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An Unlikely King

One of the things I love about the Bible is how honestly it describes its characters. People are presented not as superhuman examples of faith but shown with their weaknesses on display. We read about their mistakes – some small, some very costly. We see their good intentions and false starts.

This summer at Mountainview, we will be look at the flawed life of one of the Bible’s best known characters – David.

The life of King David is an authentic example of what it means to follow God in a flawed yet passionate manner. The first time David appears in Scripture he is a young man. Here’s what we learn from the story:

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

To understand the importance of this story – and David’s life in general – you have to back-up a bit in the history of Israel. They had been led by Moses, then Joshua, then a series of judges and prophets. This period spans nearly 400 years.

Noticing that other nations had kings instead of prophets and judges, the Israelites began demanding a king.

This culminates with God giving them what they asked for and having the prophet Samuel anoint Saul as the first King of Israel.

Here’s a free side note: Be CAREFUL what you ask for — God just might give it to you!

Saul’s reign started with great promise and ended in disaster. 1 Samuel 15 ends with this line:

And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

This brings us to David and how he is anointed as the next King of Israel. Here’s how Samuel recounts the story in 1 Samuel 16 …

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

We have the same problem. We usually see God’s guidance better in hindsight than in the moment. Even Samuel did not know what God was doing.

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Professional marketers understand this tendency very well. Why have cereal manufacturers changed their packaging but not their products?

God is saying to Samuel, “How something is wrapped doesn’t always show us what’s on the inside. Yet we do this all the time.

Look at this next picture and tell me, which one would you let babysit your kids?


8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

The word youngest can also be translated as smallest or least.

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah. — 1 Samuel 16:1-13

What do we learn from this story?

God does not practice random selection. David didn’t win the lottery. It wasn’t his lucky day. In fact, you’d be mistaken if you thought this story represents the beginning of his relationship with God.

Personally, I’m glad God does not act on a whim or fly by the seat of his pants. He is intentional and acts on purpose.

God chooses those who are ready and reliable. David had been using his  time as a shepherd to prepare himself. Don’t miss this leadership principle: David was doing a job often assigned to servants.

He had learned how to trust God when faced with danger. It was the shepherd’s job to protect the flock.

Be open to unlikely opportunities. One of the key words in this chapter is the word LOOK. Over and over, God instructs Samuel to not rely on his human sense of what is possible – or even likely.

When we only focus on what is humanly possible, we are ruling out the things that God makes possible.

In 1999, the then St. Louis Rams signed QB Trent Green to a $17 million contract and had high hopes for their season. That changed in the third preseason game. Green took a hit to the knee and was out for the rest of the season.

Taking his place was a backup QB who 4 years earlier was stocking shelves at an Iowa grocery store.

No one expected much from Kurt Warner. 41 touchdown passes later, Kurt Warner led the Rams to the Superbowl title and was selected as the MVP.

Our world is filled with stories like this. The overwhelming majority of them are not displayed at the Super Bowl but in homes, offices, and classrooms.

If you will be ready and reliable and open to unlikely opportunities, God will use you to make a difference.


God delights in raising people from obscurity. This is most evident in Jesus Christ.

He was born to average parents and raised in an insignificant town. “Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The prophet Isaiah predicted he wouldn’t be handsome or charismatic.

God sent the most unlikely Savior to save the most unlikely people!

Experience and Background

  • Professor at Warner University
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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