Sermon by Rev. Mary Fletcher for Parkview United Church, March 26,2017. Sermon Topic: Choosing a King (David the Shepherd Boy)

king david

Lent 4 March 26, 2017 Choosing a King (David the Shepherd Boy)

How does God choose a King? How do people choose a king? There are many kings in our world today – King Harald V of Norway, King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, King Philippe of Belgium, King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and kings of Morocco, Sweden, Cambodia, Spain, Thailand, among many others. These gentlemen are Kings, their official title is King. They are Kings of their nations.

How do people get chosen for such positions as kingship, or rulers of their countries? There is the route where a person may be born into a kingship role, or they may fight their way to the top, elected or otherwise. Not long ago, we watched the election in the USA of its ruler, and it has made us wonder how he came to power. He would certainly love to be called a king.

How does God choose a king? The reading today about shepherd boy David chosen by God to be king of Israel opens our eyes to considerations that we may have easily overlooked. God chose, what may have seemed to the people around him, an unlikely candidate. Who was David? Just a youth, someone seemingly unimportant, a shepherd boy old enough to tend the sheep and the youngest in his family of fine young men. But unknown to everyone else, God had been preparing this shepherd boy David for his role of King. How did God do this?

We need to look at David’s life up to this point in our story. What kind of life had he been living? What were his expectations and experiences as a shepherd boy? We recognize that as a shepherd, David lived a life of simplicity and solitude. It was on the lonely hills of Judea, with a flock of sheep for his companions, the starry sky as his canope, and the vast expanse of wide, open spaces and nature as his classroom, that David learned some of the most valuable and basic lessons of life. He learned how to be alone with God and with himself. Away from the distractions and noise of others, David learned how to hear the voice of God. How to commune with God. How to praise and worship God. He lived with nature and the elements, he interacted with the sheep and wild animals, and he communicated with God every minute of every day. He learned how to be quiet, discerning and attentive. David learned how to be at peace with himself. And God. These are priceless lessons.

Many of us have no idea what it’s like to be alone with God. We cannot survive without noise, without activity and without the company of others. It may be very difficult for us to be alone with our own company. But taking time to talk to God can help us with this. Before David would ever sit on the throne and rule the nation of Israel, he would first spend countless hours alone in conversation with God.

And out there on those Judean hills, David learned faithfulness. Day after day he cared for his father’s sheep, and even though no one else was watching, he learned to be faithful to his responsibilities. He learned to be watchful. He learned obedience. He learned humility. David in his youth learned lessons in the secret, secluded places on the Bethlehem hills that he could never have learned in the busy, clamouring places of prominence. Young David learned to trust God, to love God, to dedicate his life to God. And he learned that this was all he needed to do to please the Lord.

When we analyze David’s existence as a shepherd boy, especially by today’s standards, his job and day-to-day living may seem boring with its monotony. There can be little doubt that day blended into day as David went about the business of keeping his father’s sheep. Countless days, endless routines, repetitive duties, the same things day in and day out, this is what marked the early life of David. But, it was in this monotonous routine of life that young David’s character was taking shape. He was growing into the man God intended him to be. He was growing strong and acquiring stamina. He was exercising good judgment and learning a servant’s heart. For you see, a ruler serves. A good king has a servant’s heart. David gave his best to the task at hand, even the mundane and the monotonous. He gave of his best serving the welfare of his sheep, and he gave of his best serving his God. Then, later, when God promoted David to kingship, he didn’t have to learn to be faithful – he already knew how. He didn’t have to learn responsibility- he had already learned that lesson. He didn’t have to learn good servitude – David had already acquired a servant’s heart. And David had learned to trust in God.

Sometimes our lives may seem boring and monotonous. Day blends into day, and we think – what’s the point? – our existence seems meaningless. What we fail to see is that God is working alongside with us, even during the monotonous, routine times of our lives. And perhaps God is shaping us? To be a better servant? A better ruler in God’s Kingdom? As we learn to be more faithful in the little things and the mundane, we may be learning to be more faithful to God. Remember the message given in Matthew 25: 21: “His Lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’”

When life may seem like drudgery, just keep walking faithfully with God. And trust. God may be preparing you for greater things. Remain faithful in the little things because this training, this discipline, helps to lay the foundation of our lives. Keep praying, even if you think no-one hears you. Keep coming to church and sharing in worship. Keep giving to others, and keep living for Jesus, day in and day out; refuse to turn back or waiver from following him. In God’s time, and with Christ’s guidance, you will be blessed and rewarded for being faithful during the routine times of life. God sees the bigger picture, and you are part of it.

And remember that there are times for us, just like David, when the monotony of our lives is shattered by harsh blows. Life isn’t life without hardships and struggles. David experienced them, too. We hear him tell as a shepherd boy about encounters with a lion and a bear. We watch as he walks alone into a valley and kills a giant named Goliath. We see him hated and pursued by King Saul. God uses the classroom of adversity and hardship to teach David about the power, provision and providence of God.

Many people have terrible trouble with their struggles. Some get upset and give up. But that’s not how we grow. You see, life is about 10% what happens to you and 90% about how you respond to what happens to you. Struggles build character. And God wants to help us through trials and adversity. Nothing teaches us more about the love, faithfulness and power of God than our heavenly Father safely leading us through one of life’s valleys. Many of the great people in our Bible stories learned more about the Lord in times of trouble than they ever did in times of peace.

God walked with David through some hard places so that God might use him in the future in a greater fashion. As you look at the life you are living, can you recognize the qualities that marked David’s life in your own? Can you see the evidence of God’s work in you? “I will make you ruler over many things,” God says to us. Our divine Creator, our God, is in the business of building kings. And queens. We are being trained to serve God and God’s Son Jesus, our King of Kings. We are being trained and disciplined to be the rulers of Christ’s Kingdom, to be the shepherds of His sheep.

(Quiet Meditation Time)

How do you rule? What does God see in you? Where is there room for improvement? How would God change you? What does God intend to do with your life?