The Life David Lived – His Attitude

We are first introduced to David as he is keeping sheep for his father.  He has accepted, obediently, the lowly job passed on to the youngest of eight sons.  Because of his duty, he is missing out on the festivities that are taking place at the family home. 

From the text, it would seem that David is somewhat neglected by his family.  When Samuel asks Jesse to gather his sons, it apparently doesn’t occurr to Jesse that the prophet might have a message for his youngest.  He never thought David would serve some special purpose.  Jesse didn’t even send for David.  It’s not as if he couldn’t have, because when Samuel asks specifically for him, he promptly dispatches a messenger.  It just didn’t cross the collective family mind that young David was the one.

Amazingly, this does not make David bitter.  When he arrives, there is no indication that he resents such treatment.  Nor, after coming before Samuel and being anointed as the future king of Israel, does he seem to expect preferential treatment.  Instead, he returns to the field to continue watching the sheep.

David’s attitude in this scene is a clear indication of his character. His diligent attitude toward his work showed a strong sense of personal responsibility.  The magnitude or glory of the task is unimportant to him.  What matters is doing the task assigned and doing it well. 

His respectful attitude toward those around and over him reflects his attitude toward God.  In fact, the clearest indicator of anyone’s relationship to God may be our relationship to others.  On several occasions in Scripture, our love for God is directly related to our love for others.

Jesus said, “Whoever would be greatest among you, let him be your servant.”  David’s integrity was displayed through the heart of a servant.  His attitude of humility was key to his future greatness.


11 thoughts on “The Life David Lived – His Attitude

  1. Little did David know how, while he was tending and protecting the flock, he was being prepared, on the inside and on the outside, to face Goliath. Maybe if he had hung out with his brothers he wouldn’t have had the experiences of worship.. the encounters with the lion and bear.. he may not have developed the courage he needed for Goliath.. for war.. for kingship.

  2. I have this bizarre theory that I’ll just go ahead and throw out here, since it’s relevant to this post.

    It’s not so much a theory, actually, as just a “hmm, wonder if this is how it happened”.

    As you mentioned, David’s father doesn’t seem to want to even remember that David exists. When Jesse is told to bring his sons, he just ignores David.

    Why would that be?

    Later on, David writes, “In sin, my mother conceived me.” To my knowledge, David’s mother is not mentioned in any stories as having been around.

    Sooooo….here’s where I get real wacky 😉

    I just wonder if maybe (and this has no theological importance really, or any bearing whatsoever on anything) David was actually the product of an extra-marital relationship his mother had. Under OT law, she would have been stoned to death. This would be a possible explanation for her absence in the accounts. And this would also account for Jesse’s apparent non-recognition of David as his son when Samuel asks for the sons to appear.

    There’s no way to know, but I just have thought it would be an interesting take on David’s statement in Psalm 51 since he is talking in the context of his own sin of adultery.

  3. Cameron,

    A good post. I have often taught through 1 Samuel 17 with teenagers and why God used David the way he did. In 1 Samuel 17 I think it is significant that when David went to see about his brothers since they were at war, he didn’t just abandon the flock; he made sure they were under watchcare before he left. The fact that David was faithful in little things prepared him for greater responsibility later, and usefulness to God.


    You do come up with some weird ones. 🙂

    I’m sure this is no surprise to you, but the typical view is that David meant he was conceived not necessarily in an adulterous relationship but it rather refers to generational sin or sin as an inherited disposition. This is how I have always taught/preached through Psalm 51.

    But your theory is intriguing! I do wonder if there might be a Scriptural precedent somewhere for not calling a boy his father’s son because of illegitimacy, though.

  4. Glad I could entertain you guys 😉

    Tony, yeah, that’s how I’ve always heard that phrase explained, and I have to admit that there is some contextual support for that interpretation. You know me, though, always checking out other angles, challenging the status quo, wondering why we say and do and believe the things we do…

  5. By the way, Tony. I’m not aware of any precedent for that in particular, but there are several examples that spring to mind where a father favors a younger son because he is the firstborn of a particularly favored wife (i.e., Jacob favoring Joseph comes to mind quite quickly). This is not the same situation as what we see here with David, but does seem to show the precedent for fathers “overlooking” sons based on their own personal feelings about how (or by whom) they were brought into the world.

    Again, my theory has no implications that I’m aware of, nor is it possible to be proven or disproven. I just had fun developing it in my mind and thought it put an interesting spin on why Jesse just “forgot” about David (and why David seems to be “apart” from his brothers…it’s always the brothers in one group, and David by himself — the brothers going to war while David tends the flocks, etc.).

  6. Thanks to everyone for their comments (including the provocative ones!) You step away for a few days and WOW!

    Steve, interesting speculation. Thanks for keeping things “stirred up” while I was away. 🙂

    Several related points come to mind.
    1) As you mentioned, the context of Psalm 51 is focused on HIS sinfulness not that of his mother.
    2) In each geneaology, David is listed in the same fashion as the other sons. (Ruth 4:22; 1 Chron. 2:12-17; Matthew 1:6)
    3) Not all of David’s brothers went to war, only the three eldest (1 Samuel 17:13).
    4) David being “apart” from his brothers subsequent to his anointing can be explained by their apparent jealousy of him. I mean who wouldn’t be offended that God has “rejected” you and chosen your little brother?
    5) It would affect the line of Jesus as being of the tribe of Judah (unless it could be proven that David’s “real” father was also of Judah.)
    6) Isaiah’s prophecy (Is. 11:1, 10) of a “rod out of Jesse”, which Paul quotes as referring to Christ (Romans 15:12) becomes inaccurate.

    I suppose it could be said of both 5 and 6 that it doesn’t matter who his biological father was as long as he was believed to be “of Jesse” officially. Considering the importance the Jews placed on legitimate genaeological lines though, I think it would be significant.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I certainly enjoy the discussion. Overall, I think David’s life is one of the easiest to do some “sanctified speculation” with. Perhaps it is because of the quantity of OT material related to him, or maybe it’s because David is such a dynamic character.

  7. Cameron, you make some really good points. I’m touched at the substantive response to my wackery 😉 hehe No, seriously, I do appreciate the thought you put into your response, and I will ponder what you have countered with.

    Personally, I think it’s all a big cover-up and I’m helping Dan Brown write his next blockbuster novel about how the church has suppressed this over the centuries 😉 LOL!! (JUST kidding)

  8. Amy,

    “my wackery” – I prefer my term, “sanctified speculation.”

    Just make sure I get an autographed copy of that novel. A cameo in the film version would be nice as well. 🙂

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