reading:1 Samuel 16:1-13
There’s a well worn series of clichés that describe the character of different cities
It goes that if you are in a conversation in Sydney,
The key thing that people will ask you is “What do you do?”
If you are in a conversation in Melbourne they will ask “Where do you live?”
And if you are in Adelaide, they will ask you “Where did you go to school?”
It’s a quick way of defining someone’s worth, someone’s position,
someone’s importance or place.
Because, of course, the best possible answers you could come up with would be:
I went to Pulteney.
But around 1053BC it wasn’t so much what you did, or where you lived
or where you went to school, that got you ahead in the importance standings.
And if you were going to choose someone to be in charge of a fledgling nation,
to lead a group of half connected tribes into battle, then you choose …
you choose the sort of person that Samuel chose in 1 Samuel 9
a man who was an “impressive young man, without equal among the Israelites –
a head taller than any of the others”
You’d choose Saul.
You’d choose the merchant banker. You’d choose the Toorak dweller
You’d choose the Pulteney alumni.
So when it is time to choose King number 2, Samuel knew the sort of person to look for.
Samuel looks for the merchant banker; the man from Toorak; the Pulteneyan old boy
The good looking, strong one.
And when guided to Jesse’s house, Samuel sees just what he thinks is perfect: Eliab.
Without knowing of character, or bravery, or honesty, or sense of justice
Samuel is ready to anoint.
This is the ancient story of “you cant judge a book by its cover”
Over the next 6 weeks we are following through the story of David
from Samuel’s anointing through to his confrontation with Nathan, the next prophet.
It’s funny, because while David is THE King of Israel
as far as the Hebrew Scriptures were concerned – the pinnacle of kingship –
the books of Samuel treat him quite differently from the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles.
In 1 and 2 Samuel we get the warts and all version of his life.
The nasty bits that we will be coming across in a few weeks time –
the juicy bits of the David story – don’t make it into Chronicles.
But they are there for all to see, and take some relief and humour in – in 1&2 Samuel
This is the story for the one who is not the merchant banker
This is the story for the one who does not live in Toorak
This is the story for the one who did not go to Pulteney
This is the story for the one who is not even considered important enough
to be called in from the sheep minding to meet the prophet.
This is the story that holds the church and society to task
for excluding people from positions of talent and leadership
because they seemed insignificant
This is the story that speaks encouragement to the ones who are
the wrong colour and the wrong gender, who have the wrong education and occupation.
This is the story that says right from the beginning that you are not insignificant.
And because we know where the story is going, we can take heart pre-emptively as well.
Because while it says in the story’s opening
that “God looks at the character” of the person
we know something about David’s character as well.
We know, and we will be looking at, the highs and the lows of David’s kingship.
Both ends of the spectrum.
And we will be reminded that this is also the story for the person
who knows that they are not perfect,
who knows they have mighty large flaws
and have blown it in very significant ways.
This is our story. This is my story. This is your story.
When the kings and queens of England are crowned they are anointed with oil
in the midst of the public ceremony for all the nation – and world – to see.
And while David’s anointing was in plain view of his brothers
I have a feeling that it was more for David than it was for Eliab or Abinadab
Because whether David knew of his potential flaws of lust and power at this stage
I’m sure David knew that he was insignificant.
I’m sure he knew he wasn’t the right size, the right position in the family.
Just like people know when they have the wrong occupation or suburb or school.
But the story makes it clear – hopefully most clearly to the insignificant ones –
that God is not going to have time and energy wasted
by leaving people outside the feast.
Come to the feast. Everyone is welcome.
Just the way you are.