The definition of a process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. Everyone goes through a different process in order to get to where God wants them to be. Abraham became the Father of Faith through a process. Jacob became Israel though a process. Ruth ended in the genealogy of Jesus Christ through a process. David became king of Israel through a process. Saul became Paul, the Apostle who wrote majority of the books in the New Testament, through a process. Before a car becomes a car, it has to go through a process. And the process has to follow a particular order otherwise, it will not stand the test of time. Imagine a house without a good foundation. What do you think will happen? God has a process to get you from one point to another. What he is normally doing through His process is preparing you so that he can move you. Without that preparation, it is difficult to be successful in the next stage in life. Kindergarten is a stepping stone for first grade and first grade for second grade. Without Kindergarten, it is going to be challenging to understand first grade and even more challenging to comprehend the information in second grade and on and on. Simply put, the process that God lays out for you is very important. We will study the story of David before he became king so that we can see how the process of God prepare us?
David went through two stages of preparation. The first stage taught him spiritual matters and the second stage taught him earthly matters. On this post, I will be addressing the first stage he went through; the process God took him through in order for him to learn the spiritual matters. Going through the first process was paramount in order for him to handle the second process because it was more difficult. We will deal with the process before Samuel the prophet anointed him; when no one knew who he was. Even though no one knew what was happening, God was doing something in his life.
Before I start talking about King David, let me talk about the lifecycle of a butterfly.
A butterfly begins its lifecycle with an egg. When the egg hatches, a caterpillar emerges and its only job is to eat. Because of how much it eats, it faces a challenge because its skin does not grow as it grows. Therefore, it has to grow a larger skin underneath its outer skin; a process called molting. It goes through a total of four molts before it moves to the next stage which is the pupa stage. This is where the caterpillar forms a shell around it. It hangs upside down as it is transforming. The most interesting thing is, it may look like nothing is going on but so much is going on inside that hard shell. The body of the caterpillar is transforming into an adult butterfly. Wings and antennae form. Chewing mouthparts of the caterpillar are transformed into sucking mouthparts.
David’s life as a shepherd, before he was anointed, can be compared to the pupa stage of the butterfly. Not even his own brothers and father knew what was happening to him; how God was working in him. His time as a shepherd boy was a time of great preparation. Let study the earlier life of David.
David was a shepherd. The work of a shepherd was not glamorous. Here is just a glimpse of David’s life as a shepherd. Early in the morning, shepherds had to lead the flock from the fold to a spot where the animals were to be pastured. They had to watch the sheep all day and take care that none of them strayed. If any of the sheep wondered away, they had to seek it, find it and bring it back. Sheep required to be supplied with water on a regular basis therefore he had to guide them to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished as troughs. At night, he brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed through the door so as to make sure none was missing. Sometimes the shepherd had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts. Shepherds went through continuous exposure to extreme heat and cold. In Genesis 31:40, Jacob, who was a shepherd told Laban that in the day he was consumed by drought and in the night by frost which caused him sleep deprivation.
Shepherds sometimes ate what was accorded by nature like locusts and wild honey. A shepherd encountered attacks from wild beasts and occasionally lions and bears among other animals. A shepherd was not free from the risk of robbers. In Genesis 31:39, Jacob told Laban “that which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.” The work of a shepherd required great watchfulness particularly at night and tenderness towards the young and feeble. The shepherd wore a sleeveless cloak woven from wool or made from sheepskin for the winter and in the summer, he wore a lighter sleeveless one. He carried a staff, a sling and a skin pouch or bag to keep his belongings. The life of a shepherd was not easy. It was not prestigious. It could also be a life of loneliness. But God used this time in David’s life to prepare him.
Encouragement: God allows us to go through such times so that he can train us; so that we can hear him more; so that we can understand him more.
The first time David is mentioned in scripture is in 1 Samuel 16. We don’t hear anything about him before then. He was being prepared away from people. God does this all the time. Sometimes we wonder how someone ended up in an elevated position. The person seems to have come from nowhere. Let me give you a perfect example found in scripture. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah the Tishbite showed up and told Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before who I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” Elijah existed before this time but he is first mentioned here and the first thing he does is prophesy a drought. God had been preparing him for that time. People don’t just come from nowhere. God prepares and then in His own time, He exalts.
Now let’s examine when David was anointing. God told Samuel to fill a horn with oil and go to Jesse the Bethlehemite and anoint one of his sons. Samuel went to Bethlehem. Jesse and his sons were present at the feast which was at their home. There was only one son left out and that was David. He was in the field looking after sheep. The brothers were probably well dressed and presentable before Samuel. When they started going one by one, God told Samuel that He had not chosen any of them. As last, Samuel asked whether there was another son and he was told yes but he was taking care of sheep. Samuel asked for him and when he came, God told Samuel to anoint David. Realize that David was not presentable. He had the clothing a shepherd wears and he just smelled like sheep.
David had been left out but God had not left him out. The bible says David had a clear complexion, a good eye and a lovely face. His features were extraordinary considering that his employment exposed him to the sun and wind every day. Why, because God had preserved him. God preserves in the wilderness. In Deut. 29:5, the bible states, Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. God preserves. David had an ongoing great relationship with God so that even though he was dressed like a shepherd, he looked good. God had taken care of him supernaturally.
Encouragement: In the midst of harsh conditions, God still takes care of us.
How did God prepare David in his time as a shepherd?
Humility was cultivated in Him
Through God’s process, David had learnt humility. You see the anointing on his head meant he had a divine designation to the government after the death of Saul. It would come to him in due time. It also meant that gifts and graces were given to him fit for the government. Contrast David’s reaction to Joseph’s reaction. Joseph went and told his brother about his dream. Even though it clearly made them unhappy, he went and told them about his second dream. He had not learnt humility yet and he had to go through a process that cultivated humility in him. The fact that David was a shepherd, an undesirable job, it cultivated humility in him. If he was not humble, he would have bragged to his brothers about the anointing of God on His life. Difficulties cultivate humility in our lives. Humility is very important to God. This is why scriptures says he exalts the humble but resists the proud.
David had learnt servant hood
David was a servant. Psalm 89:20 states, “I have found My servant David, with My holy oil I have anointed him,” David had learnt to put the needs of the sheep above his own needs. Can you imagine how many times he had to carry a new born lamb? Can you imagine how far he had to travel sometimes to go and look for water for the sake of the sheep? Can you imagine how many times he had to watch the little lambs being born and what he had to do after that for them to survive? Jesus is a perfect example for us. He chose to walk this earth and die on the cross for us. In Mark 9:35, Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant to all.”
He had learnt a very important skill
1 Samuel 16:14-17 states, Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented and terrified him. Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are here before you to find a man who plays skillfully on the harp; and when the evil spirit from God is on you, he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.” So Saul told his servants, “Find me a man who plays well and bring him to me.” One of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a brave and competent man, a warrior, discerning (prudent, eloquent) in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.”
David was a skilled musician and his gift prepared him to enter Saul’s court. Proverbs 18:16 states, A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” God gives us talents and opportunities we need to accomplish the tasks he has for us.
He had learnt to be brave
He was able to face Goliath because he had killed a lion and a bear. In 1 Samuel 17:34-35, the bible states, “But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and attacked it and rescued the lamb from its mouth; and when it rose up against me, I seized it by its whiskers and struck and killed it.” Life as a shepherd had taught David that he could face any danger without fear. He had seen God rescue him and he knew God was with him even when he faced Goliath. God’s process helps you to be brave. You learn that God is right there with you in times of difficulty and he is able to rescue you. You learn that nothing is impossible with God and you can face the goliath’s you meet on the way with confidence because you know God got you.
David learnt to be wise
When he was anointed, he did not talk about it. Imagine if he went around telling people he was anointed to be king, do you know how much trouble he would have encountered. David needed to learn how to be a king so it was in his best interest to be quiet. Remember earlier on, Samuel had been afraid of going to Bethlehem because if Saul knew what he was up to, he would have killed him. It is important to be slow to speak because when we are quick to speak, we can give out information that needed to stay with us and instead that information is used against us. One day, a friend asked me a question. I did not answer that question in full but I did give her some information. What I did not know was that someone was eavesdropping and that person used that information against me at a later time. And the person did not even hide the fact that she had eavesdropped. Be careful what you say. Ask God to give you wisdom when answering questions.
David had learnt to be long-suffering
Longsuffering is the quiet willingness to accept irritating or painful situation. The harsh weather he experienced as he took care of sheep cultivated longsuffering in him. This would later help him when he had to run away from King Saul. Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit that helps us forgive one another. It helps us not react negatively when bad things have been done to us. Remember David would not kill King Saul.
There are so many other qualities that David learnt like responsibility. He took care of sheep sometimes under difficult circumstances but this taught him responsibility. He also learnt he was important to God and he did not allow his brothers to change his mindset even if they looked down on him. He was a child of God and he understood that very well. He had a love for God because through God’s process, you and I learn to love him. Taking care of sheep had taught him patience and faithfulness in doing the work that had been given to him. Luke 16:10 states, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
God always has a purpose for taking us through a process. We are the clay and He is the potter. Through God’s process, we learn to depend upon him and love him. He renews our mind as he teaches us His Word. He will give us joy which is an inward hope and exuberance in spite of outward circumstances. Don’t give up when going through God’s process. He is right there with you. He has not left you.