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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.


Many Waters - SoS header

I thought I was done with Song of Songs chapter three, but then I ran into this beauty, and realized there is a ton of buried treasure here. So stick with me one more week, won’t you?

Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of his gladness of heart.

Song of Songs 3:11

Our maiden is finally married to the man of her dreams. She has entered into a covenant relationship with this Shepherd King. No longer is she the invited dinner guest who comes for a visit and stays in the guest chambers, but now she is family.

No longer does she look at what her Husband is doing and wonder if she is worthy or up to the task. Now she is part of His life for keeps.

She has come through some trials and testing to get to this place, hasn’t she?

In chapter one she was faced with her own sin. She plugged into ministry and failed to keep her own house in order.

In chapter two, along with an increase in intimacy, she also faced the fear and timidity it took to step into the life she longed for.

Remember her two part desire, draw me and we will run.

He has drawn her to His side, and now they are ready to run.

We see her response to this vast outpouring of love and protection He has lavished on her on their wedding day, is to turn her eyes toward ministry. She is now the one doing the drawing, and this outward facing posture will continue and grow as her life with the Master endures and as her intimacy deepens.

She calls to the “daughters of Zion” and invites them to “gaze on King Solomon.”

We have seen this man depicted as first Shepherd and now King. This is an interesting contrast. Solomon as the third real king of Israel would understand the concept of a shepherd king since his earthly father was of course the classic shepherd king of all time, David.

David demonstrated as a boy, standing before then king, Saul, that when Israel thought they needed a king what they really needed was a shepherd. When they thought they needed a warrior with sword and spear, what they really needed as a boy with a sling and a stone. I digress.

Today we see a King, Solomon to be exact, standing here as a type of Christ at His own wedding, the wedding of the Lamb, to His beautiful bride the Church, and in particular, you, His beloved.

The maiden, now bride, calls to those in the Church, and in her circles of influence to come and gaze on the beauty of this King.

The term Christian is falling out of favor in our day, possibly due to the way we have tossed the name around and put it on everything from music and tee-shirts, to TV channels and news services. Many have turned to the title Christ follower, and I’m OK with that, or perhaps Jesus lover, which I like too. But in reality what we used to call a Christian is a person who has entered into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. The only real Christian is one who is the bride of Christ, a full partner in the ministry in which Christ walked and into which we are commissioned.

As our maiden enters into covenant, she takes up the cause, and begins to see others and their need to enter into this covenant as well. So her call to the others in her circles – come gaze on my Wonderful Husband!

This verse reminds me of what the writer to the Hebrew Christians says:

photo credit: helgabj via photopin cc
photo credit: helgabj via photopin cc

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

1 – It has the same exhortation – fix your eyes on Jesus

2 – It explains one of the joys set before Jesus; the day we would say “I do.”

There comes a day when we sit at a heavenly wedding feast! In the mean while, let’s partner with the Lover of our souls, and bring many brothers and sisters to that table.

Lord, I am so glad you called me, and allowed me to hear your call. Use me to call others to this wonderful covenant.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you next week.

Meanwhile… Shine where you are plugged in.



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