Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos, and more specifically, is found in the first chapter of the book. This particular passage of Scripture begins the prophetic discourse that proceeded forth from the prophet Amos. The more I consider the prophetic ministries of the ancient Hebrew prophets, the more I am intrigued by where those prophets came from. As you begin reading this passage of Scripture, you will quickly notice that Amos wasn’t taken from the school of the prophets, but was among the herdsmen of Tekoa. TAKEN FROM THE PEN TO THE PALACE! TAKEN FROM THE PEN TO THE PROPHETIC! What I absolutely love about the first verse of this passage of Scripture is that Amos was taken from among the herdsmen of Tekoa, thus indicating that his profession was an incredibly natural one. There was absolutely nothing extraordinary about Amos that would position him to stand before the Lord and faithfully serve him as a prophet. What I absolutely love about this passage is that Amos seems to join a very specific group of men who were themselves taken from among the herd and from the pen so to speak. If you study Scripture, you will find that Amos joins at least two other prominent men who were chosen and taken from their role and place as working among the sheep and the herd to which they had been entrusted. What I absolutely love about the first verse of the prophetic book of Amos is how the Lord took Amos from that which was at that time a seemingly ordinary profession, and ordained and appointed him to stand before him as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord took Amos from that place where he watched over, cared for and tended sheep, and caused him to stand before Him as His holy servant and vessel. I absolutely love that the Lord didn’t always take the noble, or the elite, or even the prominent men and women in Scripture to stand before Him and accomplish His purposes within a specific generation. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthian congregation. Consider if you will the words the apostle Paul wrote and spoke beginning with the twenty-sixth verse of the first chapter—“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:16-31).
To help illustrate this point even further, it’s worth journeying to the seventy-eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms. It is within this passage of Scripture that we discover how David wasn’t chosen from the palace to rule and reign over the people of God as king. If you begin reading with the seventieth verse of this chapter, you will find something absolutely incredible concerning David, and how he became anointed to stand and serve before the Lord as king of Israel—“He chose David also His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob His people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfullness of his hands” (Psalm 78:70-72). This reference found within the book of the Psalms is absolutely incredible, for it reveals that when David was chosen by the Lord to rule, reign and govern His people as king over the nation of Israel, he wasn’t taken from the palace, or even from the households of the nobles. In fact, when you study the history of David you will find that he was the son of Jesse and was from the small town of Bethlehem which was found within the tribe of Judah. One thing I so absolutely love about the Lord’s choosing of David is that the Lord not only took him from among the sheep of the field, but the Lord also took him from the small city of Bethlehem to stand before Him as king of the nation of Israel. In all reality, there was absolutely nothing prominent regarding David that would set him apart as king over the nation of Israel. This, however, is truly remarkable, for when the Lord searched for the next king of the nation of Israel, He not only found him in the small town of Bethlehem, but the Lord found him among the sheep in the field. THE LORD WHO FINDS YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! THE LORD WHO FINDS YOU IN THE MIDST OF THE ORDINARY! THE LORD WHO FINDS YOU IN THE MIDST OF THE MUNDANE! THE LORD WHO FINDS YOU IN THE MIDST OF FAITHFULNESS! THE LORD WHO FINDS YOU IN THE MIDST OF RESPONSIBILITY! When I consider how the Lord chose David to stand before Him and serve His purpose as king over the nation of Israel, I absolutely love that the Lord went to the smallest town within the tribe of Judah, and went even further to one of the fields in Bethlehem where the youngest of the sons of Jesse was faithfully watching over his father’s sheep.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS OUT IN THE FIELD! THE LORD SEES WHAT HAPPENS OUT IN THE FIELD! One of the greatest realities surrounding the choosing of David, is that the Lord not only watched over David as he shepherded and watched over the sheep of his father in the fields, but the Lord also watched him faithfully watch over and shepherd those sheep. In order to fully and completely understand this reality, it is necessary to turn and direct our attention to both the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Old Testament book of First Samuel. It’s in the sixteenth chapter of the book of First Samuel where we first discover the choosing and anointing of David. Consider the scene that is written and contained within this passage of Scripture—“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Elizabeth, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, 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. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this. Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, 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. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah” (1 Samuel 16:6-13). There is actually something quite astounding within this passage of Scripture that reveals something truly wonderful concerning the Lord’s choosing of David. The significance is actually found in the words the Lord spoke to Samuel when Elizabeth—Jesse’s oldest son passed before him. The Lord spoke unto Samuel these words—“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not asman seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). THE LORD’S CHOICE IS DIFFERENT! THE CHOOSING OF THE KING IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND! I WILL NOT DO IT AS I DID IT BEFORE! That which truly reveals the significance of the words which the Lord spoke is actually found in how Samuel described Saul when he would be taken from among the inhabitants of the land and anointed as king over Israel: “Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Ariel, the son of Zebron, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjaminte, a mighty man of power. And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:1-2).
When you study the choosing and anointing of Saul as the king of Israel, you will discover something very unique about him—something the Lord would not consider when he would anoint the next king of Israel. We are first introduced to Saul as being a choice young man, a goodly man, and one who from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. This is significant, for when you find Samuel standing before Jesse to discover whom the Lord would anoint as the next king of Israel, you will find that the Lord instructed Samuel not to look on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, for the Lord had refused him. When you examine the choosing of Saul as king over Israel, you will find that he was chosen based on the height of his stature, as Saul was described as from his shoulders upward he was higher than any of the people. David, however, would not bear the same semblance and stature as Saul, however, for when looking for the next king of Israel, the Lord would not base it on outward appearance at all. When Samuel stood before Jesse and as Jesse began passing his sons before the prophet to see which one from among them would be chosen as king of Israel, Samuel immediately though Eliab was chosen by the Lord to serve as king. It is actually unmistakable as to why Samuel would think that Eliab was the next king of Israel, for Eliab appeared to be of a similar nature and stature as Saul who was already serving the Lord as king of Israel. When Samuel thought within himself that Eliab was surely the Lord’s anointed, he did so based on his outward appearance, for undoubtedly he was one who was great in stature, and one who would seem like the natural and logical choice for the next king of Israel. The Lord, however, would not choose the next king of israel based on outward appearance, and in fact, there would be nothing prominent about that one who would be chosen as the next king of Israel. What I so love about the Lord’s choosing and the Lord’s anointing of David as the next king of Israel, is that not only was David the youngest of Jesse’s sons, but David also seemed to be the most insignificant of Jesse’s sons. In fact, Scripture almost seems to provide every indication that Jesse had forgotten about David when considering which among his sons would be anointed as the next king of Israel. I absolutely love that the Lord chose the youngest of Jesse’s sons to be anointed as the. Next king of israel, the Lord chose the second youngest of Jacob’s children to not only preserve the Lord’s people in the earth, but to also rule as the second highest in command within the land of Egypt.
DON’T L OOK IN THE PALACE! DON’T LOOK IN THE KING’S HOUSE! DON’T LOOK IN THE HOUSE OF THE NOBLES! DON’T LOOK IN THE PROMINENT PLACES WITHIN THE EARTH! DON’T LOOK IN THE OBVIOUS PLACES! The more I read and consider the Lord’s choosing of David, the more I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by the Lord’s choosing of David, for from and according to man’s standards, David did not and would not seem like the logical choice to rule and reign over God’s people as the king of Israel. The truth of the matter, however, is that when it came to looking for the next king of Israel, the Lord didn’t look in the capital city, but looked in the small town of Bethlehem. The Lord didn’t look for one who had a silver spoon in their mouth to anoint as the next king of israel, but he looked for one who was out tending and watching over the sheep of his father. THE LORD SEES WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FIELD! THE LORD TAKES NOTICE OF WHAT IS DONE IN THE FIELD! In the seventeenth chapter of the book of First Samuel we notice some incredibly powerful truths concerning David king of Israel. Beginning with the twelfth verse of this chapter we read these words—“Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Beth-lehem-Judah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Beth-lehem” (1 Samuel 17:12-15). The first thing we learn about David is that even after he had been anointed as king of Israel, he continued to watch over his father’s sheep out in the fields. ANOINTED, YET STILL SERVING! What I love about this passage of Scripture is that even though David was anointed as the king of Israel, he continued to serve in the same role and capacity he did prior to the anointing. This is absolutely astounding because there are those who think that because they have been anointed they no longer have to serve or remain faithful in that which they were originally doing. There are men and women among us who believe that even though they may have been anointed by the Lord, they somehow don’t have to continue being faithful in what they were doing before the anointing! WHEN LIFE AFTER THE ANOINTING REMAINS THE SAME AS LIFE BEFORE THE ANOINTING! This passage of Scripture reveals that David’s life seemed to remain the same—even after he had been anointed as the next king of Israel. Even though David was anointed as the next king of Israel, he didn’t immediately rise up to attempt to lay hold of the throne. What did David do after he had been anointed as king over Israel? David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Beth-lehem.
As you continue reading this passage of Scripture, you will notice something else remarkable about David concerning his watching over his father’s sheep in the field. When standing before Saul at the battle between the Philistines, David declared that he would go and fight the Philistine giant from Gath. At first Saul seemed to balk at the idea, and even reject David’s desire to go out and fight the Philistine giant in the valley of Elah. What is so incredibly powerful about this passage of Scripture, however, is David’s response to Saul when he was originally scoffed at for thinking he could fight and engage the Philistine giant. Pay attention to the words which David spoke unto Saul when Saul originally scoffed at the idea of sending this young boy out into the midst of battle to face a Philistine giant: “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” (1 Samuel 17:34-37). The words which David spoke unto Saul in this passage are quite remarkable and astounding, for David not only spoke of how he had watched over the sheep of his father in the field, but David also spoke of how we faced and engaged threats against the sheep of his father. David believed with all his heart, and was incredibly confident that he could not only engage, but actually defeat the Philistine giant because of his experience in the field with the sheep. This is absolutely astounding when you consider it, for it reveals one of the reasons the Lord chose David. I wrote how the Lord pays close attention to what is being done in the field, and the Lord was watching as David not only faced, but also engaged the conflicts and struggles he faced while watching over the sheep. If there is one thing these words of David reveal, it’s that responsibility is not without conflict, struggle and even battles. These words spoken by David reveal the tremendous reality of how the Lord pays close attention to how we handle conflict in the midst of that which we have been appointed to do, for not everyone immediately begins with the anointing of the Lord upon their lives. The Lord watches you as you handle conflict, and struggle, and strife and battles in that which you have been called and appointed to do. You might not be standing and serving the Lord in the capacity you feel within your heart you have been chosen to do, but know that the Lord is carefully watching what you do and how you act in the field. The Lord watches what you do and you respond when the lion and the bear come against you, and come against that which has been entrusted in your hands and into your care. The Lord is not unaware of how you handle conflicts, and struggles, and dilemmas, and crises, and problems, and the Lord knows exactly how you respond to such events within your life.
How do you handle the unexpected? How do you handle conflict? How do you handle struggle? I am convinced that one of the main reasons the Lord chose David to serve Him as king over the nation of Israel is not merely because of his faithfulness in watching over the sheep, but also how he handled and engaged conflict and struggle while doing it. It wasn’t merely that David remained faithful watching over the sheep of his father in the field, but it was also how David handled those threats which emerged and rose up against that which had been entrusted into his care. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE STRUGGLES YOU FACE! DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE PROBLEMS YOU ENCOUNTER! There is an incredible tendency to balk at those struggles, those problems, those conflicts, those dilemmas we face within our lives, and yet the through the life of David we discover that the Lord pays attention to such realities within our lives. We might think and even consider that the Lord isn’t aware of the conflicts and struggles we face within our lives—even if those conflicts are small in stature—and yet the life of David reveals that such struggles and conflicts are actually carefully considered by the Lord of hosts. In all reality, it was the conflict and struggle of the bear, as well as the conflict and struggle of the lion that helped prepare David to face an even greater struggle and conflict in the Philistine giant Gath. What’s more, is that it was David’s response to those conflicts that actually caused him to be looked upon by the Lord. I can’t help but think that while the Lord might not have sent the lion and the bear, He did deliberately and intentionally allow both to come against and threaten his father’s sheep, in order that he might see how he handled such conflicts. The Lord watched over David’s encounters in the field with his father’s sheep, for it would be that which would strategically position David as king over the nation of Israel. What’s more, is that I believe with everything inside of me that it was David’s personal relationship with the Lord that enabled him to engage and overcome both the lion and the bear in the field, and both would eventually position him to be able to engage and overcome Goliath in the valley of Elah. OH that we would pay close attention to what we read and find in this passage, for what we read here reveals the tremendous reality of how the Lord chooses those who will stand before Him and serve His purposes within their generation. The Lord watched over David as David watched over the sheep—a reality we must clearly pay attention to and recognize. In fact, the entire twenty-third chapter of the book of Psalms reveals how the Lord watched over David while David watched over the sheep of his father in the fields of Bethlehem. It is absolutely imperative that we not only remain faithful in that which the Lord has called us to do in our generation, but it also incredibly important that we learn how to handle every conflict, every struggle, every dilemma, every crisis, every problem that comes our way, for the Lord watches and considers it all.
As you continue reading and studying Scripture, you will notice how the Lord chose another individual from watching over and looking after sheep—this time, however, it was not one who watched over the sheep in the fields, but in the desert. When you begin reading the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will discover absolutely incredible words regarding Moses who was born among the Hebrews, raised among the Egyptians, and eventually would live among the Midianites. Beginning with the first verse of the third chapter we discover where Moses was, and what Moses was doing when the Lord revealed Himself unto him in the desert. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:1-2). We have already seen how the Lord chose and took David from among his father’s sheep in the fields, and now we are witnessing as the Lord chose and took Moses from watching over his father-in-law’s sheep in the middle of the desert. I can’t help but consider the reality that the Lord seems to absolutely love, and perhaps even favor those are able to remain faithful and responsible in that which seems mundane and insignificant. The Lord would not only take and choose Moses from among the sheep, but the Lord would take and choose David from among the sheep as well. The Lord would take and choose Moses from the sheep in the desert to eventually lead His people out of the land of Egypt, and through the wilderness unto the Promised Land. The Lord chose David from among the sheep to shepherd His people within and in the midst of their inheritance within the earth. There is absolutely something incredible in this, for the Lord chose one from among the sheep to led His people out of slavery and bondage, while the Lord chose the other to lead men and women within their inheritance. The Lord chose one from among the sheep to lead his people through the wilderness, and the Lord chose another from among the sheep to lead his people in battle against their enemies round about. What an absolutely incredible thought it is to consider how the Lord chose two distinct men from among the sheep and raised them up within the earth to serve two distinct purposes within the earth. RAISED UP FROM AMONG THE SHEEP TO LEAD OTHERS OUT OF BONDAGE! RAISED UP FROM AMONG THE SHEEP TO LEAD OTHERS THROUGH THE DESERT! RAISED UP FROM AMONG THE SHEEP TO SHEPHERD PEOPLE WITHIN THEIR INHERITANCE! RAISED UP FROM AMONG THE SHEEP TO LEAD OTHERS IN BATTLE AGAINST THEIR ENEMIES AND ADVERSARIES!
When you read the prophetic book of Amos, you will find that when Amos called and chosen by the Lord to serve Him as prophet, Amos wasn’t taken from among the prominent in the land, but was taken from among the sheep. Amose was taken from seemingly obscure locations within the earth and raised up to stand before the Lord as prophet among His people. Even Amos himself would acknowledge how he wasn’t even pursuing being a prophet of the Lord when the Lord called and chose him to do so. This reality was manifested in both the lives of Moses and David, as neither one was expecting, or even anticipating being taken from among the sheep to serve the Lord’s purpose. I love how the Lord took one from among the sheep to serve as prophets another from among the sheep to serve as prophet and deliverer, and another from among the sheep to serve as king over the nation of Israel. Three different men—each with three distinct purposes within the earth—and yet the Lord chose and took them all from the same place within the earth. THE LORD PAYS ATTENTION TO FAITHFULNESS! THE LORD PAYS ATTENTION TO RESPONSIBILITY! THE LORD PAYS ATTENTION TO WHAT IS DONE IN PRIVATE! The Lord chose these three men to stand before Him in their generation, and He anointed them each in a different way and for different purposes. I absolutely love the first chapter of the prophetic book of Amos, for it reveals how the Lord took one from among the herdsmen of Tekoa and raised him up within that generation as a prophetic voice to the inhabitants of the land. When we are reading and seeking to understand this prophetic book, it’s imperative that we understand how the Lord chooses His servants, and how the Lord is acutely and keenly aware of where we find ourselves. The Lord pays close attention to our faithfulness in that which might very well seem mundane and ordinary, and the Lord pays attention to how we handle that which we encounter and experience in the midst of such places. The Lord chose Amos from the among the herdsmen of Tekoa and set him among nobles, princes, and even the king of Israel to proclaim the word of the Lord. What’s more, is that when you journey to the New Testament book of Luke, you will find that the Lord even appeared unto shepherds in the field by night while they watched over the sheep, and proclaimed unto them the birth of Jesus. I absolutely love how the Lord raised up a single shepherd as a prophetic voice within his generation, and the Lord appeared to a group of shepherds while they themselves were in the field in order that they might proclaim the good news of the birth of Jesus.