The day was gorgeous.
David was doing what he loved to do. And he was right where he loved to be. Out in the hill country of Judah.
Just him, the Lord, and the lambs. Here he could think, pray, sing to the Lord. He had no idea of the drama unfolding back at home. First a shepherd.
God had been speaking. Calling the priest, Samuel, to stop grieving over the death of a dream. Calling him leave the king, Saul, behind.
Saul had followed the way of the first man and the first woman and taken matters into his own hand. Refusing to wait, refusing to trust God’s timing, he stepped into the role of priest. A role that was not his to fill. The consequence was personal and terrible … just as it had been for them. They lost their place in the garden. Saul lost his place in the kingdom.
Consequence didn’t come immediately. But the camel’s back broke, not when Saul overstepped his role, but shrunk back from his responsibility. It was done. Samuel grieved. And the Lord regretted he had ever made Saul king over Israel.
Now God has chosen a king, a man after his own heart. A man who was first a shepherd. And it was Samuel’s job to find him.
Samuel arrived in Bethlehem. They had heard about Samuel, what he had done to Agag. And although they, as Israelites, had no reason to fear, still, they were uneasy. But Samuel spoke peace and called the town to worship.
As Jesse and his sons arrived, one son was missing. But he was the youngest, a shepherd boy. Not a big deal for the father, the sons, or anyone else. The young men were strong and handsome. Samuel knew that one of these men had to be the king God had chosen.
But as the young men passed before Samuel, God was silent.
Samuel thought, prayed, and turned to Jesse. “Are all your sons here?”
“Well there is one more, the youngest. But he’s keeping the sheep.”
“Send for him. We will wait.”
Out in the hill country David walked among the sheep. He knew his sheep, and his sheep knew him. “Beautiful day,” he thought. “Thank you, Lord.”
Up over the rise he spied a friend from the village running toward him. “David! Come quick. The prophet, Samuel, is with us. And he wants to see you!”
David, hurried down to Bethlehem asking questions all the way. His friend didn’t know much. Only that the prophet-priest Samuel had shown up and now wanted to see him.
David and his friend arrived as the men milled about. Speculating stopped as Samuel stepped forward to meet David. He was handsome and strong, but more than that his heart was turned to God.
Time slowed and God spoke. “Samuel, this is the one. This is the man after my heart.”
Samuel drew the flask of oil from the folds of his garment. And as the oil streamed over David’s head and down his still smooth cheeks, the Spirit came upon this shepherd boy. First a shepherd. He would be king.
Out in the fields among the sheep, God prepared David. He drew his heart, taught him to worship, taught him to pray, taught him to protect the sheep, and to trust God when the enemy was fierce. David would be king, but he was first a shepherd.
A shepherd pointing to the Shepherd, the one who leads, and protects, and woos our hearts. The one who knows us by name holds us close to his heart.
From creation to the cradle, the tracing of the promise continues. A Shepherd is coming.
Do you know this Shepherd? Do you need what only he can offer? Leadership? Protection? Do you know that he loves you tenderly, holds you close, calls you by name? His voice is tender. Listen for it today.
Thank you for joining us for Promise. We are tracing the promise of Christ from creation to the cradle. I’d love to hear from you — in the comments, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.