Waiting for David: 1 Samuel 16

Felicia's Duluth-based David

Felicia's Duluth-based David

 This is the first of a three-part series by Felicia Schneiderhan on 1 & 2 Samuel.

A turning point in my faith came when I stopped disagreeing and debating with everything I read in the Bible (“Nobody lives to 800!”). I began reading the Bible as a story of how people relate to God. And then I opened Samuel, which is the story of how I relate to God.

Samuel, the prophet, is mourning because the first king, Saul, is not doing so hot. God tells Samuel to go see Jesse of Bethlehem, that one of his sons will be the next king.

In Bethlehem, Jesse parades out seven sons. They all look like strong men who would make a good king and Samuel’s ready to pick one. But God tells Samuel, don’t focus on outward appearance – God looks at the heart; and as each of the seven pass in front of him, Samuel knows he’s not the one. When all seven have gone by, Samuel asks Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

When I heard this read in Mass one Sunday, I laughed out loud. Samuel has just seen seven fit, strong, intelligent young men, and he has the gall to ask Jesse, “Um, do you have any more sons?”

Of course, there is one – the youngest, out tending the sheep. Samuel tells Jesse to send for him, that they won’t sit down till he gets there. Maybe you know the rest of the story – ruddy little David appears, God tell Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one,” and David starts his journey to becoming Israel’s king.

We never know what we’ll find in the Bible that we will relate to, what story will open up the text for us, show us how applicable it is in our lives today. For me, this story suddenly made the entire Bible very alive, very current.

I am like Samuel in nearly every decision I make. I get nervous about making important decisions and, afraid I’ll chose wrongly, or that I won’t get what I need, I’ll grab the first thing I see because it looks fine on the outside. My impatience is based on fear and selfishness. I fear the space of not knowing, and so I make a decision as quickly as possible to fill it up.

But I am learning to wait. I am learning to go where God leads me, and then wait for His choice to appear.

Last month, my husband and I moved from Chicago to northern Minnesota. For two months I searched for a place to live and kept coming up with nothing. Things would seem fine out the outside, but something would tell me, wait, wait. And then, two weeks before we were set to move, when I was starting to get a little panicked, we found a place more perfect than we could have imagined. It’s better than anything I could have requested from God, reminding me that His will for me is always better than any laundry list of requests I could write.

Like Samuel, I have to remember just to keep standing until the right king appears.
***
Felicia Schneiderhan is a freelance writer based in Duluth, Minnesota.

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