We then followed King Saul as he became the first king of Israel, Saul was tall, handsome, and in certain aspects clueless. We followed his success and we watched him disobey then reject God. On this post we will see the rise of the one who was to take Saul’s place as King of Israel.
Now, in contrast with Saul, we have someone who is not obviously king material. His own father didn’t expect him to have that kind of potential. In contrast with the story of how Saul was chosen we have someone who looked like he would make a nice king rejected. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Now we have God chasing someone not like all the other nations, but someone after His own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14)
Here is why I take hope in this message. There is only so much I can do about my height, actually I have very little control over that. There is relatively little I can do about my looks, other than being clean and neat I can’t do much about my other features. My heart however, the way it is used in the Bible, has more to do with character. Character has to do with habitual choices. What type of person do I choose to be daily? Do I choose to make a difference, do I choose to be honest? Do I choose to live up to my word, do I choose to love, to forgive, to help…
My character, or my heart, is really the sum of my life choices. My thoughts shape my decisions which make up my habits, which in turn mold my character and ultimately forge my destiny. I have much more control over my heart than I do over my appearance.
We tend to downplay our role in our destiny, we want to downplay the impact of our everyday apparently insignificant decisions. We talk about the heart as a wild thing that has a mind of its own as if we had no choice in the matter. Sure, we all have inclinations and tendencies, and some things will come easier to us than others, but that doesn't mean we are slaves to our urges. Some turn to predestination, others blame their genes, and few take responsibility for their choices and nurtured habits. I know there are things that lie beyond our realm of influence, that is not enough reason to live as if everything was beyond our control. We talk about falling in and out of love, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Love, biblically speaking, is something that comes from God, not just our feelings, and it is also a decision we make daily. I know that love is also much more but that is a topic for a different post.
How odd that a young shepherd is chosen to be anointed king.
When one king is introduced as a incompetent shepherd unable to find donkeys, which are large animals. (1 Samuel 9:3-5) Another king is introduced as faithfully keeping watch over his sheep even though the prophet came to his house to anoint the next king over Israel. (1 Samuel 16:11)
When one king is head and shoulders taller than all around him, the other is the youngest in the family. While one resembled the kings of the surrounding nations the other was not even considered a possibility by his own father. One looked the part and was clueless, the other looked ordinary but had character.
It could be that David developed his character while tending the sheep. He could have resented the arduous task, but instead he did his best, and God used those experiences to shape David’s character, to build his faith.
Remember Moses? Fresh out of the top university of the ancient world, having been educated in the palace of Egypt, he was ready to lead and to stat a revolution. Right off the bat he killed and Egyptian. Moses had received the best training the world had to offer to any leader. God took him to the wilderness and had him tend sheep for forty years before He could use Moses to lead His people. (Acts 7:29-30)
There must be something about engaging in thankless tasks solely for the benefit of others.
Could it be that ministry is a lot like taking care of sheep?
Is that what Jesus does for us?
Is that what He calls each and every one of us to do?
Ministry is not just for some, it is not optional. Ministry is what helps us develop character. Ministry is how God makes us men and women after His own heart. Ministry is not easy and it is often thankless, and most times if someone says something to you it is a complaint. But it is no different than what Jesus went through while here on earth. And it is the special training He uses to develop His future kings and queens.
Now the Philistines gathered their armies together for battle and Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on one mountain and Israel stood on another on the other side with a valley between them. (1 Samuel 17)
A champion came from the camp of the Philistines. His name was Goliath and he was from Gath. Goliath was 9 1/2 feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was wearing a coat of mail that weighed 125lbs. Goliath also had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Imagine Goliath standing there holding the staff of his spear which was like a weaver’s beam and just his iron spearhead weighed 15lbs, with a single thrust of his spear Goliath could destroy the shield of his opponent. Goliath was so heavily armed he needed the aid of a shield bearer to come down to the valley.
Daily Goliath taunted the Israelite army, asking for one person to fight him one on one. When Saul and all Israel heard these taunts they were terrified.
How willing would you be to face a tall fully armed experienced soldier?
How willing would you be to face someone who could easily destroy you?
I would like to recommend you to read the story of David vs Goliath found in 1 Samuel 17.
David was a man after God’s own heart.
In his daily activities as a shepherd or a musician for the king David remained humble and focused on God. David had a different perspective than Saul and everyone else in the army. While everyone saw Goliath the giant and trembled (1 Samuel 17:11), David saw a man opposing God and His people. (1 Samuel 17:26)
David looked at his trials from the perspective of someone who is allied with the omnipotent God. David lived like God was powerful and existed. Many of us may claim that God exists and is powerful, but David lived like these things were true. We may claim them, and even think we believe them, like Saul and the Israelite army. But David was the only one to act on it. David did not focus on his limitations, he focused on God’s abilities.
David could only trust God when facing Goliath, because he had learned to trust God as a shepherd. As David experienced God delivering him form his trials, his faith grew (1 Samuels 17:37). As David remained faithful in his daily activities his faith grew so he could face giants in the name of God. David’s faith was not the byproduct of an easy life. David’s trust in God was forged in the fire of terrifying and overwhelming trials. David did not learn to depend on God by sitting in the comfort and safety of his home, but facing lions and bears to protect the sheep that were entrusted to him.
We may bewail our weak faith, but as long as we sit cozily in our comfort zone very little will change. It is in the face of challenges and difficulties that our faith grows. We must become aware of what God is calling us to do and boldly move forward trusting in God to provide the victory. It is important to know God, and also to stand for what you know. If you claim to know God but insist on consistently compromising your principles out of fear or love of comfort, chances are you will never have the faith to face and overcome a giant.
David was not perfect, but he was humble, he was not a giant, but he was brave, he did not have an armor or a sword, but he had his sling and his faith. David had made the most of what he had, he developed his faith in God and practiced and honed his skills with his sling. David had learned to use what God had granted him. He carefully and faithfully developed what had been given him and he did it well. God took what David had and blessed it and with it David accomplished more than those who had better resources than him.
Let us not complain at the size of the giant. Let us not complain at our lack or armor or swords. Let us look at what God had given us. Let us develop it well, and let us boldly step out in faith and use what God has given us to bring honor and glory to His name.