The Anointed Shepherd
1 Samuel 16:12
And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and with of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said…

Not a few of the most impressive characters of Scriptures come before us its adult strength. Abraham, Elijah, the apostles, lived an unrecorded youth. Not so wish David. When we see him, ruddy from the fold, bow to receive the holy chrism from the hand of Samuel, he is alert with the grace and comely with the beauty of youth. Hence much of the spell his story has cast upon the young of all the ages. Now look at —

I. YOUNG DAVID'S HOME. His mother's name is untold. But, as we might expect, she was a godly woman, "Thy handmaid," as David could say in prayer to God. His father Jesse was an old man in David's youth (1 Samuel 17:12). With seven brothers and two sisters, Zeruiah and Abigail, he was apparently the youngest of them all. The companionship that failed him with his much older brothers he probably found with his sisters' sons — Joab, Abishai, Asahel, and Amuse — who would be to him more like cousins than nephews. His father was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, the Moabitess. Jesse was not like Boaz, a "mighty man of wealth." He kept no servant, as far as appears in the record. His flocks were "a few sheep." In much solitude, though one of many children, and meeting little appreciation — though surely the mother must have read some great promise in her youngest son! — grew David. To and fro, between his home and flock, he went, and the simple people of Bethlehem little imagined that he was to make their own town famous through all lands, and to be to men of all ages one of their holiest and most helpful teachers. Who can forecast the destiny of the children we meet, the children of our homes? A future is before each of them; it may be of lowly usefulness, if not of eminence. And the thought even of young David, to whom, it seems, small appreciation gathered, will give point to our Lord's solemn warning, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones."

II. DAVID'S OCCUPATION. It was that of a mountain shepherd. The shepherds of Bethlehem — which stood on a rugged ridge of the hill country of Judah with deep gorges eastward to the Dead Sea and westward to the Philistine plain — had to keep their sheep amid no ordinary difficulties. Every Syrian shepherd's life was one of exposure and privation. Alertness and courage needed in the shepherd were found in David. Much alone, toiling as humble youth among humble men, not a day but by the work of his hands, his companionships, his perils, he was being prepared to be the shepherd of a nation. And because he was faithful over a few things — feeding sheep, nursing lambs, going after the lost, fighting back the thief — God purposed to make him ruler over many things. However lowly our station and inconspicuous our toil, we are to be faithful in it. Our business may be small, but it is big enough to be faithful in.

III. DAVID'S ENDOWMENTS. Though not of commanding stature like Saul, he was endowed with uncommon beauty. Dwelling among a dark-complexioned, black-locked people, "he was ruddy," "cherry cheeked," as an old English writer calls him, or, according to the rendering of the ancient versions, auburn-haired. David was endowed with the poet-soul. The experiences of his shepherd occupation coloured many of his Psalms. The value of David's great musical and poetic gift to himself must not be overlooked. But not because of his physical beauty or poetic genius was David chosen to the throne. It was because of his true and holy character. "From a child he knew the Holy Scriptures," a portion of them consisting of but little more than the Pentateuch. His delight was in them; they were his meditation day and night. His heart was right with God. He was "glad in the Lord" With radiant piety he went to daily duty and through it. "He carolled to his fleecy care." He was not the less but the more manly for his piety. Wild beasts found in him their victor. And the violent robber retreated before this young but valiant man of war. His heart was right and so his life was right for duty or danger. The Lord looketh on the heart. Then what does He see in us? The "heart right with God" is the grand essential to all valuable and enduring service to our generation. Where God looks let us look. Let our heart be right, and then though our intentions, motives, conduct, may be questioned and maligned by men all will be well with us, God Himself will vindicate and reward us in that great day when the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed.

IV. DAVID'S ANOINTING. When David comes before us in the sacred record it is to be anointed by aged Samuel, last and purest of the judges. Thus the obscure shepherd lad, the menial of his father's family, first meets us in history. Anointed! Did that family know the meaning of the rite? Prudential reasons would conceal it from them. Did David know? Most likely not. But he knew that God's favour was on him, and that of some kind, a great future was before him. He was not impatient; for it. He would prepare for it; by study of God's law, in which he may henceforth have received instruction from Samuel, whose home (for there were several Ramahs) was, very likely, not many miles away; by still tending his sheep he would also prepare for it. When the great future comes it will know where to find him. In the faithful discharge of daily duties every Christian man is preparing for heaven's glorious future. He is being trained up for an eternal, if not a temporal throne.

(G. T. Coster.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

WEB: He sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful face, and goodly to look on. Yahweh said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he."

The Anointed of the God of Jacob
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