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By Jeremy Coe

David was the greatest king of the nation of Israel. He was a feared warrior, a talented musician, a prolific poet, and a natural leader of men. Everything David touched turned to gold. Most importantly, God called David a “man after his own heart.”

“Before David was born, God had a plan for his life, and that plan … and his real identity …

was revealed by God at just the right time.”

But David wasn’t always a venerated King. David started life as a poor shepherd boy from an unimportant family in an out-of-the-way country village. David was rejected his own family … despised by his older brothers and forgotten by his father. He spent years of his life as an outlaw, on the run because there was a death warrant for him, issued by King Saul.

So what happened? How did David end up in a palace when he started in the pasture? How did he end up on the throne when he was running for his life from the King?

David didn’t read a self-help book titled “10 Steps to Becoming a Leader” or enroll in an online class called “How to Get Rich and Be Happy.” The truth is that David didn’t BECOME a leader. God MADE him to be a leader. Before David was born, God had a plan for his life, and that plan … and his real identity … was REVEALED by God at just the right time.

“Reveal” means to make something previously unknown (secret information) known to others. It also means to cause or allow something to be seen. Something isn’t created when it is revealed … it instead means a thing that already exists is uncovered to make it visible. Our word comes from the Latin equivalent of “unveil.” Some synonyms for “reveal” are divulge, disclose, or display.

God told the Prophet Samuel: “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my King. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.” (1 Sam 16:1-2) So Samuel went to Bethlehem as God had directed. Of course, the city leaders and Jesse accepted Samuel’s invitation, since he was the most respected man in Israel at the time and was considered the representative of God to the nation of Israel. But something curious happened … even though Jesse was told to bring all his sons, Jesse failed to bring his youngest son David.

When Jesse’s sons were presented to the prophet, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (v 7)

One by one, all seven of Jesse’s sons went before the wise old prophet. But each time, Samuel knew that he still hadn’t found the one God had sent him to anoint as the next king. Then Samuel said to Jesse, “’The Lord has not chosen any of these … Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse replied. ‘But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.’” (v 10-11)

It really is notable that Jesse didn’t bring David to the feast. The kind of respect that the prophet commanded should have caused a fearful obedience by Jesse (or any other man in Israel at that time). While it was always assumed in that culture that privilege and honor could only be bestowed on the firstborn male, Jesse didn’t only bring his oldest son. He brought six others as well. In that time, as now, the word “all” is self-explanatory. So why didn’t Jesse bring all … why not his youngest son?

While we don’t know for sure, we do know that David’s older brothers held him in contempt. This is clear from the mean way they treated him in the next chapter. Some scholars have expressed the opinion that David may have been the illegitimate child of Jesse and another woman. These scholars point to one of David’s own Psalms where he wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me …” (Psa 51:5) This is a plausible explanation as a child born in marriage is certainly not “conceived in sin.” It might also explain why David’s other seven brothers were invited to meet the prophet and he wasn’t.

Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that David was despised, rejected, forgotten, abandoned … But even though his brothers were older, taller, stronger, more respected, and more accepted than David … God told the prophet that He doesn’t look at the outer man, but at the heart. It’s not about pedigree or money or talent. No one had even considered that David could be the one the prophet (more importantly, GOD) was looking for that day … not even his own dad.

David was an afterthought! He wasn’t at the party with everyone else. Alone. Isolated. He probably still smelled like sheep! Shepherds were often considered ceremonially “unclean” in Judaism because of their frequent contact with dead carcasses. David was unexpected in every way.

I’m sure Samuel was more than a little frustrated when he found out that he had said “all your sons” and instead Jesse picked WHICH sons he would bring. Samuel may have even been a little “hangry” at this point, because it was lunchtime, but he ordered that no one would get to eat BBQ until David got there!

When David, likely a teen at the time, arrived, the Lord said to Samuel, “’This is the one; anoint him.’ So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David … And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.” (1 Sam 16:12-13) David went back to his sheep after God revealed his secret identity that day. Things didn’t immediately change for him … but soon destiny came knocking in the form of a giant enemy!

The Philistines were a fierce, wicked nation to the west that was Israel’s sworn enemy. For years, the Philistines had ruled Israel, taking their food and riches. Now the two nations were at war again, but this time the Philistines had a champion, Goliath, that struck fear in the hearts of the Israelites since he was over 8 feet tall. (Read 1 Sam 17) Every day, Goliath came out and mocked Israel and their God, challenging them to send one man to fight him. Forty days went by, but no one was brave enough to face him. The truth is, you never know who the real warriors are until the fighting actually starts. Before the fight, everyone is talking tou

gh and bragging about what they are going to do. But it’s only after the fight that you see who can really fight and who is all “talk.”

It’s always the same way in sports. Eve and I are big fans of the UFC and boxing. We almost always root for the underdogs. We recently saw a fight where the welterweight champion, Kumaru Usman, was boasting about what he was going to do to the challenger. And he certainly had been successful for many years, having defended his belt 5 times. The challenger, Leon Edwards, who grew up poor in Jamaica, was quiet and unassuming. He was confident in his ability but respectful to his opponent. For the first 24 minutes of the 25-minute fight, it looked like the champ was headed to yet another easy decision win. But in the last minute, the challenger feinted with a punch and then knocked out the champ with a powerful left kick to his neck.

Only in a fight is a real fighter revealed.

David was the same way. David was horrified when he saw his fellow Israelites cowering in fear to the giant Philistine. He went to the King and asked, “Put me in the game, coach!” … or something to that effect.

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” Saul tried to talk him out of it since Goliath was an experienced warrior and David was just a kid. But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Sam 17:34-37)

Then David stood up to the bully: David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (v 45-47)

Then David backed it up with his slingshot. He hit the giant with a smooth stone right in the forehead, and the giant came tumbling down. Then David chopped off Goliath’s head, and the battle was won. (v 50-52) David didn’t become a warrior on the day he killed Goliath … But the warrior spirit that God created him with was revealed that day. Even though he was young and relatively inexperienced, David already knew how to fight for what was important. He had killed a bear and a lion when they threatened his sheep. And when he heard Israel’s enemy mocking their God, a righteous anger welled up inside of him, and he took the fight. And won …

Just like Clark Kent, the mild-mannered journalist who was really Superman underneath his suit, David was a Warrior King hiding under his shepherd’s clothes. The Apostle Paul wrote about the fact that followers of Christ also have a secret identity. “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3) When we surrender our lives to Christ, our new superpower, which is the Spirit of God living in us, enables us to be the people that God created us to be. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17)

Maybe you have been discounted, despised, forgotten … Maybe no one expected you. Remember that God doesn’t look at the outward appearance. He’s not looking for the world’s idea of a “perfect” candidate for the job. God is looking for someone who is willing to obey and has the courage to take the fight … He's looking for some warriors hidden under their prison whites. Are you ready … and willing … for God to reveal who he created you to be?


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