David was just a young shepherd boy, tending his father’s sheep, when God picked him to become the king of Israel. God had rejected Saul as king because of his wickedness and instead sent his prophet Samuel to seek out David—a mere shepherd boy. “[David] was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’ So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1Samuel 16:12-13).
Try to imagine what David must have felt at the time. How could he possibly have imagined becoming king of Israel? Did he even comprehend what was going on? He was just a boy tending sheep, probably grooming himself to take over his father’s business someday. The job of shepherd was the lowliest job a person could have. As the youngest son of Jesse, David was sent to the fields each day to tend to the flocks; his brothers handled the “more important” jobs. Even his own father couldn’t see the greatness inside David’s heart.
But God changed all that! God saw David’s heart and stepped in to create a covenant for him—a grand and glorious future far better than David could have dreamed for himself.
At the time David was content just spending time in the fields alone with God. He would run through the grass and sing before the Lord, worshiping and praying and taking in the beautiful mountain air. Early in the morning he would find a spot on a tall rock and watch the majestic sunrise, breathing in the colors as they changed from moment to moment. Each morning he suckled on the northern wind, strengthening his bones by drinking in the freedom of the open space.
It was here in the fields that David first connected with God—that he learned to talk to Him as a friend. That’s why the psalms of David are so beautiful and inspiring. In the psalms he takes us back to the days when it was just him and God, dancing in the fields together, tending to the sheep, growing in love and friendship.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. . . . In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat” (Psalm 19:1-2, 4-6).
As a shepherd David loved God with a passion. And God took notice.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.