I am going to paint a slightly different picture about the period in David’s life that started with Samuel and extends to him meeting Goliath. This period has gotten much attention in the last few years, mainly because picking on Jessie has become popular. I read a morning devotion that rightly said David defeated Goliath because he had a winning attitude. What Brother Prince did not mention was the anointing of David’s life (July 7th in Destined to Reign). God, in His wisdom, did not fill in a lot of details. So, tradition and agenda have stepped in and colored much of this story. Anyway, here is my not-so-traditional view on some of 1 Samuel 16 and 17.
Samuel—The anointing of David was as much of a test for Samuel as it was about replacing Saul. His choosing a different king would not look good on his resume and that resume would try to kill him. It is not too hard to see that Samuel was nervous, and he passed this to Jesse to get his family together quickly for this sacrifice/feast/rebellion against Saul. I would bet that waiting for David to be found and brought in from a distance pasture did not make his morning.
Jesse—Please see the post-Cut Jesse Some Slack. I will go out on a limb here and say that Jesse was not only a man of means but possibly the leader of the tribe of Judah. 1 Chronicles 2 has the family tree of Judah and it runs right to Jesse and his sons. Given that David and Solomon were kings while this was being written/edited, that might make sense. It may also show that Jesse was a tribal leader. There is a difference in the number of sons of Jesse in 1 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. In Samuel, David was the eighth son. In Chronicles, they listed him as number seven. A child dying may account for this difference, but we do not know.
Eliab and the other sons—Eliab is the firstborn, which meant a lot in terms of inheritance and the grooming Jesse would give him to be the leader of the family and possibly the tribe. Chapter 17 has more about his “older brother syndrome”. To be fair to him, it must have been hard to have his baby brother anointed king, in front of him, and he would just lead the family. Jonathan uses him as the excuse for David missing the feast day with King Saul. I am sure it was hard on all the brothers to watch David excel in the things he did because of the anointing. David is out in the field tending the sheep was a family duty that all of them had done in their day. All of them had to go on the run with David as Saul started hunting him down-they joined him in the cave/stronghold.
David—The youngest child of a shepherd. In their day, every son had done his time tending the sheep (Remember Rachel and Moses’ wife); it was part of growing up in a family of shepherds. It seems this task went to the youngest child when they were ready. When this rite of passage occurred may have been different for everyone, but David may have started very early. He could have been as young as twelve at his anointing. (Young men could have publicly read Torah around twelve years old. Bar mitzvah and synagogues were not a thing in Israel during his lifetime.) (Was David a Priest)
My picture really starts here. I believe David was young at his anointing and that there are several years between 1 Samuel 16: 13 and verse 14. Seven to ten years is good for me. That would make David nineteen to early twenties when he entered Saul’s service and faced Goliath. (The marriage offer of Saul’s first daughter comes into my thinking.)
So, what was David doing in these years before he came to Saul’s attention? With the anointing now affecting his life, he would kill the lion and the bear. He learned he was special and could be fearless because he was the “head and not the tail”. The brothers saw and knew that the horn of oil from Samuel had made a difference.
David grew up as a musician. Psalm 23 would reflect these “quiet years” in his life very well. He may have penned Psalm 29 while he sheltered in a field watching his flocks. I see a future king writing Psalm 101 as he wonders about his future life. His thoughts as he tended sheep can be seen in other psalms, like #86.
El Shaddai supplied those years for him to grow. From verse 14 to Goliath continued that learning cycle because David and “his time” was not yet ready. He learned about the duties of a king and the daily life in that environment when he played his harp. As an armourbearer, they trained him in warfare and tactics.
Goliath—To stay with the steps of being trained, Goliath was just the next step up in his lesson cycle of foes. As a shepherd, I can’t think he never battled wolves. But the lion and bear would get everyone’s attention. So, defeating the man-mountain was like Saul rescuing the city of Jabesh Gilead (possibly where his mother’s family came from). These acts put both Saul and David on the map and into the public’s eye. Between the anointing and the years of practice guarding his sheep, Goliath never had a chance. Now extend this to hundreds of men for the bride’s price, saving cities, defeating raiding parties, to entire armies and nations as the king.
David, growing with his anointing from Samuel to defeating Goliath, should remind us that God has His plan and time for each of us to be used.
- Jesus was twelve at the Temple.
- I wonder what the feast was like after Samuel chose David over all of his brothers. Do you think Jesse made him go right back into the fields that day?