A lesson – Samuel 16: 5b-13
And [Samuel] sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and the father of David. When the prophet and kingmaker Samuel came to town to find and anoint a new king – since Saul didn’t work out – he came to the house of Jesse, a Bethlehemite. Jesse gathered all his sons together to greet the great Samuel.
Well… not all of his sons. He left his youngest son in the field, tending the sheep.
I mean, who would need him? Jesse had his seven oldest sons present. Who would want the youngest? It was better to keep him where he was.
All seven of those sons passed by Samuel, and Samuel didn’t discern God calling any of them to be king. Samuel asked Jesse, “Are all of your sons here?” When Jesse indicated that the runt of the litter was in the fields hanging out with the sheep, Samuel immediately told him to summon him.
When David finally reached the gathering, God immediately told Samuel to anoint him to be king.
Jesse didn’t obviously see much in him. But, God did.
Jesse, I think, embodies that tendency, that rests in all of us, to be impressed with the biggest, the shiniest, the most educated, the most… You get the point. The choice of David here reminds us that God can do great things with the least likely of people, in the least likely of times, and in the least likely of ways.
O God, keep us open to your ways, and your possibilities. Let us see you at work wherever you are, even in those people and places that we most often overlook. For you are the one who does wonders. Amen.