Tending the Sheep
One of my favorite facets of the story of David centers around 1 Samuel 16, the anointing of David by the prophet Samuel. The Lord sends Samuel to the family of Jesse. After looking over seven of the possible future kings Samuel asks, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
He is tending the sheep. David is doing what he does every day. He is doing his job. Imagine just being at work, and then you are called home to be anointed the king over an entire nation. Keep in mind, there is already a king, but this guy, that speaks for God, says you will be the new king. There is oil poured, powerful words shared, and then David…
Goes back to tending the sheep.
A few verses later, and an ironic turn of events, we read, “Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, ‘Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.’”
I need that reality in my life. I tend to get this picture of huge things happening and gravitate toward overnight success stories. The idea that, after this big deal happens, David goes back to the same ole same ole both challenges and comforts me.
A couple of years ago we moved from Nashville to Austin. I had worked full time since moving back to Nashville after college and this move gave us the opportunity for me to be patient and take my time finding a new job. Twenty-four hours after we moved I applied for several jobs. I was immediately faced with the “what’s next” syndrome. I struggled to just be. To do laundry. To just take care of the kids. I didn’t know how to just tend the sheep. Or more, I was defiant in resting in my season of tending the sheep.
It was in David’s time as a shepherd we later discover God was preparing him.
As David presses to attack Goliath Saul scoffs:
“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:33-37)
The times we feel the most like nothing is happening may be better viewed as a time of preparation, or for some, a time of rejuvenation til the next season. Samuel saw the full picture of David’s story, so a little more time serving in the fields didn’t concern him. What’s next will arrive, but the question is, will you use where you are now, the field and flock you currently tend, to allow God to prepare you?