Cinderella Story: a reflection on David’s anointing

The First Reading is 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

Today’s first reading is the moment when David appears on the scene. He has 7 older brothers and is watching sheep when Samuel arrives. Samuel is a prophet and is the chief religious figure in the land. When the people of Israel asked for king, Samuel was the one who followed God’s voice and crowned Saul king. But Saul’s kingship went poorly. We never hear the full reason why God turns away from Saul but God does. God stops being present in Saul’s life. Saul grows erratic, violent, and paranoid. When Samuel arrived in Bethlehem, the people did not know what to expect. Did Samuel come as Saul’s messenger to deliver a warning or threat? Samuel came to do something else. He’s came to commit treason and crown (anoint) David as a new king.

One of the key lines in this story is verse 7. We have to remember that the writers of scripture did not understand human anatomy like we do. For them, the heart was the brain-soul-muscle of a person. The heart held memories, created thoughts, was the source of our will and personality. The heart was more than a muscle. The heart was the source of who we are. God is not enticed by height or strength. God is enticed by fidelity and character.

David’s anointing is not a strange story in Scripture. One of the most common storylines used in the Bible is God showing unexpected favor to a younger sibling. David is 8th in line. In a worldview that honored the first born son most, David never should have seen Samuel. But God sees David differently. God valued the least of Jesse’s sons and crowned him king. This story sounds like a Cinderella story (like a 16 seed beating a 1 seed at the start of March Madness). Yet David’s happily-ever-after is not the happily-ever-after we hope for. He will compete with Saul for years. He will create a large kingdom. He will take Bathsheba, a woman who is married to one of his soldiers, against her will. His kingdom will be rocked and torn apart by scandal. And he will lose family and friends in coup attempts and wars. David is chosen by God but the path he follows is full of dangers, hardships, joys, and failures

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 4th Sunday in Lent, 3/26/2017.