Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

June 8, 1888

The Anointing of David

By Mrs. E. G. White

Six miles south of Jerusalem, “the city of the great King,” was Bethlehem, where David was born more than a thousand years before the infant Jesus was cradled in the manger, and worshipped by the wise men from the East. Centuries before the advent of the Saviour of the world, David, in the freshness of boyhood, had kept watch of his flocks as they grazed on the open fields of Bethlehem. The simple shepherd boy sang the songs of his own composing, and the music of his harp made a sweet accompaniment to the melody of his fresh young voice. The Lord had chosen David, and had ordered his life that he might have an opportunity to train his voice, and cultivate his talent for music and poetry. The Lord was preparing him in his solitary life with his flocks, for the work he designed to commit to his trust in afteryears.

While David was thus living in the retirement of his humble shepherd's life, the Lord God was speaking about him to the prophet Samuel. “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.... Take a heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do; and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.” The elders accepted an invitation to the sacred feast, and Samuel called them to the sacrifice, and sanctified Jesse and his sons. The altar was built, and the sacrifice was ready. All the household of Jesse were present, with the exception of David, the youngest son, who had been left to guard the sheep, for it was not safe to leave the flocks unprotected.

When the sacrifice was ended, Samuel commenced his prophetic scrutiny of the noble-appearing sons of Jesse. Eliab was the eldest, and more nearly resembled Saul for stature and beauty than the others. His comely features and finely developed form attracted the attention of the prophet. As he looked upon his princely bearing, he thought, This is indeed the man whom God has chosen as successor to Saul, and he waited for the divine sanction that he might anoint him. But Jehovah did not look upon the outward appearance. The Lord's word to Samuel was, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance; but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

What a lesson was given in these words, not only to the prophet, but to the men and women of every generation. No outward beauty of appearance can recommend the soul to God. The wisdom and excellence revealed in the character and deportment, express the true beauty of the man; and it is the inner worth of the heart that determines our acceptance with the Lord of hosts. How deeply should we feel this great and solemn truth in the judgment of ourselves and others. We may learn from the mistake of Samuel, how vain is the estimation that rests on the beauty of the face or the nobility of the stature. We may see how incapable is man's wisdom of understanding the secrets of the heart, or of comprehending the counsels of God without special enlightenment from Heaven. The thoughts and ways of God in relation to his creatures are above our finite minds; but we may be assured that his children will be brought to fill the very place for which they are qualified, and will be enabled to accomplish the very work committed to their hands if they will submit their wills to God, that his beneficent plans may not be frustrated by the perversity of man. Man should stand back and let the Lord do with his own as it seems good, according to his infinite wisdom and mercy.

Eliab passed from the inspection of Samuel, and the six brothers who were in attendance at the service, followed in succession to be observed by the prophet, while all present beheld the scene with the deepest interest; but the Lord did not signify his choice of any of the seven sons of Jesse who stood before the man of God. With painful suspense Samuel had looked upon the last of the young men; the prophet was perplexed and bewildered. Turning to Jesse he inquired, “Are here all thy children?” and he answered, “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.” Samuel was relieved at once, for he knew that it was one of the sons of Jesse that had been selected by the Lord as the successor of Saul. In decided tones he commanded, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he come hither.”

The lonely shepherd on the hills of Bethlehem was startled by the hasty summons of the messenger who announced that the prophet had come to his father's house, and had sent for him. With surprise he questioned the reason that the prophet and judge of Israel should desire to see him; but without delay, he hastened to the altar. “Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.” As Samuel beheld with pleasure the handsome, manly, modest shepherd boy, the voice of the Lord spoke to him, saying, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” The prophet had accomplished his appointed work, and with a relieved heart he returned to Ramah.

The great honor conferred upon David did not serve to elate him. As humble and modest as before his anointing, the shepherd boy went back to the hills of Bethlehem, and watched and guarded his flocks as tenderly as ever. But with new inspiration he composed his melodies, and played upon his harp. Before him spread a landscape of rich and varied beauty. The vines, with their clustering fruit, brightened in the sunshine. The forest trees, with their green foliage, swayed in the breeze. He beheld the bright luminary of day flooding the heavens with light, coming forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. The bold summits of the hills reached toward the sky, and in the far-away distance rose the barren cliffs, and the blue heavens garnished by day with the splendid glory of the sun, and by night with the silvery radiance of the stars. And beyond was God. He could not see him, but his works were full of his praise, and daily revelations of the character and majesty of his Creator filled the young poet's heart with adoration and rejoicing. In contemplation of God and his works, the faculties of David's heart and mind were enlarging and strengthening for the work of his after-life.

The light of day, gilding forest and mountain, meadow and stream, carried the mind up to behold the Deity, the Father of lights, the Author of every good and perfect gift. What an enlargement of mind such contemplations brought to the simple shepherd. He was daily coming into a more intimate communion with God. His mind was constantly penetrating into new depths, for fresh themes to inspire his song, and to wake the music of his harp. He poured out the rich melody of his voice upon the air, and it echoed from the hills as if responsive to the rejoicing of the angels’ songs in Heaven.

David, in the beauty and might of his young manhood, was taking a high position with the noblest of the earth. His talents, as precious gifts from God, were employed to extol the glory of the divine Giver. His opportunities of contemplation and meditation served to enrich him with that wisdom and piety that made him beloved of God and angels. As he contemplated the perfections of his Creator, richer discoveries of God opened before his soul. As his admiration increased more and more, his heart thrilled with more fervent adoration and ecstasy. As obscure thoughts were illuminated, as difficulties were made plain, as contradictions were reconciled, as perplexities were harmonized, fresh songs of melody and praise were offered before God. Each ray of new light brought forth fresh bursts of rapture, and sweeter anthems of devotion, to the glory of God and the Redeemer. The love that moved him, the sorrows which beset him, the triumphs that attended him, were all themes for his active thought, and, as he beheld the love of God in all the providences of his life, his heart beat with more fervent adoration and gratitude, his voice rang out in a richer melody, his harp was swept with more exultant joy; and the shepherd boy proceeded from strength to strength, from knowledge to knowledge; for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him.

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