Acts 13:36 For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
There was a journey of preparation and training before David could serve God’s purpose in his own generation. It is clear that God began to work in his heart long before the day Samuel came to anoint him as the next king of Israel. He had been identified as the next King of Israel but was pulled in the opposite direction for several years. He was enrolled in God’s training school where he learnt the following major lessons.
- Servant leadership.
Jesse, his father, had entrusted him with the task of tending after the flock. As a shepherd, it was expected that he would take care of both the young and old, the sickly and hurting flock. He provided leadership in times of drought and when danger struck.
1 Samuel 17:34-35 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it…
His experience with the lion and the bear prepared him for the forthcoming epic battle with Goliath. He served the whole nation of Israel by agreeing to confront Goliath. He had confidence that since God used him to kill the beast and the lion, he would use him to fight Goliath. Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.
If God has called you, He has a plan. Do not fret His difficult training.- Os Hillman
Balan Swaminathan in his article ‘Building Strong Leaders’ writes; A close reading of David’s Psalm 23 suggests that being a shepherd, he would have developed the skills required to perform a variety of roles for the followers.
These roles include: Meeting the needs of followers; Finding the right path and keeping followers on it; Honoring and nurturing the souls of the followers; Resolving conflict among followers; Supplying followers to meet the demands of life; Sharing a positive vision; Being present with followers; Getting followers through the valley; Removing irritants that hinder followers from living full lives; and Cultivating loyalty among followers
Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance- Samuel Johnson
God spoke a word through the Prophet Samuel, directing him to anoint the next king of Israel after He had rejected King Saul. David was the youngest in his family. Jesse, his father, did not consider David to have qualified for Prophet Samuel’s anointing and confirmation for the next kingship. When all his sons were presented before the Prophet, David was still out in the fields. But at last, Jesse calls out for him and he is anointed to be the next king of Israel.
From the time of God’s promise to the moment he sat on the throne, he went through times of waiting, frustration and hardships. He was 17 years when he was anointed but he became king of Judah at the age of 30 and he was 37 when he was named king of all Israel.
Psalms 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD
During these years, he spent most of the time in the wilderness since king Saul had wanted to kill him. Amazingly, David twice, had the opportunity of killing king Saul but he did not. He could have tried to speed things up by taking matters into his own hands. In any case, he had been anointed by the Prophet Samuel but he was convicted that God’s timing was the best.
God keeps His promises but He often makes us wait. Those delays reminded David that he was not in control but God was. He learnt to trust in God since waiting and trusting in God go hand in hand.
God is not punishing you, He is preparing you trust his plan not your pain. Life is about change, and the ability to adapt to those changes. Do not fear the changing seasons. Embrace the season of life you are in whether it’s a season of rain or a season of sunshine. God is using it to shape you and prepare you for the future. God is up to something. There is a reason why you went through what you went through. Trust the process, He’s got you. Don’t see bad things as problems, see them as lessons. Maybe without them, you wouldn’t learn and grow.
1 Samuel 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:22-23 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
God rejected King Saul because of his disobedience. This not withholding, Saul remained in the position of kingship until he died. During this time, King Saul became very instrumental in David’s training and preparation for leadership. Although David was anointed as king, he still served under King Saul. When he is called into the palace, he does not demand the throne but he serves the King with humility.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less – Rick Warren
David was humble because he was not spoiled by honor; he freely confessed his sins and weaknesses. He had a lowly view of self, an exalted view of God and submission to God’s will. In spite of the great significance of the anointing that was upon his head, David went back to his old shepherding job.
1 Samuel 17: 17-20 now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the philistines.” Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.
David was anointed in front of his brothers and yet he never thought himself better than them. He knew well that God had chosen him and all his brothers were disqualified for kingship yet he never stopped serving them. When his father asked him to serve food to his older brothers, he did it without complaining.
Humility and honesty are twins. The fact that David was honest about his shortcomings showed that he was humble. He never tried to act as someone he was not. He was not a perfect person. He understood that God qualifies those he calls.
- Total dependency upon God.
1 Samuel 17:33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”
King Saul focused on David’s inabilities. Goliath’s experience and expertise in battle had instilled fear and doubt in his heart. The fact was that David was only a boy and Goliath was a giant with years of experience but David was not pinned down by this. He did not intend to beat Goliath in his own strength and ability. There’s no way he could have done that. He was not strong enough by himself.
People may look at you and say there is no way you will be able to overcome what you are facing. They will show you how great the problem is and how unqualified you are for that task. Saul looked at David’s ability and compared it to Goliaths’ and concluded that David was not enough.
1 Samuel 17:37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
David did not rely on himself and his own ability rather he had confidence that since God had done it in the past, He would be faithful even to do it with Goliath. Killing a lion and a bear was not an easy task. Research shows that the lion is the king of the Jungle. Lions have strong, compact bodies and powerful forelegs, teeth and jaws for pulling down and killing prey. A typical lion is 150-200 kg and 2-3 metered long. We are told that the three strongest things in the animal world are these: first, the blow from the tail of a whale, second, the kick of a giraffe and third the blow from a lion’s paw. The forearm of the lion is worked by great muscles at the shoulder and the blow which it makes is really like the blow from a stream hammer. No wonder that it can kill a man or a big animal with ease.
A study team at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana found that bears, regardless of species, are capable of incredibly amazing feats of strength and power that no human is capable of even replicating. Even a small bear fits under this rule. They are similar to felines in this regard, as well. They have the most developed scapula and deltoid arrangement of any carnivore. A bear can kill with one blow to the neck. The team found out that a grizzly bear could treat a 700- pound dumpster like a beach ball, while it took a minimum of two persons to tip the dumpster. The team concluded that the strength of a calm grizzly bear is two-and-a-half times that of a human. No animal of equal size is as powerful. A bear may kill a mouse, an elk, or a deer by a single blow to the neck with a powerful foreleg, then lift the carcass in its mouth and carry it for great distances.
Drawing from these findings, it is clear that David would not have killed the lion and the bear by his own might. He was only 17 years or younger when he had a confrontation with the animals, and God clearly fought for Him. David walked with that conviction in his heart having an assurance that if God had done it in the past, he would do it even in the present. Killing the bear and the lion required faith and putting confidence in God.