If you decide to read the Bible from the beginning to the end, almost a quarter of the way into it, a young boy is introduced to us. He is David and he is the most famous king that Israel ever had.
Samuel, the prophet has been told by God that the king God put in place, is no longer the man to rule over His people and that he has to find this family in Bethlehem, and anoint one of the sons. I'll let Samuel tell you the story as it happened:
1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
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 powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah. NIV
When Samuel knew that Saul was to be replaced as king, he did what many leaders would do. He looked back at previous experience of anointing a king and decided to do the same. After all, Saul looked like a king, he looked like a champion;
2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. 1 Sam 9 v2 (NIV)
So the obvious thing was to pick the man with the same characteristics and follow the same route.
So he arrived in Bethlehem, a small town where the arrival of "The Prophet" would have been front page news on the Bethlehem Times, and he went to the house of Jesse. Panic broke out as the towns people worried why this man of God had decided to move in for a few days, but God told Samuel to take a heifer and tell the people they were making a sacrifice.
There was a collective sigh of relief among the local elders, and maybe a hint of apprehension in Jesse when he discovered it was his family that Samuel wanted to sacrifice with.
So Samuel told Jesse to get the family ready, to consecrate and to clean themselves up, to make themselves presentable before the Lord, and they did so.
That evening, Samuel started the process, and thinking back to his last ordination, He saw Eliab and realised that this tall man looked kingly, and must be the man for the job. No sooner had he thought this than God spoke to him clearly:
"Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart." 1 Sam 16v7 MSG
Eliab wasn't the one for the job as God knew his heart wasn't right before Him. We see this in ch 17, Eliab is the one to verbally attack David as he goes to fight Goliath. Eliab didn't know God's heart, and as a result, his heart wasn't like God's.
Samuel went through the 7 sons that Jesse had presented to him and none of them were the one God wanted. Knowing that God is never wrong, Samuel wanted to know if that was it. Jesse replied that there was his youngest, minding the sheep. Samuel refused to go any further unless the son was brought before him.
Now at this stage, David is estimated to be between 10 and 13 years old. He spent every day minding the sheep, being on his own and writing songs. He learned in this time that his God was there with him. He learned that his God was interested in him and he learned that he could sing, write songs, worship and praise Him. He was learning what it was like to have a quiet time with God.
Getting back to the story then, David was obviously not invited to the sacrifice with Samuel. He wasn't presented to Samuel in the beginning because Samuel would have known when he came to David that he was to be king. David wasn't considered to be important enough to be there. He wasn't considered to be part of the family.
The argument here is that somebody had to mind the sheep. That's true, but David himself hints at why this may have been the case:
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me." Psalm 51v5 NKJV
David says he was conceived in sin, was he only a half brother? Did he have an different mother? Was he not considered to be part of the family because of this?
Jesse himself refers to David as "....the runt. But he's out tending the sheep." 1 Sam 16v7 MSG
Whatever the reason is, David wasn't invited to the party, yet the party wasn't going to happen until he arrived.
Psalm 118 v 22-23 says:
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes." NIV
This verse was used to refer to Jesus in the new testament, yet could have easily been written about David.
Yet when he arrived, Samuel knew immediately that this young man was to be king. He was accepted by God, anointed by Samuel and filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
Have you noticed that something's missing?
David wasn't consecrated, and hadn't gone through any necessary rituals before coming to the sacrifice. The reason for this is because his heart was right with God.
David was used to being in the Presence of God and so was able to walk straight in to the place of anointing. Once this happened,
"The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life." 1 Sam 16v13 MSG
His heart was right, he was anointed and he was empowered for the rest of his life. He was to become king. He was to become the greatest of all his brothers, a champion of his country, yet he was to remain a man whose heart was like God's.
David went on to become a great king because he grew up in the presence of the King of Kings. He learned how to be a king from the One who led by perfect example. Spending time in Gods presence has an infectious way of rubbing off on us. It improves us, it challenges us, it makes us aware of the places we haven't invited Him into. It creates a hunger for more of Him, a hunger that only He can satisfy.
David knew this. David tried this and David applied this to his life. Are you hungry for the heart of God?