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THE SHEPHERD BOY OF BETHLEHEM
I Samuel xvi: 1 to 23.
HEN Samuel told Saul that the Lord would take away the
kingdom from him, he did not mean that Saul should lose
the kingdom at once. He was no longer God's king; and
as soon as the right man in God's sight should be
found, and should be trained for his duty as king, then
God would take away Saul's power, and would give it to
the man whom God had chosen. But it was many years
before all this came to pass.
Samuel, who had helped in choosing Saul as king, still
loved him, and he felt very sorry to find Saul
disobeying God's commands. He wept much, and mourned
for Saul. But the Lord said to Samuel:
"Do not weep and mourn any longer over Saul, for I have
refused him as king. Fill the horn with oil, and go to
Bethlehem in Judah. There find a man named Jesse, for I
have chosen a king among his sons."
But Samuel knew that Saul would be very angry, if he
should learn that Samuel had named any other man as
king in his place. He said to the Lord, "How can I go?
If Saul hears of it, he will kill me."
Then the Lord said to Samuel, "Take a young cow with
you; and tell the people that you have come to make an
offering to the Lord. And call Jesse and his sons to
the sacrifice. I will tell you what to do; and you
shall anoint the one whom I name to you."
Samuel went over the mountains southward from Ramah to
Bethlehem, about ten miles, leading a cow. The rulers
of the town were alarmed at his coming, for they feared
that he had come to judge the people for some
evil-doing. But Samuel said, "I have come in peace to
make an offering and to hold a feast to the Lord. Make
yourselves ready and come to the sacrifice."
 And he invited Jesse and his sons to the service. When
they had made themselves ready they came before Samuel.
He looked at the sons of Jesse very closely. The oldest
was named Eliab; and he was so tall and noble-looking
that Samuel thought:
"Surely this young man must be the one whom God has
chosen." But the Lord said to Samuel:
"Do not look on his face, nor on the height of his
body; for I
 have not chosen him. Man judges by the outward looks,
but God looks at the heart."
Then Jesse's second son, named Shammah, passed by. And
the Lord said, "I have not chosen this one." Seven
young men came, and Samuel said:
"None of these is the man whom God has chosen. Are
these all your children?"
"There is one more," said Jesse. "The youngest of all.
He is a boy in the field caring for the sheep."
And Samuel said:
"Send for him; for we will not sit down until he
comes." So after a time the youngest son was brought
in. His name was David, a word that means "darling,"
and he was a beautiful boy, perhaps fifteen years old,
with fresh cheeks and bright eyes.
As soon as the young David came, the Lord said to
"Arise; anoint him, for this is the one whom I have
Then Samuel poured oil on David's head, in the presence
of all his brothers. But no one knew at that time the
anointing to mean that David was to be the king.
Perhaps they thought that David was chosen to be a
prophet like Samuel.
From that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon David;
and he began to show signs of coming greatness. He went
back to his sheep on the hillsides around Bethlehem,
but God was with him. David grew up strong and brave;
not afraid of the wild beasts which prowled around and
tried to carry away his sheep. More than once he fought
with lions and bears, and killed them, when they seized
the lambs of his flock. And David, alone all day,
practised throwing stones in a sling, until he could
strike exactly the place for which he aimed. When he
swung his sling, he knew that the stone would go to the
very spot at which he was throwing it.
THE BOY DAVID MEETING THE LION
And, young as he was, David thought of God, and prayed
to God. And God talked with David, and showed to David
his will. And David was more than a shepherd and a
fighter of wild beasts. He played upon the harp, and
made music, and sang songs about the goodness of God to
One of these songs of David we have all heard, and
perhaps know so well that we can repeat it. It is
called "The Shepherd Psalm," and begins with the words:
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Some think that David made this Psalm, while he was
himself a shepherd, tending his flock. But it seems
rather like the thoughts of a man than of a boy; and it
is more likely that long after those days, when David
was a king, and remembered his youth, and his flock in
the fields, that he saw how God had led him, just as he
had led his sheep; and then he wrote this Psalm.
But while the Spirit of God came to David among his
 that Spirit left King Saul, because he no longer obeyed
God's words. Then Saul became very unhappy, and gloomy
in his feelings. There were times when he seemed to
lose his mind, and a madness would come upon him; and
at almost all times Saul was sad and full of trouble,
because he was no more at peace with God.
The servants around Saul noticed that when some one
played on the harp and sang, Saul's gloom and trouble
passed away, and he became cheerful. At one time Saul
"Find some one who can play well, and bring him to me.
Let me listen to music; for it drives away my sadness."
One of the young men said:
"I have seen a young man, a son of Jesse in Bethlehem,
who can play well. He is handsome in his looks, and
agreeable in talking. Then I have heard that he is a
brave young man, who can fight as well as he can play;
and the Lord is with him."
Then Saul sent a message to Jesse, David's father. He
"Send me your son David, who is with the sheep. Let him
come and play before me."
Then David came to Saul, bringing with him a present
for the king from Jesse. When Saul saw him, he loved
him, as did everybody who saw the young David. And
David played on the harp, and sang before Saul. And
David's music cheered Saul's heart, and drove away his
Saul liked David so well that he made him his
armor-bearer; and David carried the shield and spear
and sword for Saul when the king was before his army.
But Saul did not know that David had been anointed by
Samuel. If he had known it, he would have been very
jealous of David.
After a time Saul seemed well, and David left him, to
be a shepherd once more at Bethlehem.
DAVID PLAYS BEFORE SAUL