The Signs of the Times


August 3, 1888

The Valor and Humility of David


After the rejection of Saul as king of Israel, David was anointed by the prophet as the future ruler of the people of God. But although he was aware of the high position which he was to occupy, he continued his employment as a simple shepherd, content to await the development of the Lord's plans in his own appointed time and way. ST August 3, 1888, par. 1

When King Saul realized that he had been rejected of God, and when he felt the force of the words of denunciation that had been addressed to him by the prophet, he was filled with bitter rebellion and despair. His health was affected by the mental worry in which he indulged, and at times he was almost insane with the thought of coming disaster to himself and his household. His counselors advised him to seek for the services of a skillful musician, in the hope that the soothing notes of a sweet instrument might calm his troubled spirit, and turn his thoughts away from his grief. ST August 3, 1888, par. 2

In the providence of God, David, as a skillful performer upon the harp, was brought before the king. The shepherd boy was employed to play before the ruler of Israel, and, if possible, to charm away the brooding melancholy which had settled, like a dark cloud, over the mind of Saul. The king was ever occupied in anticipating the ruin that had been brought upon his house by his own course of disobedience and rebellion. It was not true repentance that had bowed the proud head of Saul. He had no perception of the offensive character of his sin in the sight of God, and he did not arouse to reform his life and character. His heart was not humbled because he had disregarded the express injunctions and commands of the Ruler of the universe; therefore he did not return to his allegiance to the Head of all kingdoms, but brooded over what he thought was the injustice of God in depriving him of the throne of Israel, and in taking the succession to its privileges away from his posterity. He felt that the valor which he had displayed in encountering his enemies, should offset his sin of disobedience. He did not accept with meekness the chastisement of God; but his proud spirit became desperate, until he was on the verge of losing his reason. ST August 3, 1888, par. 3

David came before Saul, and played with all the skill that his long practice had given him; and his lofty and Heaven-inspired strains had the desired effect. The evil spirit seemed to be driven away, and the king was restored to his usual calmness. As David stood, for the first time, in the presence of Saul, there were many thoughts that filled the mind of the young musician, and served to fasten this scene upon his memory with an indelible impression. When his services were not required at the court of Saul, David returned to his flocks on the hills, and continued to maintain his simplicity of spirit and demeanor. Whenever it was necessary, he was recalled to minister before the king, to soothe the mind of the troubled monarch till the evil spirit departed from him. But although Saul expressed the greatest delight in David and his music, the young shepherd went from the king's house to the fields and hills of his pasture, with a sense of relief and gladness, to care for his flocks with a tender and faithful care. ST August 3, 1888, par. 4

David was growing in favor with God and man. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he now set his heart more thoroughly to do the will of God than ever before. He had new themes for thought. He had been in the court of the king, and had seen the responsibilities of royalty. He had discovered some of the temptations that beset the soul of Saul, and had found out some of the mysteries in the character and dealing of Israel's first king. He had seen the glory of royalty shadowed with a dark cloud of sorrow, and he knew that the household of Saul in their private life were far from happy. All these things served to bring serious thoughts to him who had been anointed to be king over Israel. While he was absorbed in deep meditation, and harassed by thoughts of anxiety, he turned to his harp, and called forth strains that elevated his mind to the Author of every good, and the dark clouds which seemed to arise in the horizon of the future were dispelled and dispersed. ST August 3, 1888, par. 5

On one occasion, as the evening shadows gathered, and he laid aside his harp, he saw a dark form moving stealthily upon his flock. It was a bear, fierce with hunger, that sprang upon the sheep of his care; but David did not flee for his life. He felt that it was the very hour when his charges needed his protection. He lifted his heart to God in prayer for wisdom and help, that he might do his duty in this time of peril. With his strong arm he laid the bear in death at his feet. At another time he discovered a lion with a bleeding lamb between his jaws. Without hesitation the youthful shepherd engaged in a desperate encounter. His arm, nerved by the living God, forced the beast to release its bleeding victim, and as it turned, mad with disappointment, upon David, he buried his hand in its mane and killed the fierce invader. His experience in these matters proved the heart of David, and developed in him courage, and fortitude, and faith. God was teaching David lessons of trust. As Moses was trained for his work, so the Lord was fitting the son of Jesse to become the leader and guide of his chosen people. In his watch-care for his flocks, he was gaining an appreciation of the care that the great Shepherd has for the sheep of his pasture. ST August 3, 1888, par. 6

When war was declared between Israel and the Philistines, three of the sons of Jesse went to follow Saul in the army of Israel; but David remained at home. On one occasion his father sent him with a message to visit the camp of Saul, and to learn whether or not his elder brothers were still in safety and health. Jesse sent with his son a present to his absent ones, which was to be divided among their companions in the camp. ST August 3, 1888, par. 7

As David drew near to the army, he heard the sound of commotion, as if an engagement was about to begin. He felt his spirit stirred within him, and he hastened on his way. And “the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.” Israel and the Philistines were drawn up in array, army against army. David ran unto the army, and came and saluted his brothers. While he was talking with them, Goliath, the bold champion of the Philistines, came forth, and with insulting language, defied Israel, and challenged them to provide a man from their ranks who would meet him in single combat. He repeated his blasphemous challenge, and David heard him, and when he saw that all Israel was afraid of him, and would do nothing, and that his defiance was hurled in their faces day after day, without arousing anyone to go forth and silence the voice of the boaster, his spirit was stirred within him. He was fired with zeal to preserve the honor of the living God, and the credit of the children of Israel. He could not endure to see this bold idolater permitted day after day to mock the chosen of the Lord, without making an effort to overthrow his proud vaunting and derision. ST August 3, 1888, par. 8

The armies of Israel were becoming depressed and discouraged. They said one to another, “Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up; and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel.” To be sure that he understood them, David inquired of the men that stood nearest to him, “What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ST August 3, 1888, par. 9

Eliab, David's eldest brother, when he heard these words, knew well the feelings that were stirring the young man's soul. Even as a shepherd of the flocks of Bethlehem he had manifested daring, courage, and strength not easily accounted for; and the mysterious visit of Samuel to their father's house, and his silent departure, had awakened in the minds of the brothers suspicions of the real object of his visit. David was not regarded with the respect and love due to his integrity and brotherly tenderness. He was looked upon as merely a stripling shepherd, and now the question which he asked was regarded by Eliab as a reflection cast upon his own cowardice in not silencing the giant of the Philistines. In passionate language the elder brother exclaimed, “Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” The answer of David was decided and respectful: “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” ST August 3, 1888, par. 10

Someone carried the words of David to the king, and the youth was sent for, to appear in the royal presence. Saul listened with astonishment to the words of the shepherd, as he said, “Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul strove earnestly to turn David from his purpose, saying, “Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for thou art but a youth, and he is a man of war from his youth.” The young man was not to be turned from his desire. He remained firm, courageous, and determined, only waiting for the permission of the king. He replied in a simple, unassuming way, relating his experiences while tending the sheep. “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock; and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.” ST August 3, 1888, par. 11