The Power of Insignificance

Little David had some impressive big brothers. So impressive, in fact, that the prophet Samuel thought for sure his brother Eliab had to be God’s choice for King Saul’s successor. Three of those brothers had followed Saul into battle. Considering that they’d come back home alive, they were no doubt rather intimidating specimens of physical might. Their father Jesse, when asked to present his sons, brought the biggest, strongest, and surely the ones he thought were fit for the job. And he left little David out in the fields with the sheep. Seven big brothers, and God didn’t approve of any of them. He wanted the one that everyone else had overlooked, because God saw David’s heart.

We get a clear picture in 1 Samuel 16 that Jesse preferred his older sons over the youngest. David was obviously not the prize bull of the family; he wasn’t even important enough for Jesse to present to Samuel alongside his brothers! I’m sure David probably preferred to be with the sheep and his harp. Can you imagine how awkward it was for Jesse and the older brothers as they waited for David after hearing that the Lord had rejected all seven of them?

Many of us grew up in families with either a “golden child” whose presence dwarfed the other siblings or a “black sheep” who didn’t fit in anywhere. Maybe it was physical stature or good looks that set our sibling apart, or maybe our parents just played favorites. Hey, it happened in the Bible; it’s nothing new. Look at how badly favoritism tore the family of Jacob apart! A favorite wife, preferential treatment for her sons … it was a recipe for disaster. That kind of inequity still happens today, and it leaves many of us identifying with that little shepherd boy whose father didn’t even think he was worthy to be considered for service to the Lord.

I wonder how many of us are crippled to some extent by that feeling of inadequacy when it comes to our own talents? I suspect it’s a staggering number, actually. We’ve all heard of the “giants of the faith;” do we dismiss our own abilities as unimportant or useless in comparison? Do we excuse ourselves from serving in ways that God has gifted us simply because we may not be as good as someone else?

Feelings of inadequacy are difficult to overcome. It’s hard to step out of the shadow and put yourself out there because yes, people do judge harshly and sometimes will unfairly compare us to those who might be more gifted.

But maybe … just maybe …

Maybe we’ve been spending too much time in the peaceful fields when God expects us to stand up and rise to a challenge that He has chosen for us alone?

When Samuel set out to find the one that God had chosen to replace the mighty King Saul, he had preconceived ideas of what the king should look like. Saul was a BIG man. He was respected among his people and his peers. But God wanted something else. Someone different. Someone who wasn’t a self-made man, but who God could use for His glory.

Do you have a story that needs telling? Do you have a talent or a gift or a passion that God can use for His purposes? Are you holding back because you just don’t feel “good enough”? My friend, it’s those “insignificant” people that God does His best and most powerful work with. You’ve just got to step out of the shadows.

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