David: The Spirit-Formed King

The day began like any other. David, a teenage boy and the youngest of Jessie’s eight sons was doing what none of the older brothers wanted to do—watching the dumb sheep. David honestly did not mind; he enjoyed the freedoms and the rigors of outdoor life. But more than anything, David treasured the time alone that he spent with his heavenly Father. Whether he was staring at the stars, resting by a meadow pool, or singing songs that swelled from the depths of his heart, to David, solitude meant time alone with God.

“Your father wants you immediately!” The servant’s words bellowed with a sense of urgency that could not be ignored. Was there a crisis at home? Had he done something wrong? Did somebody get hurt? The only way to find out was to run home—and so run he did.

Sweating and out of breath, David ran to the house to find a scene unlike anything he had envisioned. The first face he saw was that of his father, his countenance displaying both confusion and concern. Then there were his brothers who all looked annoyed. Siblings know each other well and David could tell that Eliab—the oldest—was beyond inconvenienced. If not for the crowd gathered, an eruption of some sort would have already engulfed the family in chaos.

Then David saw him—the old man with the long gray beard and priest-like robe. Could it be? Was this really the great prophet Samuel staring at him with eyes that seemed to pierce his very thoughts? A smile quickly formed on the seer’s lips as he shouted with excitement, “That’s him! God has chosen this youngster to be the next king of Israel!”

Before David could say or do anything, Samuel had opened a flask and begun pouring oil over his head—all while making crazy statements about battles and victories and kingdoms. As the oil flowed over the teenager’s locks and dripped down his face, David felt a sacred Presence fill his entire being. The God he had worshipped for so many years from a distance suddenly felt near—nearer than could be explained. A sacrificial meal followed to culminate a day that would forever mark the young man’s memory.

Then, as quickly as the bewildering event had begun, it was over. Well aware that the wrath of his brothers was about to spill over, David readily obeyed his father’s command to get back to guarding the sheep. The events of a few short hours would give him more than enough to ponder for many days to come.

So it was that God began the process of forming the most beloved king that Israel would ever know. Little did David realize how crazy and intense that process would be. The promised crown would not become his for another 20 chaotic years.

As interesting as David’s story may be, it’s not just about the rise of one man from obscurity to kingship. The Bible says that all Christians are “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6) and so the development of David’s character is in many ways typical of the work that God seeks to do in the lives of all of His children. It is a process that some call “spiritual formation”.

There is no clear definition for spiritual formation. In fact, many Christians really don’t know what it means in spite of the fact that the Holy Spirit always seeks to form their lives into the image of Christ.

In my next post, I’ll define spiritual formation as we embark upon a fairly long series about the life of David and its relevance to God’s work in our individual lives. We have much more in common with this ancient Spirit-formed king than many of us even begin to realize!