His father didn’t think much of him. He was always being overlooked and forgotten especially when his older brothers were around. His dad had an important job and was anxious that his boys follow in his footsteps. All but the youngest. His dad didn’t even like to let him eat his meals with the family. Pretty soon, the young boy stayed away from the house most of the time. That’s why he wasn’t at home when the great man came.
Samuel was a prophet of God and it was God Who had sent him to Jesse’s house. Samuel was sent looking for the next king of Israel and God had told him to look for him among Jesse’s sons. But after he’d seen all of the them, the prophet was still seeking the one God wanted as king. The older sons that Jesse was so proud of, just hadn’t measured up. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart”(I Samuel 16:7). Jesse finally admitted that he had one more son—the youngest, who was out in the fields tending sheep. When the boy came into the room, The Lord told Samuel, “Rise up, anoint him, for this is the one!”(I Samuel 16:6-12). When St. Luke tells us the story, he says the Lord’s thoughts were these: “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will”(Acts 13:22). David’s own mother said something remarkable at the moment of his anointing: “The stone that was reviled by the builders has now become the cornerstone”(Psalms 118:22). Later, Jesus will use these very words to describe His own life (Matthew 21:42).
God says David is a man after His own heart and calls them each “the cornerstone.” Surely David is someone very beloved by God. And yet we know the flaws in David’s heart, don’t we? He looked with lust on another man’s wife and arranged for him to be killed so that David could have her for himself. This adultery and murder haunted him for the rest of his life. David loved God and God’s law and he knew the depths of his sins. His sorrow and repentance were genuine. David always looked to God for strength and for mercy. He was thankful for God’s abundant blessings. David wrote many of the Psalms, which reveal all the emotions of his life. For me, the Psalms are a great lesson in learning how to pray. David hid nothing from God and the Psalms are full of sorrow and of joy, of gratitude and of repentance. They’re also replete with frustration and anger, regret and vengeance. Whatever David was feeling, he shared with The Lord.
If David was a man after God’s own heart, it was this openness and sharing that God truly loves. David sinned but he asked for mercy. He repented. He praised. He doubted. He gave thanks. His heart and soul were always open to God. Though he was a flawed man, like each one of us, David never allowed his faults and sins to turn him away from God. He kept praying. He kept praising. He kept asking God what He wanted of him. This is David’s great lesson for each one of us. No matter what, keep talking to God. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t censor your prayers, but let The Lord into every moment of your life. There’s no sin that’s beyond His mercy. There’s nothing you’ve done that could make Him love you less. David reminds us that God can do amazing things even with those of us who feel forgotten or overlooked, too sinful or unworthy, or just nothing special. The Lord can make His home in our heart, if we allow Him. A shepherd boy can become a giant-killer and a great king. His family can produce the Savior of us all. And David danced before The Lord because he couldn’t contain his joyful love of God. May we look to the New Year through David’s eyes, placing all our trust in Him.
“My arms wave like banners of praise to You.”