In the Bible, David was a man of war. He was also an artist, a song writer of the highest caliber, who was celebrated for this grasp of music and mood. He ruminated and got depressed and he celebrated and danced, but he was such a warrior that God wouldn’t even allow him to build the temple because he had too much blood on his hands. David was born to this life, having been a young hellion of a boy that took joy in his weapon of choice.
I think we think poorly about how the ancient times looked at those with a sling.
Malcom Gladwell is not always accurate, but he does have a good bit of truth in his writings, and he speaks of how the ancients did not under estimate a good sling thrower. Many a man was cut down by a stone thrown out of a sling, as it was the equivalent to the arrow man of medieval Europe or a rifleman of today.
So David was a crack shot, a poet, a good musician, and was born to be King.
Too bad that his family didn’t like him.
As we know, when the prophet Samuel came to the house of Jesse, because God told Samuel that a King was going to be in Jesse’s house, his Father basically kept David hidden away. I think the Bible lays out the David story pretty well, and I have heard it preached on maybe 20 or 30 times. But I just don’t think the sermons that I’ve heard really get to the heart of who David was or how he interacted with his family.
I believe that the Bible gives us a lot of hints that David did not necessarily really get along with his family. Why do I say this? Because we either find that David is being hid by his father, and the one time we see him interacting with his brother, we see a brother that basically flies off the handle and immediately starts to trash talk David. Also, his Dad had a big family with a lot of brothers. We never see them after his youngest years. If David and the rest of his family was close, one of David’s brothers would have shown up somewhere in history when David takes over the Kingdom.
Jesse’s family is a bit like Jacob’s family. In the same way that Joseph was not liked by his brothers, I believe the Bible hint that David was not liked by his brothers. The difference is that Jacob loved Joseph. In contrast, in Jesse’s household, it was everybody against David.
So, Samuel shows up at Jesse’s homestead one day, and he announces “Hey, Jesse, one of your sons is going to be the future King.” After going through all the brothers, Jesse basically hides the fact that David is even there. Do you really think that Jesse didn’t have any conception that David could be the one? Do you really think that Jesse just “forgot” about David because he was small?
No, when David comes in from the field, we find a good looking kid. There are no words about David being small or not looking like a King. Instead, the Bible says he was a handsome young guy.
What Jesse says has to be the lamest excuse in the world. When none of his other sons are called out by Samuel as the King, he says, “Oh, I forgot one, he not here, he’s looking after the sheep.”
This is obviously just an excuse. When Samuel shows up, Jesse basically starts thinking to himself, “I have never liked David, and I really don’t think that he is ever going to amount to anything.” Jesse likes the rest of his boys. He has them hanging around the tents, shooting the breeze, and making jokes. The rest of the brothers really don’t like David, and they give him the title of errand boy.
“David, go tend the sheep,” they say.
“David, go bring us some water,” they say.
“David, go deliver some food to your brothers,” they say.
So Samuel shows up, and is going down the list and he is coming up empty. Do really think that Jesse is not aware that he have one more son? I bet that Jesse was pretty sure that one of his more favored sons was going to show up as the King. They probably came up in front of Samuel, and Jesse would brag a bit on his boys.
“This one is very smart,” he would say. “He got the local merchant to lower his price to us.”
“This one is very handsome,” he would say. “He already has all the women swooning over him.”
So these boys keep showing up, and Samuel kept saying “next!”
Somewhere, and I don’t know if it was at the beginning or as they started to get toward the end, Jesse would have started to suspect that David could be the one. If Jesse had any warm feeling toward David, he would have at least invited him to the tent when Samuel showed up. Imagine if Billy Graham or Rick Warren was coming over to you house. Wouldn’t you want all of your kids to meet him? If you loved your kids you would.
Instead, Jesse knows that David is out in the fields, and he doesn’t even tell somebody to go get him. I suspect that this is well known by Jesse, and as he gets to the end of the line, he starts to realize that David could be the one. Oh, he must have been crushed. Here’s the odd boy. The one that everybody picks on, and something could be going the wrong way. The one that he dismissed is actually the one that God is choosing.
Jesse wants this to not be the case so much that when Samuel runs out of boys, he has to probe and asked Jesse point blank, “Wait, you showed me everybody?” Jesse is probably tempted to lie. Instead, he comes up with the worst excuse ever.
“Uh, we got somebody tending sheep,” he says. I am sure he is broadcasting that this means that this son is far away, and its going to take time to find him. He is trying to do anything in his power to keep David out of the picture.
Now, if we can trust the majority text, Samuel now pops out a surprisingly strong statement.
“Listen guys, nobody sits down until he arrives,” he states.
This is where we read between the lines. Jesse was hiding something, and he gave this weak excuse that it was too inconvenient for them to wait for David because, “He’s off in the field somewhere.”
I think Samuel was actually a little pissed by this time. He had to dig around with Jesse to find out why he didn’t have the last son. When Jesse confesses he has been holding out on Samuel, Samuel gets pissy back and he says, “Okay, you twit, tell you what. We are just going to stand here until your last boy comes in. You don’t get to sit. You don’t get to relax. We are standing because you held out on me.”
So, what was David like? I think we know that people don’t change a lot in life. We know a lot about David because of the way that he acted, and things that he did.
*He was a crack shot with his sling. He probably was constantly flinging stuff to get better.
*He certainly wasn’t stupid. We find out that David was so good with his sling that he felt confident enough to go after a bear and a lion. He felt confident enough that he felt he could take down Goliath.
*I’ll bet that he pissed off his brothers because he was religious. “Mr. Sing A Song to God,” they would say. He was good at music, so much that everybody that heard him knew he was really good. If Jesse wanted to impress Samuel or offer entertainment, he would have sent for David to sing a song. However, we find out that all of his songs were centered around God. I don’t think he started the Psalm when he was twenty. I think he started composing at a young age. However, the subject was always God. Probably drove his Dad and brothers nuts.
The point about this blog post is don’t over romanticize the characters in the Bible. Even the best of the best, like David, had a dysfunctional family where the Dad really didn’t love the youngest son. Now, I am not saying that we should have dysfunctional families where the Dad doesn’t love all the kids equally, and my wife and I have said that we do love out kids equally and separately because we feel we can’t lose one of them. And I believe this is how God wants our families to be.
However, I am just saying that life is simply not fair. Somewhere along the line, you’ll find somebody or something that is wrong that you can’t fix.
But God can.
So, be your own person. Polish your slingshot skills, for whatever your slingshot might be. And don’t be afraid of showing a little Love about God, even if your family or friends don’t understand you.
God will seek you out, and bless you, in this life or the next, by being true to what God has called you to do.
You will be called in from the fields.