David was the youngest son, but don’t let that fool you, many scholars think David may have been around 20 at the time of this story.
Samuel was such a scary man he had to send word to the elders at Bethlehem to say he came in peace.
Little is known about his appearance though he is often called ruddy, which may mean he had a tinge of red in his hair. Also he is described as handsome and a bit short!
Just as in most of the biblical stories, to keep sheep denotes that he was considered the least of the brothers, but God has a way of choosing the ‘least’.
It is suspected that David’s family was of modest means, but little is known and David’s mother is never named.
David is anointed but not as king, rather as a chosen one, the elect of God. His anointing was not meant as a threat to Saul and his kingship would not begin for at least another decade.
Names you need to know
Samuel – the great judge and prophet (pretty miserable as he mourns God’s favour leaving the present king Saul)
David – means beloved, youngest son of 8
Jesse – David’s dad (we don’t know who mum was)
Eliab – the most visually impressive looking brothers
7 Brothers – you don’t need to know the names but 6 of them can be found in 1 Chronicles 2:13-15, the unnamed is presumed to have died or been from a concubine.
Samuel comes to make an offering and invites people to sanctify themselves and join him, but he singles out Jesse’s household by sanctifying them himself. this means they were probably invited not simply to spectate but to join the meal. If a great man invites you and your sons to join him in a sacrifice and feast it may seem strange that you have sent one of your sons out to tend the sheep. We also know from later accounts that David leaves his employ as kings musician to occasionally return to the flock of sheep. From whatever angle you look at this it seems counter effective. Jesse sending David shows that, while he named him with a word meaning beloved, he believed him less likely to be honoured by the great judge. Equally David’s choice to take the task, if it were optional, shows his self worth as particularly low. Alternatively we could suggest that out in the solitude was a place David found more comfortable, though perhaps not the greatest asset for a future king…?
David is no small kid, probably already hitting his teens, if not emerging from them, he would not have been allowed to hide from fear itself. Though fear would have tinged the greeting in that household. Samuel was not a gentle man, and his feats of demonstrating God’s power had resulted in many deaths, you would not wish to cross him. Yet, so human, he falls quickly pray to the human sight, singling out the impressive muscle of Eliab as the most likely contender. This is doubly surprising as Samuel had just walked away from Saul, who was every bit a great king visually.
What is particularly pertinent to this tale is that while Samuel finally has his eyes opened to David being the right son to anoint his never announces why. Then Samuel leaves and David goes back to the sheep. While God has powerfully come into the picture from an outsiders perspective little seems to have changed. Yet, importantly, this was not an empty ceremony, David experiences the Spirit of God descends on him, allowing his to grow wise, courageous and strong. He built the characteristics of a prince elect from the heart outwards. His heart was touched by the grace of God and it’s not surprising that the songs of this shepherd boy become the great psalms, so great that soon the present king will beg him to come sooth his woes with the sound.
If you want to put David’s like in context there is a great info-graphic by the good book company. (Pictured in small here)