Even superficial knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures leads to recalling vividly some of the stories of David, Israel’s greatest king. His military successes are legendary; his establishing a capital city and center of worship in Jerusalem is critical in Israel’s history; his family stories, rivalries, and his own arrogant infidelity are of mythic renown. David holds for Israel and for all who know the stories a contrast between the ideal king and the very human person. This is, perhaps, the reason for his place of primacy in Israel’s heart.
Our lectionary this year provides us with several of the stories of David. This Sunday we begin with his anointing by Samuel to be Israel’s next king. There are several lessons in this one story: Samuel’s utter dependence on Yahweh to lead him to the right person; the unlikely choice of David as the youngest son in a family imbedded in a culture of primogeniture; the promise that the spirit of the Lord will come “mightily” to equip and empower a person for any mission God calls that person to do; the implicit option that God can change God’s mind, or regret having made a decision; and the tender, eternal truth that “the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Any one of these, coming almost parenthetically in so few verses of scripture, is a sermon.