Undeclared Royalty
1 Samuel 17:58
And Saul said to him, Whose son are you, you young man? And David answered, I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.

That is a very simple account for a man to give of himself, yet it answered the question which elicited it. Standing before the king, grasping the head of a man who made Israel quake, a nation looking at him, yet he speaks as if a stranger had accosted him in some peaceful retreat of the pasturage! David might have said, "Samuel came to my father's house in search of a king. He passed by my brethren one by one; I was seat for at length from the sheep fold, and Samuel anointed me king of Israel. Behold in this bleeding head the first sign and pledge of my kingly power!" Instead of speaking so, he merely said, with a child's beautiful simplicity, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

1. Learn that men may be anointed long before their power is officially and publicly declared. God may have put his secret into their heart long before he puts the diadem upon their brow. We do not know to whom we are speaking.

2. Learn that God's arrangements are not extemporaneous. The men who shall succeed to all good offices are known to Him from the beginning to the end. To us the prospect may be dark, but to God the whole course is clear; the successor is anointed, but, not yet declared.

3. In studying the period of David's history which is comprised between his anointing and the killing of Goliath, we shall discover some qualities in David which we may well imitate. Soon after his anointing, David became harp player to the king. This seems to be a descent. Are there not many apparent anti-climaxes in life? Is this a conspicuous example of them? "Play the harp! Why, I am king," David might have said. "Why should I waste my time in attempting to prolong the life of the man who is upon my throne? The sooner he dies, the sooner I shall reign; not one soothing note will I evoke from my harp!" Had David spoken so, he would have dropped from the high elevation which becomes the spirit of a king. Are we skilled in music? Let us help those who are sad. Have we this world's goods? Let us seek out the poor, that, they may bless us as the messengers of God. Have we power to say beautiful words? Let us speak to men who are weary of the common tumult which is around them. To help a man is the honour of true kingliness. After this engagement as harp player, David went home to pursue his usual avocations. How well he carried the burden of his prospects! We see no sign of impatience. He did not behave himself as a child who, having seen a toy, cries until it is put into his hands. David had the dignity of patience. He carried the Lord's secret, in a quiet heart. When David came to see his fighting brethren, by the express instructions of his father Jesse, he disclosed a feature in his character in true keeping with what we have seen. When he had become acquainted with the case, he at once looked at outward circumstances in their moral bearing. Other men, including Saul himself, were talking about, mere appearances. They did not see the case as it, really was. Their talk, in fact, was strongly atheistic. Now for another tone! David called Goliath, not a giant, not a soldier, but an uncircumcised Philistine, who had defied the armies of the living God! This is a moral tone. This is precisely the tone that was wanted in the talk of degenerate Israel! As used by David, the very word uncircumcised involved a moral challenge. This tone retrieves the honour of any controversy. It brings strength with it, and hope, and dignity. Oh, for one David in every controversy! Men lose themselves in petty details, they fight about straws, they see only the surface; David saw the spiritual bearing of all things, and redeemed a controversy from vulgarity and atheism by distinctly and lovingly pronouncing the name of God. The atheist counts the guns, the saint looks up to God; the atheist is terrified by the size of the staff, the saint is inspired by his faith in right and purity. Such a man cannot fail. David interpreted the past so as to qualify himself for the future. When Saul doubted his inability to cope with the Philistine, David recounted some of his recollections as a shepherd. The past should be our prophet. David confided in the unchangeableness of God. Forms of danger vary; but the delivering power remains the same. The great fight of life is a contention between the material and the spiritual. Goliath represents the material; he is towering in stature, vast in strength, terrible in aspect. David represents the spiritual: he is simple, trustful, reverent; the merely fleshly side of his power is reduced, to the lowest possible point, — he fights under the inspiration of great memories, in a deeply religious spirit, not for personal glory but for the glory of the living God. As a contest between strength and strength, the scene was simply ridiculous. Viewed materially, the Philistine was perfectly right when he disdained David, and scornfully laughed at the weapons which the stripling produced. Goliath showed a most justifiable contempt; as a materialist he could indeed have adopted no other tone. David made no boast of his weapons. He pronounced the name of God, and put his life in the keeping of the Most High. The application of the truths of this lesson is easy as a matter of inference, but hard as a matter of realisation. Some men save, others are saved. Such is the law of sovereignty. This law of sovereignty penetrates the whole scheme and fabric of life. David saved, Israel was saved; activity and passivity make up the sphere of this life. Without any attempt at fanciful spiritualising, we see in David the type of the one Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, who bruised the serpent's head, and won for us the one victory through which we may have eternal life. "Crown Him Lord of all."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.

WEB: Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, you young man?" David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

The Value of a Noble Ancestry
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