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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

David in the Early Years

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, January 24, 2016:

1 Samuel 16: 1-13

In this text, we see how David comes to be on the path to being king.  If you're like me, we forget David's lowly origins.  I think of him in his greatness.  I forget that he started out as a shepherd boy, the youngest in the family, one not brought forward for a blessing.

Or perhaps that's not fair.  Maybe he needed to be with the sheep because the sheep needed protection.

But let us think on this for a minute, this issue of God's favor and the chosen one.  Notice again how God upends human expectations.  God chooses the lowly, not the oldest, not the one who is the most handsome, not the one with skills that are immediately apparent.

Here, as in other stories, David's time at the low end of the social structure will serve him well.  He can play the lyre; I imagine him playing as he watched the sheep, a boring job most of the time.  But that skill will be crucial, as David soothes King Saul when the evil spirits come upon him.

The story from his younger, pre-King days that many of us might remember is the story of David and his slingshot against the Philistine giant Goliath.  And just as he has killed the animals that threaten the sheep, he's able to kill Goliath.

We live in a society that's not as stratified as the time in which David and Samuel lived, but it's easy to feel like we're not one of the chosen ones--in our society, the chosen ones are so few.  But the Bible shows us again and again that we all have value to God.  And often, the ones who are most outside of society's favor--those left with the smelly, dirty, boring jobs, like tending the sheep, those who aren't even thought of when we think of God's blessing--those are the ones that God most often needs.

We are all capable of so much more than most of us realize.  God calls us to meet a larger destiny than we could dream of on our own.

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