Sermon, Sunday June 17, 2012. 3rd Sunday after Pentecost.

After God’s own heart Series Wk 2

All kinds of people

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13 David anointed as king

Friends, we continue our journey in the life of David who was credited as being a “man after God’s own heart”.

Last Sunday we heard the account of God’s people and their demand of a king to lead them and fight their battles. We heard that the Lord took this demand as one that rejected his leading and fighting for his people as their king. And yet, even though this decision by the people would cost them dearly, God allowed their bad decision and anointed a king – king Saul.

So we learnt that being a person after God own heart is being like God to his people – not letting bad decisions or even offensive words get in the way of loving others. God allowed his people their demand out of gracious care and love for them. He stuck with them even when they got it wrong.

Well, God would have to do a lot more of this kind of patient forbearing of his people because things did not go well with King Saul. Saul gave up on the Lord often and in then the Lord had to anoint another person for the crucial role of king over his people.

Today we hear the account of the one he chose. David. We will hear about God’s unexpected and very different view of what is central to leadership and fighting his battles in life.

One of the things that used to stress me out at school was when the team got picked for the game of footy or hockey or soccer. The teacher would gather the class, pick a “captain” who then had to pick a team in turn from the class. Of course, all the sporty kids would be picked first. Then all the popular kids, and then the last few who were not particularly sporty or popular would be picked. And then there was always that harsh moment when the one or two kids who were just simply regarded as weird or bad or worthy of scorn were reluctantly picked – often with a snide comment or two by the captain and his or her mates….

I am glad that this system of picking teams has largely been abandoned because of the damage it can do to sometimes fragile kids and young people.

Well, what we have here today is kind of like a team picking event. It is an account of not merely the choosing of a young person to be on a sporting team but a person to faithfully lead a nation into a new future with God.

The stakes are much higher than a game of netball or footy or chess, the person God chooses will bear the full weight of leadership of God’s people as they fight off harsh enemies and establish themselves in the world – and more importantly, live out the Promise first given to Abraham by God – the be a nation as countless as the grains of sand at the beach who occupy a land and have a mission in the world to be a blessing to all people.

Who would you pick for this role? I guess you would look for previous employment records and determine whether the candidate has skills, experience, educational background, the right family connections, the respect of his peers, the love of his family and etc….. This is the way we make decisions about people and jobs.

But this is no normal job and it is no mere human being making the decision. It is God making a decision on a person about a God-ordained role. So the team lineup is brought in for the great man, Samuel, to choose.

Samuel has been directed to get to Bethlehem and meet with Jess, the father of 7 boys and 2 girls. Samuel knows it will be one of the 7 boys, but he does not know which one.

The young men are paraded in before the Prophet and king maker in Israel. They enter in order from the most likely to the least likely – by age. This is how it is in this ancient culture.

Surely many would have thought 9including Dad) that the oldest bot, Eliab would get the nod. This is the way the family custom would dictate proceedings. Jesse, his family, Eliab and Samuel’s attendants must have been surprised when the dead certainty was not given the job! Neither was the next most likely or the next or the next….and so it went until all the boys suitable for the task in people’s eyes were paraded and not given the anointing of God.

As an afterthought, the young lad still out in the paddock looking after the sheep is sought out and bought in before Samuel. Much to his and all his brothers and sisters and parents and whole village – even a whole nation – this lad is chosen for the task of ruling and leading God’s people.

So, this is God’s way of choosing people for his team. He chooses people without all the agreed background, education, age, status or skills – at least not yet.

There are some give away lines that tell us about how God chooses people for his work

 Do not consider his appearance or height, for I have rejected him (Eliab) 16:7

So God’s choice of people is not about physical features and what they mean to others.

Phew! He chooses balding people before they were bald! God chooses short people, ugly people (who are not ugly to him), young people.

…..And then the real telling line;

The Lord does not look at thing human beings look at (when choosing people for his work). Human beings look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (16: 7b)

This is good news for anyone who has ever felt inadequate or actually been inadequate for a task in the Lord’s church. Being inadequate for the job does not count you out of the mission of God.

David was inadequate. He was so young. He had no idea what he was in for. He had no experience in the deft work of politics. He had never been in an army. He had never led anything, except for a few sheep.

We are inadequate, sinful, idolatrous, distracted, self-orientated, ignorant of so much and often so incapable of knowing the heart of another. And yet, God chooses us in baptism and ever since.

God chose him and anointed him BEFORE he could actually do the job.

This is God’s gracious heart in action again. He chooses a person to keep his promises alive because he loves people.

He chooses a person BEFORE that person is ready, or able, or even capable.

He chooses you BEFORE you are ready, capable or willing!

And therein lies the challenge for anyone seeking to life their life after God’s own heart. Will I let the Lord choose me for a task I have no idea how to do?

  •  Will I put myself in the lineup for a task that I have not learnt how to do – YET.
  •  Will i trust the Lord when I sense his call to make of me what he will – trusting that he knows me much better then he knows me and he knows the people with whom he is calling me to work better than me and they themselves.
  •  Will I trust that the Lord does not care much for height, skin colour, language mastery, particular skills in any area, weight, state of health, self esteem level, past hurt, disability but cares about me and my inner life with him as he calls me to serve him outwardly?

If you are not sure you are good enough for God’s team, be sure today.

God chooses you. God chooses you for his church team to play the life-saving game of mission.

If you feel like the last kid standing alone when the teams have been chosen, let the Lord choose you for his mission.

Simply “get in line”

Get in line with the great community of the inadequate trusting the Lord’s mercy and grace for the task we face.

He has chosen us.

He will choose us

We choose each other for his work.

Simply “get in line” with the rest of us inadequate forgiven sinners….. Click here to view ending video……...