Scripture: “When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!” But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” Jesse then called up Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. Samuel said, “This man isn’t God’s choice either.” Next Jesse presented Shammah. Samuel said, “No, this man isn’t either.” Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.” Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?” “Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.” Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.” Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking. God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.” 1 Samuel 16:6-12 MSG
Have you ever been in a room that you can’t help but think you aren’t deserving of being in? Maybe it’s a physical space, maybe you’re the one who stands out in the “which one of these doesn’t belong” type of way. I’ve totally been that person, actually, I feel like I’m that person most of the time.
One time I remember feeling that way a lot was in college. I was in the honors program at our small school, so only about thirty kids were in it. I am still certain that I was number thirty on the list of invitees if there had been one ranking us by intelligence. But I loved my honors classes, even though I always felt like the least intelligent person in the room, I learned so much and I was eager to be a part of the conversations.
By my last semester, I stumbled into a leadership role in one of my honors classes. I didn’t apply for it, I didn’t ask for it, I just ended up in it. I remember telling my college roommate how ridiculous it was that I was the one in this position. I wasn’t that smart. I wasn’t super obsessed with school. I wasn’t going to grad school. Again, if there were a list of people for that position I felt like I should have been the last one on it, and yet I was the first choice.
I imagine that is exactly how David felt when he was chosen to be anointed to be king, and he wasn’t even in the room when they began to pick someone. He was the last one on everyone’s list, except for on God’s. The prophet assumed it was someone else who would fulfill that role, and even the father who knew all of the sons well didn’t consider David to be a feasible pick. And yet, we know he was appointed to be king and then later found himself in a position he probably never thought he would actually be in.
God is the One who chooses us. God is the One who positions us. He is the one who puts us at the top of a list that we don’t think we even belong on. He is the one who leads us into rooms we don’t feel worthy of, and lets us lead conversations we don’t feel like we should be invited into.
Sometimes, there will be prophets or religious leaders who look to the option that appears to be familiar. They look to the guy who looks like our current king, and they might think that’s the one. Or, there will be a father who knows everyone in the house. A person in leadership and a person who has watched us grow, and doesn’t even see the one God chooses as an option. Someone who loves us, like how a father loves a son, might not see us as the one who should be positioned, even if they love us.
Even though they didn’t see who God chose at first, and no one saw why God chose David for a long time, they still let God choose and David was anointed to be king in front of all of his brothers. It would be like receiving the position God has for you, in front of all of the other people who you think would make a better choice than you, and all the others who seem more gifted and qualified than you.
I love this story and it’s loved by many, because I think it reminds us that God chooses the person who we wouldn’t choose. He sees beyond what we see, and He places and positions people based on what He sees, not what the world sees. We love to root for the underdog.
I think that’s a great encouragement to us, but I think there's a caution here too. The father and the prophet both allowed David to be anointed with oil, even though he wasn’t their first pick. They knew it was God’s choice that mattered more than anyone else's choice. What about us? What if we were in the room, and honestly, what if you were David’s brother?
I’ve told you I’ve been like David before, the least qualified person, chosen for an exciting and fulfilling task and overjoyed that God saw me and chose me. But what if, I was standing beside David and being told by the religious leaders and by the people who know me and love me that I would be a perfect fit for the position, and then I stand beside someone who I know isn’t qualified or equipped, and I watch them receive the anointing for the position I wanted.
Maybe you’ve been there, maybe you’re there now. We can find the same comfort in the fact that God chose David that we find when we place ourselves as David, even if we aren’t David and we’re one of his brothers instead. Either way, God is the One who chose, positioned and placed David.
Either way, God chose the person who was meant for the job in ways the world couldn’t see. He looked beyond what we look for, and He chose. We have to trust in His choice when He positions someone other than who we thought made the most sense.
If you feel like you’re standing next to someone who is chosen instead of you, don’t forget that it was God’s choice, and we can trust Him. We can trust Him when we find ourselves in rooms we don’t feel qualified to be in, and we can trust Him when we feel like we should have been invited in but we had the door slammed in our face instead.
He’s the same God to David, to the brothers, and to us. He has a position for all of us, and He’s the one who sees us, and will position us at the right time. We just need to trust Him in the meantime. If you feel like you're chosen and you aren't qualified, praise God and trust Him to prepare and equip you. If you feel like you are being passed by, praise God and trust that He isn't handing away your position. He has something specific for you. He has chosen you, even if you don't know what the position is yet.
-Who do you relate to the most when you read this passage? What feelings or thoughts would you have if you were placed in their position? -What situations does this remind you of in your own life? -Whose opinions do you value highly like a prophet or a father? How can you make sure God's opinion comes first?
Think of someone who might be feeling passed by or overlooked for a position, in a friendship, community or in your church. Reach out and remind him or her that you see them and God has something special in store for them!
Hey God, we trust you to be the God who chooses us and positions us. We trust that you see beyond what we see, you see beyond what people in leadership and positions of power see. You are the One who equips and prepares us for specific assignments. Allow us to be thankful and patient as we look to you and trust you in your leadership in our lives. Amen.