The Unlikely People God Chooses: David the Shepherd Boy
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Rev. Sandy Johnson
August 14, 2016
Today begins our new sermon series on the life of David. A shepherd boy, mercenary, musician, adulterer, murderer and king. For the next six weeks we will be studying his life and gleaning the lessons we can for use in our lives today. David is one of my favorite biblical characters because he the most unlikely person to be called by God to do anything, but he is exactly who God calls and the lessons that we can learn are rich.
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Oskar Schindler was a Roman Catholic businessman, a spy, and a member of the German Nazi Party. You may remember his story from the popular movie from 1993, “Schindler’s List.” Oskar Schindler was an unlikely hero during World War II. He was a greedy man who took advantage of the war efforts in his factories, getting rich in the process. He was most interested in the financial gains to be made as a result of the war and hired Jews because they were cheaper than Poles, due to the wages set by the Nazi Party.
As the war unfolded, he became an unlikely humanitarian. “In the fall of 1941 the Nazis began transporting Jews out of the ghetto. Most were sent to an extermination camp and killed. On March 13, 1943 the ghetto was liquidated and those still fit for work were sent to the new concentration camps. Several thousand not deemed fit for work were sent to extermination camps and killed. Hundreds more were killed on the streets by the Nazis as they cleared out the ghetto. Schindler, aware of the planned action because of his contacts, had his workers stay at the factory overnight to prevent them from coming to any harm.
He witnessed personally the liquidation of the ghetto and was appalled. From that point forward, Schindler, “changed his mind about the Nazis. He decided to get out and to save as many Jews as he could.”” He protected them from deportation and certain death in the concentration camps by keeping them employed. He used his own money to pay bribes, to purchase needed food, clothing and supplies from the black market in order to keep his workers healthy and alive.
He is most known for the list he made, the list of Jews who worked for him and that he protected them from death. He was transformed from a man full of greed to a man willing to give his all to save lives. He is quoted as saying, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” God used a greedy, self-centered businessman to save 1200 lives. Who would have imagined.
At the close of the war he was bankrupt. It is estimated he spent over $1 million of his own money on his employees and he was left destitute. After the war he tried to move on in his life, but was unable to find his place. He was chronically in debt, suffered several bankruptcies and developed a drinking problem. His marriage failed and he was “reduced to receiving assistance from Jewish organizations.”
He survived on donations from the very people he protected during the war. Oskar Schindler is buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honored in this way. He received the Righteous Among the Nations award from the State of Israel for his work to save Jews during the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler, an unlikely hero.
I love that God uses so many “unlikely’s.” You know the ones, those who are most likely to fail. Those whose deck is stacked against them. They don’t appear to have what it takes to make much of their lives, but God has a different plan. God has eyes that sees into the hearts of all of us so that it is God who selects us for our most important assignments. It is God who puts aside common sense perhaps and selects the unlikely.
David is another unlikely hero. He is the youngest brother and has stood in the shadows of his seven older brothers all of his life. Let’s go back a minute and start at the beginning of our story today. The prophet Samuel was called by God to go to Bethlehem to find the next king. King Saul was on his way out and God called on his prophet Samuel to identify the next King, telling him that one of Jesse’s sons is to be king.
Samuel was fearful that he will be killed by Saul when he finds out what he is up to. But God encouraged him and invited him to take a sacrifice with him to offer as a decoy from the real reason for the visit. Samuel meets Jesse and asks him to bring his sons to meet him. He is sure that the oldest will be the one God chooses. He is understandably confused when God tells him not to look only at his appearance.
Before Samuel stands Eliab who is the oldest, most likely and most ready for the job. He appears to be quite capable, he was mature and experienced. But God had a different plan. God looks on the heart. This oldest son of Jesse was not to be king. So Jesse parades his other sons, one at a time, past the prophet Samuel. Each one he sees as a potential king, but God does not choose any of them. Surely there has been a mistake. God told Samuel that he would choose one of Jesse’s sons, but none are selected.
This sort of reminds me of Cinderella – you know when the prince comes looking for the petite footed woman that owns the glass slipper? Is there someone else in the home? Who is missing from the line up? It is then that Jesse remembers his youngest, David, the shepherd who is out tending the flock.
Samuel says they will stand at the ready until David is brought to them. He’s not leaving until everyone is tested. Here comes David. Although God has cautioned against looking at appearances, scripture says “he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.” Here this young man, flushed from hurrying to meet with the prophet, is cast into the most important role of his time, as King of Israel. God spoke, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”
Samuel did as instructed. He anointed David with oil that he had brought with him and “the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.” I have to wonder what David was thinking after all of these events took place. Did he have an inkling that this was going to happen? Or did it come as a complete surprise. I imagine that he felt a bit awkward in front of his brothers in particular that they had been overlooked and their baby brother was chosen. This was so contrary to the customs of the day.
He was a shepherd for goodness sakes. He lived with the sheep, he was dirty and smelly. He had no relevant work experience that had prepared him to be king. He was still a boy. But God saw David’s heart and knew this was the future king. God sees the potential in us that lies hidden in our hearts. I think very often God calls us and we are taken by surprise, so sure that we can’t really be used in the manner God intends. We want to second guess God and tell God all the reasons that’s he’s wrong, we want to tell God why we aren’t suited for the task he has for us.
We want to judge ourselves and others around us, as unlikely, unprepared or unworthy. But God can see into our hearts. He knows what we are capable of, he knows how we can best be used by God to further God’s kingdom. If we come to understand that it is God’s way to select those least likely people, those who don’t appear to have what it takes to be the best of the best, then we can all kneel down and receive the anointing God has for us.
And all the times when we think that we can somehow pull the wool over God’s eyes about what we are capable of, we should just forget it. God sees through all of our ruses and sees into our heart. God proves again and again that it is the unlikely heroes that he prefers. Gideon, Rahab, Moses, Paul, Joseph, Esther. “The bible is full of an unlikely cast of characters being raised up by God, and doing great things…AND…I love the fact that I’m also an unlikely!”
When God called me, I was a woman with a failed business, whose previous life had centered on sex, drugs and rock and roll. I was hardly the pastoral type. One of my girlfriend’s husband in fact said that he didn’t think I was suited to be a pastor. He had heard my irreverence first hand, my potty mouth. He was absolutely right, I wasn’t the pastoral type. God didn’t bother with the external qualities, those things that my friends could see. He focused on my heart, he knew something none of us knew. Something that was a mystery even to me. Apparently I was exactly what he was looking for to lead a community of sinners to grace.
Sisters and brothers, we are all unlikely heroes in each other’s eyes. But God sees our hearts and is asking us to serve. We must stop questioning God and graciously accept the calling he has on our lives. The calling to serve in new and exciting ways. The calling to care for one another. The calling to make our city a better place, with Christ’s help and God’s divine blessing. “The Lord looks at the heart of each of us here this morning and history shows that we’re just the type of clay that feels right in the potter’s hand.”
Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we thank you for your wise ways. We thank you for the model you have given us in King David. Give us the courage to look deep in our heart and to boldly ask you how you would like to use us today. How can we be the hands and feet of Christ in Boulder City? Our servants are willing and waiting. Amen.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Schindler , accessed August 12, 2016
 1 Samuel 16:12a
 1 Samuel 16:12b
 1 Samuel 16:13