A Heart for God Part 1


The first missionary biography I read was that of David Livingstone. We lived in England at the time. Dad was the Director for British Youth Christ and on most Sundays, he was away speaking. Because we had only one car, my brother and I would take the bus from Hampden Park to Eastbourne and transfer to the Old Town bus that had a stop right in front of Victoria Drive Baptist Church. 

It was there in a Scripture memory contest that I won the Ladybird book that bears Livingstone’s name and well remember reading the thrilling account of the Scottish doctor in Africa who served with the London Missionary Society. Even at that young age, his life’s story struck a chord with me. Livingstone was forever changed when he prayed, “I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

The doctor understood that total commitment to unreserved service for God is the path to fulfillment in life. Livingstone’s attitude mirrored that of the young shepherd, David, in ancient Israel. It’s Bible history most Christians will recall from Sunday school (Read the text in 1 Samuel 16).


David may have known that Samuel was in town. Nothing about the day’s routine, however, suggested an event that would powerfully impact world history. His brothers had been told to prepare for a sacrificial offering at the invitation of Samuel, Israel’s judge (v. 5). David was not included.

Everything changed, when he saw his father’s servant running across the field calling him home.

Samuel’s purpose in Bethlehem went beyond offering a special sacrifice. He was on a mission from God to anoint the next king of Israel. God specifically directed Samuel to the household of Jesse with instructions that one of his sons had been chosen.

Jesse presented each son to Samuel as requested. Samuel was in a hurry. He was in mortal danger just for being in Bethlehem. If Saul heard he was anointing a new king, Samuel’s life would be in jeopardy (v. 2). Without taking time to evaluate their qualifications, Samuel was ready to anoint the eldest son Eliab, on sight.

God had to remind Samuel that He looks into the heart to see the true measure of a man (v. 7). And, while his stature and good looks were obvious, Eliab didn’t have what God wanted (v. 28). Neither did Abinadab, Shammah or the others four sons Jesse paraded before Samuel.

After a moment of confusion, Samuel realized not all sons were present. When questioned, Jesse dissed David. Surely David was too young, too small. When pressed, Jesse admitted his youngest was tending the sheep; and then, looking across the fields, pointed to the lone figure.

Samuel immediately ordered that David be summoned. Samuel may have been surprised by his first real look at Jesse’s youngest son. David wasn’t just young, he had a ruddy complexion and red hair indicated by the Hebrew adjective admoni. David’s cheerful demeanor and physique may have impressed Samuel. Ultimately, these external qualities were irrelevant.

God advised Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” (v. 12)

“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (v. 13).

Dura-Europos Synagogue_Samuel Anoints David_2


Samuel implicitly obeyed God’s leading. From all outward appearances, David’s brothers looked more qualified—were older—more experienced—even served in Saul’s army, but God overlooked them. Instead, God chose the youngest—the brother they thought would never be anything more than a shepherd (v. 28). His brothers were right.

David was destined to serve the Lord as the shepherd-king of Israel. He had developed strengths and positive character traits in the shepherd’s fields that set him apart from his own brothers and elevated him above King Saul.

Samuel’s words to Saul announcing that his kingdom would end were straightforward:

“The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (13:14).

The apostle Paul confirms God’s choice of David saying,

“He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:22).

What did David possess that his brothers did not?

David had a heart for God and was willing to do all that God required of him.

What can we take away from the biblical account of David’s anointing that is often overlooked because of familiarity? 

  • First, youth is no obstacle to a vibrant relationship with God. Actually, there are no age barriers.
  • Second, loving God and trusting Him in our everyday realities is a lifelong process that builds character and strength to meet greater challenges.
  • Third, others may not notice or expect great things from you, but God knows what you are capable of achieving and desires to work through you!

Choosing to cultivate a heart for God is the first step to becoming usable in His service. Then, when God calls you to a task—no matter where He may lead, you’ll be ready to move forward and do amazing things!

Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1) Samuel anoints David, Dura-Europos Synagogue, Syria, panel WC3  [Public domain/US/Wikimedia]