Fit to be used by God
Fear and stigma are “twins” whose (negative) impact is always severe. Samuel’s fear of being killed made him hesitant to carry out his duty (16:2). For the moment he had forgotten that God was bigger than Saul. The ceremony of anointing David as the successor of Saul also took a long time because of stigma, as Jesse didn’t invite his youngest son to the ceremony. Unfortunately these “twins” are still alive and well, and are still impacting the lives of even devout Christians.
When Samuel sanctified Jesse and his sons (verse 5) he was under the impression that all Jesse’s sons were present. Because David was so young, Jesse did not consider him important enough for this ceremony. Little did he know that this was actually David’s day.
Jesse’s regard for David is confirmed by his response to Samuel’s question in verse 11. Instead of a simple “No”, Jesse discarded him as being “the youngest … tending the sheep” (NIV). Jesse wanted Samuel to know that he considered the remaining child not fit for the vacancy left by Saul. To Jesse, David’s presence would have made no difference. But as it turned out this was God’s anointed (verse 12). To emphasise this, the spirit “came powerfully upon David from that day on” (verse 13 - NLT). Jesse must have been rendered speechless.
There is a big difference between how God and Samuel looked at things. In Chapter 16:1 Samuel still mourned for Saul, the king who had been rejected by God. In verse 6 he is excited about someone who looked impressive, but who was not God’s choice. Don’t we see the same thing in our churches, communities, workplaces and homes where some people are stigmatised and discriminated against simply because of the way they look or talk, their age or because of their HIV status? Maybe it is time to do an honest search of our souls and minds. May God then forgive us and help us to start afresh.
The achievements of David in his life should be a wake-up call to all of us who may be stigmatising people for whatever reason to realise that we are actually disadvantaging ourselves. The people we are stigmatising may be the very people God wants to use for the good of our churches, communities and individual lives.
To think about: Who are the people that we often disregard as not important? Is it the youth? The elderly? HIV positive people? How can we deal with the fear and stigma in our midst that keeps us from normal relationships with people younger or different from us?
Written by: Lloyd Khanyanga, FLAEM (Family Life AIDS and Education Ministry) Blantyre, Malawi. CABSA representative and Churches, Channels of Hope Facilitator.