Jesse of Bethlehem
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the
sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he
is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down
until he arrives.”
1 Samuel 16:10-11
When David was a boy, he must not have rated very high in his family’s expectations. For proof of that fact, all you need to do is to re-read the verses quoted above.
In Indonesia my wife and I once knew a teenager who seemed painfully shy. We can remember only a few times when he ever took part in a Bible class or a youth fellowship or a worship service. To our utter surprise, this bashful boy has grown up into a young preacher who worked his way through seminary. He is now an independent-minded church-planter who has dared to go into parts of his native land that are hostile to Christianity.
In Indonesia my wife and I also met a young woman who seemed to us rather weak and shallow as a Christian. We thought of her as being flighty and undependable. To our surprise she has blossomed into a staunch Bible-school teacher.
Our reaction to all of this has veered between joy and amazement. Do you suppose old Jesse of Bethlehem must have felt much the same way when his lightly-regarded youngest son was chosen to become the Lord’s anointed?
Read an imaginative reconstruction of Jesse’s thoughts in this Bible-based poetic meditation:
We trembled when the old man came,
we simple folk of Bethlehem.
With horn of oil and calf in tow,
would Samuel bring us joy or woe?
The old man said, “I come in peace
to offer God a sacrifice.
Get ready, once we’ve killed the beast,
to join the sacrificial feast.”
The old man asked about my sons.
I called them forth by two’s and one’s
to pass before his piercing eyes
before we ate the sacrifice.
I saw the old man view with joy
Eliab – he’s my oldest boy.
But then he frowned and shook his head.
“That’s not the one,” he slowly said.
Abinadab then came in sight.
The old man said, “That’s still not right.”
Full seven sons before him passed;
he shook his head from first to last.
What was the old man looking for?
An acolyte to train in lore,
to aid with ceremonial task?
I wondered when he turned to ask:
“Are these the only sons you have?”
What could the man be thinking of?
Why must he take the time to see
each male heir in my family?
“There’s still the youngest,” then I said.
“He’s yonder where the sheep are fed.”
The old man said, “Go call him in;
until he’s here, we won’t begin.”
I sent a servant on his way
to find my youngest boy and say,
“Come quickly at your father’s call!”
The old man then surprised us all:
He touched those tousled locks of red
and poured his oil on David’s head.
So that was how it all began:
My youngest marked for God’s great plan.
Gracious Lord, deliver us from lack of faith, so that we may believe You can still work wonders with unlikely material! Amen.
Copyright © 2014 by Perry Thomas