It was a hot, sticky summer day. The kids in the neighbourhood were gathered around a net in the middle of our cul-de-sac choosing teams for the next exciting round of street hockey. I was watching from under the shade of a maple tree not too far away, not the least bit interested in playing hockey. The boys gathered round and someone made two team captains. And then the choosing began. One captain would choose a player for his team, and then the next. Until my brother and his best friend, equally lacking in sporty skills were last. The captains rolled their eyes and just pointed. They were chosen last.
Not too long after that afternoon in the summer sun, I was standing in a gymansium at school. Waiting to be chosen for teams with the two sportiest kids in the class as captains. As the kids were chosen I stood shuffling my feet, head down. I knew what was coming. When I looked up, all of my classmates were chosen and as always, I was last. Dead last. The captain sighed and turned their back, waving me over to join their team. It wasn’t hard to see they wished they’d not have been the unlucky ones to have had to choose me.
Being chosen last is not a nice feeling. I can understand not being chosen for sports teams as I am not in the least bit sporty. What is more difficult to understand is being chosen last for other things in life – big things. Chosen last for the work promotion, with my name at the bottom of the list. Last choice for that party invitation – only making the invitee list because the host was made to add my name. Chosen last to be seated at a special event.
When you are repeatedly chosen last, it can wear you down. Being chosen last can be heartbreaking. Because in the grand scheme of things, being chosen last leaves you feeling unloved, uninvited, and unimportant.
David was chosen last. In 1 Samuel 16, we see the Lord sending Samuel out to find a future King of Isreal among Jesse’s sons. Samuel looked at Jesse’s sons and thought for sure Eliab was going to be the next King. But in verse 7, the Lord says to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” How I love that verse. It speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Samuel continues looking for the King, meeting each one of Jesse’s sons. But he gets through the sons and hasn’t found the King. This is not what the Lord told him would happen, so he asks Jesse if he has any other sons. Jesse admits he has one more son, but says he’s busy tending the animals in the fields. David was forgotten. His father hadn’t even called him in when it was time to present his sons for such an honour.
I wonder what was going through David’s mind when he made his way back to the house to have a meal and be presented in front of Samuel. Did he know he had been chosen last and forgotten by his father? We don’t know. All we know is that he was chosen by someone far greater than his earthly father, for an important job that far exceeded anything his brothers would ever accomplish. My often unchosen heart loves this.
But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man whom God said, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” Acts 13:22
God chose Him first. God looked at His heart and saw it was pure. Even though his father dismissed him because of His age, God saw his potential and his character and He had a plan for him.
David – the shepherd boy – would go on to write many Psalms that we still read. Psalms that breathe life into our hearts. Psalms that we pray over ourselves and others.
David – the shepherd boy – would go on to be the most well known and revered King that Isreal ever had. He made plans to rebuild the temple, efficiently organized the Isrealite armies, and made worshiping the One True God the official law.
David – the shepherd boy – would be part of the family of Jesus the Messiah, who was a descendant of King David.
God could see all of that in the heart and life of a shepherd boy, caring for sheep in the wilderness near his family home. If He could see these plans for David, He can see plans for us as well. David may have felt unloved, uninvited and unimportant as he was tending the sheep. But it was when he was a shepherd that God chose him first.
We might feel unloved, uninvited and unimportant where we are in life right now. We may be chosen last for many things. But God sees our hearts and He has a plan for our lives. We might be chosen last, but the King of Heaven has chosen us first.