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DAVID, THE SHEPHERD BOY
THE years had gone by since Saul had been made king and the people
had shouted so triumphantly, "God save the King!" in their joy at
having an earthly ruler set over them. The old priest, Samuel, had grown
more and more sorrowful as he watched over the people and saw how
often both they and their king did what was wrong in God's sight.
It was true that Saul was mighty in battle and ruled well; but Samuel
soon saw that the king was growing proud and self-confident. He boasted
himself of his strength, and of the great standing army which he had
made, and he forgot that he owed everything to God's help. More
and more disobedient and self-willed he became, until at last God's
message came to Samuel, telling him that Saul was no longer fit to rule,
and another king must be chosen.
Now at that time there lived, in the little hill town of Bethlehem, a
man called Jesse, who had eight sons, seven of them tall, strong, grown-
up men, and the youngest still a boy, who looked after the sheep in the
fields. The people of the little hill town did not trouble themselves
much about what was going on in the outside world There, on the
pleasant slopes of the Judean hills, they fed their flocks, and lived their
busy, peaceful lives, far away from the noise of strife and battle.
But one day a stir of excitement and fear spread through the town.
The people crowded to the city gates and gazed with anxious eyes across
the cornfields and pleasant vineyards to where the white road wound
like a ribbon up to the town. It seemed strange that they should be
so anxious and terror-stricken. No armed enemy band was marching
along that mountain road, only an old man could be seen climbing slowly
upwards with weary steps, driving a heifer before him, and carrying a
horn of oil in his hand.
But from mouth to mouth passed the word that Samuel, the prophet
of the Lord, was on his way to visit the city. The people knew that he
 was God's messenger, and they feared the message he might bring.
Was it a message of peace or of punishment? It was surely one or
other, and in their hearts they were afraid that the visit boded them
"Comest thou peaceably?" they asked anxiously, as the old man
reached the gates.
To their great relief the old man looked kindly upon them, and
answered quietly, "Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord
sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice."
It was to Jesse's house that Samuel made his way to offer the sacrifice;
but he went there with another purpose as well. Among those sons of
Jesse was one whom God had chosen to be king over Israel, and He
had bidden the old priest go and pour the anointing oil upon his head.
It was a secret errand, for no word of it must reach Saul's ear, or his
vengeance would be swift-winged and sure.
So the feast for the sacrifice was prepared in Jesse's house, and Samuel
bade the father call all his sons to the service. They must pass before
him one by one, he said.
The first of the sons to stand before Samuel was Eliab, and he was
so handsome and strong, and bore himself with such a kingly air, that
the old priest felt sure this must be the one God had chosen.
"Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him," murmured Samuel to
But he was mistaken. This was not the king. God does not take
count of outside beauty, for He looks at the heart.
So the young man passed on, and one by one his tall, handsome
brothers followed; but there was no sign from God to show which was
the one He had chosen.
Samuel was perplexed and troubled. He could not understand
what it meant, and he turned to Jesse and asked, "Are here all thy
These were all his grown-up sons that counted, was the father's
answer. There was certainly one more, but he was scarcely more
than a child, and was out on the hillside tending the sheep.
"THERE REMAINETH YET THE
YOUNGEST, AND, BEHOLD, HE KEEPETH THE SHEEP."
"Send and fetch him," ordered Samuel at once: "for we will not
sit down till he come hither."
So messengers were sent quickly to fetch the boy David, and at last
he came hurrying in. He was only a little lad, holding his shepherd's
crook in his sun-browned hand as he gazed with wondering eyes at the
 old priest who had summoned him. His fair face was still flushed with
running, his golden hair had been tossed and tangled in the wind, and
he seemed to bring in with him the very breath of the hills.
"Arise, anoint him: for this is he," sounded the voice of God in
Samuel's heart, and rising slowly, the old man poured the anointing
oil upon the sunny head of the little shepherd boy.
DAVID ANOINTED KING
Those who looked on were puzzled. Perhaps the elder brothers
were envious, and wondered why this mere child should be singled out
for such a special favour. No one knew exactly what it meant, but
no one thought of questioning God's messenger.
Nothing further happened just then. Samuel returned as he had
come, by the winding white road, and before very long his visit was
forgotten by the village folk as they settled to their work again.
Only David thought more and more of this strange happening. Alone
in the fields all day he pondered over all that had been done, and grew
more and more certain that it had been a call from God to do some special
piece of work for Him. The wonder of it filled his mind, and he felt
God's Spirit within him.
But the thought of something great in the future did not make him
neglect the daily common tasks he still had to do. He was as watchful
as ever in guarding his sheep from the fierce prowling beasts that lurked
around, as quick and brave in defending them. Even in his leisure time
he was busy too, and there was not one of the sunny hours of daylight
that he wasted.
He loved music, and he taught himself to play upon the harp,
practising so carefully and patiently that his fingers grew most wonderfully
skilful, and the songs he made were so beautiful that they became famous
in all the country round about. He learned, too, to use his shepherd's
sling so that he could aim at a mark and hit it every time, and there was
no boy in all Bethlehem who was as straight a shot as he was. Whatever
was worth doing was, for him, worth doing well. It was no great thing,
perhaps, to make music or hit straight; but it was a great thing to do
what lay nearest to his hand with all his might. Perhaps some day God
might make use of his singing, or might want the services of one who
had a quick eye and a sure aim. Who could tell?
At any rate David made up his mind that he would learn well and
thoroughly all he could, so that he would be ready whenever God's call