Some of the greatest world leaders were born in virtual obscurity, completely unknown and without any special preparation. And yet, when God appoints a man or woman to lead, there's no stopping what can be accomplished for His glory. Mark offers a few opening remarks to help set the stage for the unfolding of David's dramatic story. The title of today's message is, Though he was of little consequence physically speaking, his heart testified to a deep faithfulness to the Lord. During those long and lonely years he spent watching the sheep, David remained faithful in the little things of life.
Little then, but big for the building of his character. Today we will see that God was ready to give him tremendous responsibilities, beyond anything he could have ever imagined. Turn with me to the first 13 verses of 1 Samuel 16, which provide the backdrop for David's introduction into the text of Scripture. 1 Samuel 16 will begin reading at verse 1.
For I have selected a king for myself among his sons. But Samuel said, How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take a heifer with you and say, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do.
And you shall anoint for me the one I designate to you. So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him, and said, Do you come in peace? He said in peace, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.
Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. He also consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. When they entered, he looked at Eliab, and thought, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance, or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.
For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, The Lord has not chosen this one either.
Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, The Lord has not chosen this one either. Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, The Lord has not chosen these. And Samuel said to Jesse, Are these all the children?
And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and behold he is tending the sheep. Then Samuel said to Jesse, Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he comes here. So he sent and brought him in.
Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.
And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. This is Insight for Living. For resources designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic, go to insight.org. And now here's Chuck Swindoll to present today's message about a nobody nobody noticed. The year 1809 was a very good year. Of course those that lived that year would not have known it. History has told a story since that time because all of those that lived in 1809 focused their attention in full force on Napoleon as he was marching across Austria. And he took Austria like a fire would take a Kansas wheat field.
Those little hamlets and villages and cities fell into his grip, and all the world began to wonder if all the world would someday fall in his hands. People followed him from Trafalgar to Waterloo as Napoleon left his mark on this world. Now during that same period of time, little babies were born in Britain and in America, but who cared about babies and bottles and cribs and cradles while Napoleon was doing his thing in Austria?
Well frankly someone should have cared. Listen to the list of names of those born in 1809. William Gladstone was born in Liverpool. Alfred Tennyson began his life in Lincolnshire. Oliver Wendell Holmes cried out for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A few miles away in Boston, Edgar Allen Poe began his brief and tragic sojourn on earth. A physician named Dr. Darwin along with his wife named their son Charles Robert Darwin. Robert Charles Winthrop wore his first diapers in 1809.
And in a little country log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, a little cabin owned by an illiterate laborer, he and his wife named their little boy Abraham Lincoln. But who cared? While Napoleon was moving through Austria, who cared about babies?
Well when you stop and think of the writings and the lives of those statesmen and poets and thinkers, I think you'd agree that their little lives marked the genesis of an era. But nobody cared about those nobodies. And the strange thing about it all is that only a few strange history buffs could even name one battle that Napoleon fought in Austria today. But there is not a life represented here who has not been touched in some way by the lives of those men that I've just named.
Nobodies, nobody noticed. If you and I had been Jews living in the year 1020 BC, the same kind of experience would have been ours. All of our attention would have focused upon a man named Saul, who was the Napoleon of his day. King Saul was the focal point of the Jewish world. He was the king.
He was taking the country by storm. However, if you know your Bible history, you know that about that time, a nobody was keeping the sheep of his father along the Judean hillside near the hamlet of Bethlehem. A little boy that nobody noticed by the name of David. Now if you can appreciate what we're reading this evening in the 15th chapter of 1 Samuel, then you will come to appreciate how David came to the throne in light of those terrible times that Saul created. You see, Saul had been a king for a number of years, in fact several decades, until finally he tipped his hand and he revealed to the Lord as well as to the people that he wasn't qualified. He was a willful, selfish, angry, hateful, in fact, murderous king.
Something snapped in his mind and as he ended the years of his kingship, he proved himself unqualified for the job. I want you to read verse 24 down almost to the end of the 15th chapter of 1 Samuel, and I want you to sort of get into the swing of this context in which David is chosen. Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned. Now you must understand that Samuel has caught Saul in three awful acts of disobedience.
He made a terrible decision in chapter 13. He made a rash vow against his own son in chapter 14. In chapter 15, he did not obey God and he preserved some of the enemies as well as some of the sheep. And when Samuel pointed his finger at Saul, Saul finally, after he tried to rationalize around it, Saul finally admitted, I am guilty.
But you'll notice how he qualified it. I have sinned. I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now, therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may worship the Lord.
If you're not into this, you can't appreciate what he just asked. Saul was greatly concerned about his image. You see, he had been alone where this act of disobedience had taken place. But he was going to go back before the people and he didn't want the people to know that he had sinned. So he said, Samuel, why don't you come on with me and nobody will know that I've disobeyed.
You just return and let's worship together like we've always done. His greatest concern was his image. There are a lot of people like that today.
I'll say more about that in a moment. Just look at Samuel's words. Samuel said to Saul, 26, I will not return with you for you've rejected the word of the Lord and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe and it tore. And Samuel said to him, the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you.
And also the glory of Israel will not lie or change his mind for he is not a man that he should change his mind. Then he said, now note Saul, note his rationalization, he said, I have sinned but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel and go back with me that I may worship the Lord your God. Look, Samuel, you've caught me in the act.
I've confessed it privately. Now why don't you come on back with me that I might worship and we'll go right on as if nothing happened. Now the grace of Samuel is seen in the next verse. Samuel went back following Saul and Saul worshiped the Lord.
Drop down to verse 34. Then Samuel went to Ramah but Saul went up to his home at Gibeah of Saul and Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death. Samuel was a man of integrity. He saw that Saul had failed God and he said to Saul, I won't humiliate you before the people.
I'll go back and I'll go through the ritual of this sacrificial act of worship. But Saul, that's the last day I want to see you. And he went home in one direction, if you check your geography, and Saul went home in another direction and they never met again until the day of his death. And the tragic story of Saul as it's going to be woven into the life of David is that Saul never ever fully repented of his sin.
His greatest concern was his image, how he looked before the people. And when Samuel gave him a break, Saul took advantage of it and continued in that same vein until the day he took his life in a suicide. Now Samuel panics about this point.
And I've given you a chart to follow this evening which you may want to look on to as we go through it. And we've called this section of the passage, Man Panics, God Provides. Samuel is at the end of his rope. The people have elected Saul and he's no longer qualified. What are the people going to do? They need a king to lead them. There are enemies all around Israel.
They need someone to carry the scepter. And Samuel didn't know what God was doing. God is never at a loss to know what he's going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is we don't know. And we say to him, Lord, if you just tell me like you told Samuel, then I'll be in great shape.
Just reveal it to me. Just talk to me and I'll count on you. But that's not faith. Faith is counting on him when you do not know what tomorrow holds. Faith is doing just what Samuel had to do. It says in verse 35, he was panicked.
In our words, he grieved over Saul and the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. Now the Lord said to Samuel, now before we go to verse 1, I think there's a span of time that takes place between the last of chapter 15 and the first of chapter 16. We don't know how long.
Maybe a week, maybe three weeks, maybe a month and a half. However long, Samuel is in a period of grief and he can't seem to get over it. Maybe he got alone in his home at Ramah and he just never got out and mingled with the people. He just sort of held up there and got on his knees and wept and waited and nothing opened up. Samuel felt that God somehow was not involved. By the way, when a man of God fails, nothing of God fails. When a man of God changes, such as Saul, nothing of God changes. When our lives are marked by a change, an alteration that was not expected, nothing of God is altered or unexpected.
He knows exactly what he's going to do. That's the beautiful part of this passage. Look at how the Lord reveals himself to Samuel. He says to Samuel, how long will you grieve over Saul since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?
Fill your horn with oil and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have selected a king for myself among his sons. Isn't it true? Isaiah says, before they call, I will answer and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65, 24. Before they even utter a word, God says, I'm involved in answering. In fact, while they are speaking, I'm involved in bringing to pass the very thing I want. Tonight, some of you doubt that.
I can tell by that who me look on some of your faces this evening. You have sensed before this kind of message, but you're really beginning to wonder if it's going to happen. Tonight, will you see that God said to Samuel, I've already got my man. When he mentioned Jesse the Bethlehemite, that's the first notice Samuel had that God had zeroed in on one person.
J. Oswald Sanders in his book, Spiritual Leadership, writes it this way. When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, when God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part, when he yearns with all his heart to create so great and bold a man, that all the world shall be amazed, watch God's methods, watch his ways, how he ruthlessly perfects whom he royally elects, how he hammers him and hurts him and with mighty blows converts him into trial shapes of clay, which only God understands while his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands how God bends but never breaks when his good he undertakes, how he uses whom he chooses and with every purpose fuses him by every act induces him to try his splendor out. God knows what he's about. Now it's a great message in that poem if it were only somebody else. That's wonderful, Chuck, because it applies to somebody but me.
No, it applies to you. God knows what he's about. Samuel's here this evening. Who wonder what that Bethlehemite might be in your life? He said to Samuel, you go to that home in Bethlehem, I've got my man already chosen.
I think it's so exciting how it unfolds. He said, I've selected a king for myself. The people haven't chosen this man, he's my man. Verse 2, but Samuel said, how can I go?
Does this sound familiar? God says, go. And we say, right.
And then before we're off our knees, we're saying, now wait, Lord, how can we pull that off? What was his problem? Well, he was panicked. He said, when Saul hears of it, he will kill me. Where were Samuel's eyes? They were not on the Lord. Question, who is bigger, Saul or God? It's a dumb question, isn't it?
In fact, that's a dumb question, how can I go? Saul's alive. God knew that Saul was alive. That wasn't any great revelation. You know, we occasionally feel we must inform the Lord of what he might not realize. And our prayer lives are often given to explaining to the Lord something that he doesn't get together.
And we have no right to do that. He knows where he's directing us, and it's not going to be easy. He knew that Saul was alive, how can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me. By the way, from the human viewpoint, he was right, Saul was murderous.
He was the one that God used to shape David's life in the in-between years, between the sheep and the throne. But he knew Saul. You got a Saul in your life?
Good question, huh? You got somebody that God uses just to irritate and rub and file and scrape and sting you? That's all part of the drilling and the thrilling and the skilling of the man we just read. God knows you have a Saul in your life. It's all part of the plan. The Lord said to him, look, he doesn't even answer about Saul.
That's beautiful. Such a petty thing, he doesn't even bother to give an answer. He says, just take a heifer with you and say, I've come to sacrifice to the Lord. You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice. I will show you what you shall do. You shall anoint for me the one whom I designate to you. Follow the leader.
That's what he's saying. You don't even have to be smart to be obedient. You don't. You don't have to be clever. All you got to do is what God says.
I think we have to be smart. And we've sort of got to outwit God in the horizontal. But God says, I know your situation. I'm telling you exactly what you ought to do and do it. Take a heifer, go to Jesse, offer the sacrifice, and look around.
I'll tell you the man I've got. Isn't that simple? By the way, behind the scenes, there's David.
And I think this is the neatest part of the story. David doesn't know anything about what Saul and Samuel and God are talking about over here on the other side of the country. What's David doing? He's keeping the sheep. That's his job. In fact, F.B.
Myers says it this way. No angel trumpet heralded it. No faces looked out of heaven. The sun arose that morning like any other morning over the purple walls of the hills of Moab, making the cloud curtains saffron and gold, with the first glimmer of light, the boy was on his way to lead his flock to pasture lands, heavy with dew. As the morning hours sped onwards, many duties would engross his watchful soul, strengthening the weak, healing that which was sick, binding up that which was broken, and seeking that which was lost, or the music of his song may have filled the listening air.
That was David. Just like any other morning, just like tomorrow morning will be, he just began his day just like any other time, but little did he know he was destined for the throne. God has some extremely exciting things in mind for his children. For some, it'll happen tomorrow.
For some, it'll happen perhaps the beginning of next month. We don't know. But the beautiful thing about this adventure called faith and living in fellowship with God, walking with Christ, is that we can count on him never to lead us astray. He knows exactly where he's taking us. Our job is to obey. Now, in verse 4, we sort of have a change of pace. Man chooses and God corrects. This is a great section. I'm sorry that it is so familiar because in the familiarity, we lose some of the freshness.
But let's act like we're reading it for the very first time. So Samuel did what the Lord said. Now you're talking, Samuel.
That's what we have to do. He did just what God said. He got a heifer and he went to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem. He came to Bethlehem and the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, Do you come in peace? By the way, there was a real fear stretching across the land at that time.
You see, there were problems in the Oval Office. And knowing there were problems up there, the people in the countryside were uneasy, even when a prophet came to visit. What's Samuel doing here? Why is Samuel coming to Bethlehem?
Do you come in peace? What's wrong? What's happening? It's kind of like a CIA agent knocking on your front door, that type of thing.
Or the director of the FBI saying, Could we talk this afternoon at your convenience? What's wrong? What's happened? Here's Samuel coming. They don't know it, but to anoint a king, and they're fearful. Verse 5, he said, I come in peace. I've come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. He consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. So here they are in the room.
Understand, they don't know what's going to happen. Not even Samuel knows which one it's going to be. And suddenly we get a little bit of insight into what Samuel is thinking. See, verse 6, came about as they entered that he looked at Eliab and thought, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.
Now wait, Eliab looks like the guy you'd normally choose for a king. But you see, what Samuel did not see was the character of Eliab. He didn't see, as we will see in that 17th chapter, that Eliab was given to a petty vision. He was critical. He was negative. He looked down on his brother. He didn't view God's hand in the situation.
He saw everything from the flesh. Samuel has yet to make his selection, and there's much more of his story to learn. Let me urge you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called, A Nobody Nobody Noticed, referring of course to the obscure shepherd boy named David. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. And then, on coming programs, we'll discover how David's appointment to king of Israel became a marvelous model for leaders. Along those lines, Chuck handpicked a book to coincide with this current biographical study. It's called, Hand Me Another Brick.
The Bible has a lot to say about leadership and how to work through struggles. No matter your particular role, Chuck's book called, Hand Me Another Brick, will help you learn how to size up a task, organize and motivate a team, and respond to the inevitable obstacles along the way. To purchase a copy, go to insight.org slash offer, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
Chuck's book is called, Hand Me Another Brick. Insight for Living relies on your personal support to make these daily programs, not only on your local radio station, but on a variety of channels that make learning more about the Bible easily accessed by people everywhere. This includes, of course, a smartphone app, the internet, and even a free daily devotional that comes through email. We provide these free resources because it's our goal, our mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all 195 countries of the world. Know then that when you give a donation to Insight for Living, you're not only sending out God's word in nine languages throughout these various avenues, but you're also encouraging leaders all over the world. So as you sense God is prompting you, we invite you to respond by giving a gift. To give a donation today, just give us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or give online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about David, a nobody that nobody noticed, tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, a nobody nobody noticed, was copyrighted in 1977, 1988, 1997, 2009, and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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