Jesse presented to the prophet his sons he thought would make a good king. But when Samuel turned his horn over their heads, the oil of God did not fall on any of them.
When Samuel saw one particular son, Eliab, he was convinced he had found his man. Eliab was straight out of central casting. He walked and talked and looked like a king. “Surely, this must be the Lord’s anointed one!” Samuel confidently declared.
Samuel was wrong.
The Lord pulled the prophet aside and said, “Samuel, be quiet while I am working. You and I are not looking for the same thing. Man looks at the outward appearance, I see in a man’s heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Samuel was instructed to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. However, the oil did not fall on any of Jesse’s sons. But Samuel did not let this seeming contradiction cause him to doubt the word of the Lord. Rather, he wisely concluded that he must not have met all of Jesse’s boys.
“Oh, dear! You’re right!” Jesse said. “I have another son. He’s the runt of the litter. His name is David. But you couldn’t want him. He’s not king material. He’s only a shepherd-boy.”
“We are not going anywhere until he arrives,” Samuel commanded. “Go get him.”
They fetched David from his field duties and brought him to Samuel. Before the young man could fully understand what was going on, oil flowed from his head down to his feet.
David, the young shepherd boy, was the Lord’s newly anointed King of Israel. There was no question about it. The Lord was emphatic, rejecting David’s brothers before the community, and selecting the son Jesse almost forgot he had.
But David’s coronation by the people did not follow David’s anointing by the Lord. No crown. No throne. No palace. No riches. No army.
The Lord summoned David from the sheepfold, brought him before his family and community, and anointed him as king, instead of his brothers. Then the Lord told David, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.”
The next time we see David, he is in the same place he was when we met him. As Israel battled the Philistines, Jesse sent David to take his brothers some food and bring back a war report. In obedience to his father, David left his flock and went to the place of battle, where he saw the giant Goliath defy the armies of the living God.
Did you catch that? Not where David was sent to—the battlefield, where he would have his epic encounter with Goliath. But where he was sent from—with the sheep in the field.
David was anointed to sit on the throne. But he was appointed to sit among sheep. He was destined for the palace. But he was stuck in the field. He was called to greatness. But he was left in obscurity.
David was special. At the same time, he was a nobody. David was a special nobody.
Why did the Lord anoint David for the throne, only to leave him in the pasture?
David was anointed to succeed the reign over Israel, in the place of Saul. But although David was anointed, he was not yet ready for the throne. At the same time, the throne was not ready for David. Saul was fired. But he would remain on the throne until the Lord finished his divine work.
Beyond that, Bethlehem may have known David was anointed. But the rest of Israel did not. The Lord needed time to present David to Israel on his own terms.
For David to lead Israel, he needed the smell of anointing on him. But he also needed the smell of sheep on him. Unfortunately, too many of us in want the sweet smell of anointing, without the foul smell of sheep. But until you have served field duty, you are not ready for God to do greater things in, through or for you.
Imagine what would have happened if newly anointed David would have marched to Saul’s palace and declared, “It’s my season!” His season would have ended before it ever started!
For David to sit on the throne, he had to do more than announce his anointing. He had to trust God’s word, wait on God’s timing and submit to God’s process. He had to be a lowly shepherd before God made him a mighty king. David had to learn to be a special nobody.
The Lord has placed a priceless treasure in you. The Lord has ordained a great purpose for you. The Lord wants to produce an abiding harvest through you. But the Lord is the one who does it, not you! It happens on his terms, not yours.
The Lord is responsible for your future role. You are only responsible for your present assignment. Do your job! And do not try to do God’s job! Be marked present where the Lord assigns you, and trust him to do the rest.
Have you learned to be a special nobody?
This article originally appeared here.