When God Calls
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
The summer of David continues this week, after the prologue of last week when we were introduced to the supporting cast of characters: we me Samuel the prophet of the Lord, Saul the newly anointed king, and the people of 12 tribes. We heard about how even when the people continued to fall away from what God desired for them, because of God’s faithfulness – God would find a way for them to be saved. There were going to be ups and downs, good and bad, it wouldn’t be a nice and smooth path, but in God’s faithfulness, nothing would separate them for God’s love.
This week we meet, very briefly the central human figure in this summer’s sermons series. We meet David. The boy who would be king. The boy who was just a few moments ago tending sheep and is now the anointed future king of Israel. This is a story of what happens when God calls.
The stage is set this morning for the foundation to be laid for the story of the person in the Bible who’s name is mentioned most in the Bible. In the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible David is mentioned 1,107 times and Jesus is mentioned 1,001 times. Over 950 verses in our Holy Book are dedicated to this man after God’s own heard. This man who was a boy, nearly forgotten by his father when the prophet Samuel came to Bethlehem to anoint the future king.
The story begins with the downfall of Saul. Saul is still king and will be for a number of years, but he as lost the Lord’s blessing. God will no longer speak to Saul, and Samuel will not see him again until they day he dies. The Lord has left Saul to fend for himself, so God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint the one who will who become king after Saul.
Fearing for his life because he knows Saul is a jealous king and is drunk with power, Samuel seeks wisdom of how to go about this treasons task. He is told by God to go to Bethlehem to make a sacrifice, and when he does he is instructed to invite Jesse and his boys to the sacrifice.
Now, a little background check about Jesse, he is the grandson of a woman named Ruth. Ruth is the daughter in law of a woman named Naomi. Now they became kin in the land of Moab which is outside of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Moabites were historic enemies of the Israelites, yet during the time of Naomi there were friendlier relations, as she and her family fled there during a famine. During this time, her sons married and later died in their famine induced exile. Ruth, one of the women who married one of her sons, returned with her to Bethlehem. There Ruth remarried Boaz and gave birth to Obed, Davids granddad.
This the first strangeness in this saga of the once and future king of Israel. That he would not be of pure Hebrew blood. That in his veins flowed the blood of foreigners, and yet, when God calls…
Even so, the strangeness must have not been lost on Jesse as at the sacrifice, Samuel begins to go down the line of the sons of Jesse. Son number one: strong and handsome, royal looking, this is the one, right God. “No, Sammy. Keep going. Don’t base it in looks.”
“Fine, Lord, you know. How about boy number two? He is smart and well read.”
“Third one’s a charm, right?”
“Keep on movin'”
So for seven sons this pattern of rejection happened. By now, Jesse had to be wondering if this was all a joke being played on him. Surely it had to be.
At the end of the line, Samuel is just as confused. “What gives, God?”
“Ask if he has any more boys.”
So, Samuel asks Jesse, who replies that yes, but he is the runt. God can do better than him. He is out watching the sheep. He hasn’t even become a man yet. “Well, let’s see. Send for him.”
So Jesse calls for David to come in from the field, and sure enough he is but a boy. His cheeks red from the heat. His hair matted with sweat form being in the pasture with the sheep. His odor that of a shepherd. But his eyes told a different story. His eyes, opalescent, reflecting the generations gone before him, they told the story of what God had done. When the runt of Jesse’s litter came before the prophet of the Lord, Samuel knew.
The old prophet made his way to the boy and emptied his entire horn of oil on his head. And as the oil fell down his face, they Spirit of the Lord fell upon the shepherd and he was the anointed king to come.
His brothers stood in disbelief. His father fainted. The old prophet just went home. When God calls, sometimes you are left scratching your head. I can’t imagine the brothers reactions when they got home. Remember the reaction of Joseph’s brothers when he got his pretty technicolor coat? They wanted to kill him, and ended up selling him into slavery. I am guessing David’s brothers probably were not too kind to their little brother when they got home. “How could this runt be the king?” “He isn’t even a man yet?” “I saw him go crying to dad just the other day.” I imagine they would have a hard time with this.
And isn’t that the way when you see someone else getting something you think either they don’t deserve or that they some how did not earn? Or even worse something that should be yours? You just stand there in disbelief. You stand there confused – not just about why they were picked, but what does this mean for you?
You get wrapped up in being one of the brothers. Wondering why things are happening for everyone else but you. Asking what it is that they have that you don’t. You get busy watching all that is going on that your self-doubt rises, that your envy grows. You get so wrapped up in being one of the brothers that you become deaf to the fact that you, too are called like David.
It might not be that you are like one of the brothers, but rather that you feel even smaller than David. That you feel you have nothing to contribute. That because of your age you are either too young to be take seriously or your are too old to have any energy. You might feel that you have tried to do what you were called to do and ended up disappointed.
Maybe you had a call, maybe you were called and you truly answered God’s call on your life, but now it seems nothing but empty. You feel the fire burning at the edges of your being and you are just waiting for the full effects of the flame to burn you you. You are tired. And you are empty.
There are lots of voices that shout out to us. Voices that are comforting and promising. Voices that are taunting and teasing. Voices that speak the words we want to hear, but not necessarily the words we need to hear. There are voices calling out to us. So many voices that in the din of it all it is almost impossible to hear God. But even in that cacophony of voices God is calling out. God is always calling out your name. Calling you to something greater. Calling you to be greater Calling to you be a king or queen.
God knew what God what doing when he called David. God knew people would wonder what was going on. God knew that that people would wonder how this boy could reign and lead God’s people. God knew that David would grow up in the court of Saul and experience deep, deep love in his friendship with Jonathan, and that he would be terrorized by a jealous Saul. God knew that David would have choices to make, and many times they would be the wrong choices. God knew that these poor choices would cause David’s family to be dysfunctional. But God also knew that even in the poor choices, David would listen for God’s call. And David would eventually return to God. David would turn and repent, tears flowing, begging to hear the voice of God. And God, faithful God, would keep calling his name.
God keeps calling your name. God is, today, calling you to be the person you were meant to be. The person you are anointed to be. God may be calling you to ministry. God may be calling you to serve the church. God may be calling you to run for office. God may be calling you to something that I can’t even imagine. God is calling you.
God can use you. God is calling you to be the person God has meant you to be. To do the things God has created you to do.
When God calls and you hear it, believe me, your world changes and you see things in a whole different light.
When I finally listened to God’s call to be a pastor, I had no idea what life you would look like. I never anticipated that it would mean I would end up in Indianapolis – a city I had only been to once in my life. I never anticipated that it meant I would have the privilege of meeting wise people who could share with me their sorrows and joys. I would never have guessed I would meet new folks who would speak to me and teach me through the language of art – my language. I would never have believed that I would be at a church that is growing each Sunday from 40 when I started to over 60 for the last six weeks – in a time when they say churches are dying. I would never, ever, have believed I would get to Baptize 5 people in one year – and the year ain’t done yet. God’s call on my life has taken me to places I would never have believed 6 years ago when I started seminary. When God calls…
When God calls, it can be a difficult thing to hear. It can be a hard journey, but we are never promised that it will be an easy ride. We are promised that we will not go alone. We are promised that when we listen to the voice of God all fear will fall. When God’s call is answered, however hard it might be, how ever difficult the call – when Gods’ call is answered – there will be strength for the journey. There will be light in the darkness. There will be hope in the times of despair. Because when God calls God doesn’t call you do work alone.
And so, God is calling. God is calling you. God is calling me. God is calling this church to be something extraordinary in this city. Calling us to be a beacon of grace and mercy. Of love and justice, healing and hope in a city that is hurting. God is calling us to rebuild this neighborhood. To be a voice against injustice; to be the voice of those the people in power iwll not listen to. God is calling us to fight. To Fight the powers that be and lift up the beautiful image of God in those around us. It is a challenge. It won’t be easy. It will take all of us working together using the gifts God has given us. It will take time, but God is calling us. And when God calls you can try to find one, but there are no excuses…
I’m too old, you are saying – God called Abram to a whole new life when he was 75. And told Sarah when she was 90 she was going to have a baby.
I’m too young for God to call me – Well, we know that ain’t true – David was anointed king at 10. Jesus called the little children unto him and said the Reign of God was theirs. You aren’t too young.
I’m too short – Zacchaeus was a wee little man and wee little man was he.
I’m a woman – Come on’ now. Sarah. Ruth. Naomi. Rahab. Esther. Elizabeth. Mary. Priscilla. Aquila. God’s calling you.
God can’t use me. I can’t even get around. Last time I checked, God is the one who makes the lame walk. The blind see. The deaf hear. God is the one who restores our souls.
God took a stuttering shepherd, Moses, and made him the liberator of
God took the runt of the litter, David, and made him the King.
God took a coward, Jonah, and made him a prophet of love.
God took an an ostracized slave, Esther, and made her the Queen.
God took a backwoods prophet, John, and had him prepare the way of the Lord.
God took a persecutor of the church, Saul, and made him the greatest community organizer to ever live, Paul.
If God can use these, God can use you. God is calling. God is calling.
Thanks be to God.