The stories related to “God’s Favorite” (Hebrew name דָּוִד Dawid meaning “beloved”) spoke about a capable shepherd trusted with the care of hundreds of sheep; a valiant sentinel, who would have killed bears and lions to protect the assets of his father. Saul, the not-so-favorite king of Israel, knew David for his skills as a songwriter and artisan of musical instruments. The Bible says he could produce sounds with his harp that forced evil spirits to depart from Saul yet his family used to call him “the little one” and as such, they would treat him. In spite of this, history will always remember him as the boy who killed the giant.
When Israel was at war with the Philistines, King Saul was faced with one of the hardest decision of his rule. He had to choose a warrior who would fight the uncircumcised giant Goliath, and let that sole man bear the burden of bringing victory to Israel. One would assume that out of a nation of millions, a tall buff guy with battle skills (and unparalleled faith on God’s assistance) would arise. Why not? That was the history of Israel: The nation goes to battle, Yahweh wins the war.
However, for forty days they waited and no one step up to face the huge Philistine challenge. Not even the King himself stepped forward. And he was actually the tallest and strongest of all the men in the land. He was the man with the prophetic word. He was the one with the supreme title. He had the supernatural backing of Heaven; the one chosen by God, anointed by Samuel and crowned as the first monarch of Israel.
But the coward King missed the opportunity to lead by example (which is the only legitimate way to be a leader, besides dictatorship). Instead, he made a bad military decision and selected a young shepherd who was untrained in the art of war and disregarded by his own family. Saul sent the boy he knew as a musician to face the giant warrior he was meant to fight himself.
The brave David went ahead, charging into combat without Saul’s armor. He ran with a battle cry that was louder than all the voices of fear and mistrust in the frontline. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
But then, the Bible recollects a most interesting and overlooked part of this famous story:
“As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is this youth?’ And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” 1 Samuel 17
Saul sat on his throne under a special tent designed for royalty. He was served wine by peasants and counseled by the wisest minds. From there he watches the combat, as David slings the rock, swings the sword, and the tide of fear turns from the camp of Israel to the camp of the Philistines. The little one caused a shift in the atmosphere; a transfer of courage. Fear was no longer being breathed in by the Israelites but the boldness of the young, good-looking shepherd became the faith of a whole army.
Within the madness of victory, King Saul needed to know just one thing. There was one piece of information that would explain this series of events. The King does not want to know how much David prayed or which songs he wrote; he’s not worried about the boy’s calling or his prophetic words. There were no congratulations or protocol of gratitude. As the boy returned to the tent dragging the head of Goliath in his hand, Saul, like a desperate man, is searching for the most important answer. He asks David, “Whose son are you, young man?”
The king needed to know who was the father of the boy acting in the way he himself should have acted all along. The only thing that could explain why this boy was so brave, believed the way he did, and fought when no one else would, had to be related to the father. It had to be! Weak men cannot reproduce giant slayer; cowards could never raise a valiant warrior. This son who is carrying the nation on his shoulders was the evidence of a courageous father.
Then, as the ground still rumbles and Israel’s army plunder the Philistines, David shakes with adrenaline, smiles with hope, and gives a simple answer to the king: “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
King Saul’s inquiry about David’s biological father is one of the most revealing questions in the Bible. If I want to know your faith, your courage and your hope, I need to meet you father.
Identity is deposited, authority is delegated, and courage is learned. The good news is that your true Father is in fact the commander of the angel armies and in consequence you were destined for success, glory and victory. If you truly are a child of God, then your victories are not a by-product of your efforts but a direct link to your sonship.
The boldness that David displayed in the battlefield was the fruit of faith, nurtured through the root of worship. He knew what God was capable of, not just because he had killed lions and bears in the past, but because he had looked into the heart of God in adoration and found favor in the Father’s delight.
In David’s life the fruit of walking in sonship to God as father, was this: He became the second King of the United Kingdom of Israel. He became a ruler and strategist who brought fame, power and provision to his people. For multiple years he was able to achieve peace, and increase the wealth in the land. He brought back God’s manifest presence in the ark, and made a way for the greatest house of worship this broken earth has ever seen built.
David failed morally, abused his powers and broke covenant with God. But for some reason, even when his sins look worse than many others in scripture, God kept a special place for him. Yes, he paid a heavy price for those iniquities, but they did not disqualify his sonship. That was who he was, not what he was trying to be. “Son” is what he understood of himself.
And this Beloved knew the answer to the King’s question. He was a son of the God of compassion. He was the son of Jesse from Bethlehem who trained him as a shepherd. And he was the son of Saul, the crazy-king/father-in-law who hated him but also blessed him to rule. (Best book for leaders. Ever! – A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards)
Our desire as children of God should be to seek a history that has been healed, an identity that has been sealed, and a destiny that has been revealed. In knowing our fathers we truly know our sonship, and in knowing our sonship we can truly reign as his kings and queens.
Take 1 minute and think of your fathers. How are you approaching them? What’s the honor level in your heart towards them? Start with God, then your earthly dad, then your spiritual parents. No matter where you are right now with them, ask Jesus to teach you sonship, and learn to walk in the ways of David.
Be the son/daughter who has nothing better to give, than a reply to this question: “Whose Son Are You?”
Your greatness is hidden in the answer.