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Small Beginnings


In the hour right before the sun comes up the Lord often floods my heart with new melodies. Last week when I was watering Papa’s  flocks at the brook, I started working on a new song. I keep parchment and quill with me in the fields. That’s where I get my best ideas for songs. I keep them in the bag with my supper and breakfast.

Honestly, I’m not even sure I can take credit for many of the poems I write. These songs and poems just come to me in the quiet hours of the night watch. I’ll be talking to the LORD about life—you know—like my family—or something scary that happened—and the most beautiful words come to mind. Sometimes the words come with music, and other times the music comes on a different day. I have a whole collection of words that have no music.

I’m working on a new song right now. This is what I have so far:

My heart is steadfast, O God; 
I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. 

Awake, harp and lyre; 
I will awaken the dawn! 

I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples, 
And I will sing praises to You among the nations. 
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, 
And Your truth reaches to the skies. 

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, 
And Your glory above all the earth. 

Sometimes the music comes in the last hour before dawn. It’s really hard to stay awake waiting for the sun to rise, especially during those long winter nights. That’s when I take out my lyre and start playing with tunes and rhythms and the LORD gives me new melodies. That’s how it happened this morning.

As I played this new tune on my lyre, over and over again, fitting in the words and fiddling with the rhythm, something caught my eye. By now it was the middle of the morning.

This time of year I like to keep the flocks up in the north fields, between my papa’s house in Bethlehem and the city of the king, Jerusalem. As I sat with my back to an old olive tree on the hillside facing the house, I noticed a procession heading down the road, coming out of Jerusalem. It was too far away for me to see who it was, or even how many were in their party. But it seemed like something important.

It looked like they were headed toward the center of Bethlehem. They marched past the gate that leads to my house and kept on going toward town.

I went back to my strumming, but I couldn’t help wondering what was going on down there. I’ve seen lots of parades and processions heading toward Jerusalem, but not many headed to my little town. Nothing ever happens in Bethlehem. It's the most boring town in all Israel.

It wasn’t long before I saw a runner heading from the direction of town toward my father’s house. From where I sat, I could see him waiting at the front door.

I was getting more and more curious. Did this have anything to do with the group that headed into town? Why did they want my father?

What happened next seemed even stranger. All my brothers gathered around this runner. First one came out of the house, then another. Next, two came from the shed behind the house where father keeps his tools. The other three came down from the barn. They must have been milking. Soon I could count all seven of my brothers, and Papa following this stranger back toward the center of Bethlehem. A few minutes later, Mama followed, hurrying to catch up.

This week is the first time all of us have been together since Passover. My three oldest brothers just returned from the recent battle with Amalek. They bring home such wonderful stories. Mama doesn’t like it when they tell stories of the war at the dinner table, but I sure do. Last night was the best yet. While we sat around after dinner, my brother Shammah, told us what happened after they clobbered Amalek. Samuel the prophet took a sword and killed their king right in front of the whole army.

“He seemed angry with King Saul,” Shammah told us. “From where we were standing you couldn’t hear much of what was going on, but Samuel looked furious. He was pointing and shouting. Then King Saul fell to his knees. It looked like he was pleading with the old prophet. The next thing I knew, Samuel took Saul’s sword, turned and started walking toward the enemy king.”

“He cut him in pieces before our eyes. It was amazing,” Eliab added. He’s the eldest. He’s not a storyteller himself but loves to throw in some bits when Shammah's talking.

That was when Mama realized I was still in the room. “Don’t you have some sheep to tend?” she said to me. Then to my brothers, she said, “Don’t tell these horrid stories in front of your little brother.”

That’s when I blurted, “I'm not just a little brother. I’m fourteen and a man now, too. I killed a lion last week.”

Mama looked shocked. “You what?”

Shammah laughed, mocking me. “Sure you did, David. Are you sure you weren’t dreaming under that old olive tree again?”

“I did,” I said. “I was out in the fields three days ago when a lion came and took a lamb from the flock. I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth. When he rose up against me, I grabbed him by his beard and I struck him and I killed him.”

Eliab was laughing now, too. “David, get back to your lyre and your little sheep choir. Leave the fighting to us men.”

“Boys,” my mother said with her hands on her hips, fists clenched, “you leave little Davy alone.” Then she turned to me, wagging her finger, “David,” she scolded, “stop telling tales.”

“Maaamaaa,” I whined, “please don’t call me ‘little Davy,’ you know I hate that,” I replied. “And I’m not telling tales. A great lion came across the eastern fields, jumped the fence and went right for the lamb. It was the lamb that was just born three weeks ago.

“There was a bear that tried to attack the flock when I had them down at the brook a few weeks ago. I killed him, too, with my sling. It only took three stones.”

Now all my brothers we groaning and shaking their heads.

“David,” Papa jumped in, “get out to your sheep before your brothers try to take you apart.”

It’s so frustrating. Just because I’m the youngest, they don’t believe anything I tell them. They don’t know how dangerous it can be out here, and how the Lord comes to my side in every kind of trouble.

As I pondered last night's conversation, time passed. I started wondering what was happening in town. It seems like I miss everything while I sit out in the fields tending my father's sheep. My big brothers get in on all the action.

I went back to my tune, but before I had gotten all the way through it, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was that runner again. He headed from the house up toward me.

As he approached, he called out, “Are you, David?”

“What?—Uhh—Yes—I’m David—Yes,” I said, a bit nervously.

“Come with me,” he said as he turned back toward town.

“Why?” I called to him but I don’t think he even heard me. He was on the move.

I tucked my lyre back in its satchel and leaned it against the olive tree. I had to run to catch him.

“What’s going on?—Why do you need me?—Who's in town?”

“Just come,” was his only answer.

As we approached the center of Bethlehem, I realized that everyone was there, men and women. The whole town filled the square. In the center of the crowd stood the old prophet, Samuel. I’ve seen him a few times in Jerusalem at the tabernacle during Passover. I noticed smoke rising from where the south road leaves town. They built an altar and had an ox tied nearby.

Then I saw my brothers standing in a line from eldest to youngest facing Samuel. I headed over toward my brothers. Just then, Papa, who was standing with the prophet, called to me.

"David, join us over here,” he said.

I turned into a statue. For a few seconds, I couldn’t move at all. Why did I have to go out into the center of everything? My brother Abinadab gave me a nudge and I turned and slowly walked toward them, not sure what to expect.

As soon as I got to them, the prophet looked into my eyes. He studied me for what felt like an hour. Then he said to my father, “This is the one.” Without breaking his gaze he said, “Get on your knees, son.”

I could hear a few of my brothers take in their breath. My mother was crying. I was still not sure what was going on, but I knelt down before Samuel.

“Papa, what’s going on?” I asked.

He looked at me with a strange smile on his face. It was the kind of look he gave me when I read him one of my poems—like he was proud of me.

“Go ahead and kneel, David, it’s going to be alright,” he assured me.

I smelled the oil before I felt it. Samuel poured his horn of oil out over my head. It ran down my cheeks and between my eyes, then down my shoulders and over all my clothes. As the oil poured out, I sensed the Spirit of the Lord filling me. I’ve known the Spirit’s touch before, but never like this. Like a flood, peace and confidence filled every part of me.

I looked up at Samuel and asked, “What have you done?”

“The Lord has chosen you to replace Saul as king over all Israel,” he answered.

“Replace Saul? King? But I’m just a boy,” I said.

“No son, today you are a king,” Samuel said. “And now we must offer a sacrifice to the Lord."

I didn’t know what to say, but then I remembered the song I’d been working on all morning. As we walked over to where Samuel was going to offer a sacrifice, I started singing:

My heart is steadfast, O God; 
I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. 

Awake, harp and lyre; 
I will awaken the dawn! 

I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples, 
And I will sing praises to You among the nations. 
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, 
And Your truth reaches to the skies. 

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, 
And Your glory above all the earth. 

Those around me picked up the last two lines and began to sing with me as we gathered around the altar.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, 
And Your glory above all the earth. 

I don’t understand how this can be. Saul is the king, and I’m just a shepherd boy. He leads thousands of men, I lead a few sheep. I’m just a kid from a tiny town. How will the Lord fulfill this promise?


To read the original story, see 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 108:1-5,
and 1 Samuel 17:34-35.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2016

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon.

This morning I was reading along in 2 Samuel 14. I had forgotten to ask the Lord to open my eyes before I started so I stopped at about verse 12. It was a story that was not ringing a bell, so I stopped and said to the Lord something like “will you show me what this is about.”

Aren’t you impressed with the way I speak to God – LOL – but hey, that was really about it.

Now a caveat here – in the past I have usually read in the KJV, so this was a bit different in the NASB but I am sure I have never seen this verse before. Then I looked at the NIV and was blown away by what I found – check out the 2nd half of 2 Samuel 14:14

But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

In the context David was estranged from Absalom, his beloved son and Joab was using an allegory to evoke his emotions and allow Absalom to return.

But look at this verse!

God devises ways to reconcile those estranged from Him. [Tweet This] He is not looking to kill them but reunite.

Today, is there someone you are praying for who is estranged from the Lord?

Remind Him using His word, the way Joab sent a reminder to the King with this story.

Clearly God’s plan is and always has been Jesus. The cross is the way he devised to reconcile the wanderers to Himself. But today, He is still planning and executing His plan to draw the wayward ones to Himself.

Lord, I know your heart is planning ways to draw those I care for home. Help me to join with you, partner with you in your plan of reconciliation and restoration for those I love.

Hey – thanks for stopping in today.

Take time to Worship Him and sit under His word this weekend. Be in fellowship, and love one another.

Thanks for reading today.

photo credit: John-Morgan via photo pin cc


Last Sunday Pastor Troy (at Pascack Bible Church in Hillsdale, NJ) was preaching out of 1 Samuel. Part 2 of a 2 part series contrasting Saul and David.

While he was reading in the life of David about when Samuel anointed him as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16) my attention was caught by a little phrase in the story that I have never noticed before. This was a surprise in it self since I have been working through 1 and 2 Samuel verse by verse in my personal devotions for a few months.

But God has a way of making bells go off when He wants me to get something. So there I was in Church reading along with the scripture and BAM. – Here it is:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7 NASB emphasis mine)

I have probably heard a dozen sermons on the 2nd half of this verse. That is not what caught my eye. Honestly every time I have heard or read this story, this verse went down like this:

It’s not Eliab because I have not chosen him. But the verse says I have rejected him.

Think about the difference for a minute.

‘I have not chosen’, could mean ‘I have not considered,’ but ‘I have rejected’ implies that God had already judged Eliab (David’s oldest brother) and found him wanting.

This got me thinking about a few other verses in John Chapter 3. If you, like me, grew up in Church you probably know the first part of this by heart, but did you ever notice John 3:18?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV emphasis mine)

My point here is that outside of relationship with Jesus Christ, God has already considered our life and found us wanting. We stand condemned, doomed, damned! In Jesus – in a life marked by His Lordship and salvation – we shall not perish, but have eternal life.

And Oh Boy what a life it is. Joy unspeakable and full of glory! Yah God.

This post is not meant to be a downer, but rather an eye opener.

God is Holy, and there is nothing you can do or be on your own to get out from under this condemnation. Jesus was sent for this very reason. You need a savior, and He can be yours today. [Tweet This]

Don’t know where to start? Check out my post from a couple days ago called “The Un-Keepable Law.” There is a simple path at the end of that post that will get you started.

Thanks for stopping in today. I hope this helps! Tell me if it does!


photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photo pin cc

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