THE HEART OF A KING (Part 2)

David was up far before the first rays of the sun began to crack the thick crust of the night sky, slicing through with shards of orange and pink light. He had spent the night outside, as he did on occasion; preferring the clean and pure air of the outdoors to the stuffy atmosphere of the inner chambers. It was as though the air inside was contaminated less with the elements than with the disdain of his brothers. He lay back on his hastily made pallet, his eyes turned towards the as-yet dark sky, thinking and communing with his Maker. That was one of the things, the ‘rituals’ David looked forward to. He passed time speaking with God, overcoming his loneliness in the hills by singing psalms of praise. And he could sing and play the harp, something that brought him no end of harassment from Raddai and Abinadab.

“Other young men are busy working on their sword-wielding skills and you are busy playing on the harp like a woman!” Raddai would scoff.

His relationship with Yahweh had been fostered by his great grandmother Ruth who had diligently taught him the ways of the Lord. He remembered her wizened face, every wrinkle and crevice dear to him and her opaque eyes long robbed of sight, her soft hands as she held him and caressed his face as a child. Her hair, though mostly white, still held evidence of the fiery red of her youth in a few strands adorning her temples, the shade much like David’s. She would sing songs to him as she held him close, ruffling his hair lightly, the smell of olives and spices from her skin and clothing permeating the air.

“My dear boy,” she would say, in that deep clear voice that, after all those years in Israel, still held a trace of her native Moabite accent. “I know what it is like to be a stranger among your people…what it is to prove yourself worthy. But mark my words, David. You are destined for greatness.”

Much of what he learned about Yahweh, he learned at her lap as a little child, and later on his feet when he grew too big for her to carry and she in turn grew too old and weak to hold him. She taught him how to pray and listen for the sound of God’s voice. She gave him a small brass harp as a gift when she learned he loved to sing, the harp he still treasured till date.

“Sing with joy unto the Lord, David. Sing when you laugh and when you cry. Sing in the sunshine and in the rain. It matters not in the tone or note of the song, but from the heart whence the song springs forth.”

She died as he turned eleven and his heart broke. He had spent days in solitude in the hills with the sheep, weeping. He had lost not only a great grandmother but a true friend, and for the first time he really felt alone. That was when he began to talk to Yahweh and sing to him. It was then that Yahweh began to talk back to him, in that still Voice. Some questioned his sanity, especially his brothers, but he paid them no mind, growing in stature and character and doing all he could to please the Lord. He felt a deep connection with the Almighty, almost a palpable presence in the wind. It was not by chance that he had been able to overcome a lion and bear on his own with little more than a sling, a staff and a prayer as his only means of defense.

As David got up and rolled up his pallet he wondered what the day would hold for him, what Yahweh had in store.

* * *

Samuel squinted against the glare of the sun reflecting off the white rock outcroppings on the arduous road to Bethlehem, breathing evenly, his white beard collecting dust. He trudged along in slow steps, his body old but fit, accustomed to long treks across Israel. He was old, too old, he thought, for such a grueling task.

Anoint a new King over Israel? With Saul already at the helm of affairs, no less? And everyone knew that despite Saul’s being head and shoulders taller than most men in Israel, he was short in one thing: his temper. And that temper had gotten worse over the years and his character more flawed. True, Samuel had known that it was only a matter of time before Saul would be replaced, but in his mind’s eye he had seen his replacement being the more even-tempered Jonathan, Saul’s son.

And now this? A man from Bethlehem as the new king? What good could possibly come out of Bethlehem? And who was this Jesse of whom Yahweh spoke? He had been instructed to go and anoint one of Jesse’s sons and his response had been swift. “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!”

Yahweh had instructed him on how to go about it in a discreet manner and soon enough he found himself on the way to Bethlehem, with his horn of oil tucked away in the folds of his travelling tunic. Upon reaching Bethlehem he was met by the elders of the small town, most of them wary of him as his reputation as a Prophet of Yahweh had spread far and wide. Once he assured them of his intentions to sacrifice to Yahweh, they were satisfied of his coming in peace.

“I hear there is a man among you, Jesse, with sons? Do you know him?” He asked the elders and Jesse was quickly summoned. Samuel thought Jesse to be a rather nondescript man, able to blend into a crowd of Hebrew men his age. He asked of his sons and they too were called, and lined up in order, each knowing his place. Samuel thought them to be fine-looking young men, especially the eldest, Eliab. He spoke words of consecration them and invited them to come along with him to perform the sacrifice.

Upon reaching a suitable area away from the prying eyes of the townspeople, Samuel took to looking at each of the sons with a critical eye. He awaited instructions from Yahweh and the young men began to shift around uneasily, likely wondering why the sacrifice was not being performed. Samuel listened keenly and went to stand before Eliab.

“Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord…” he thought as he gazed at the tall, handsome young man with hair as black as coal and eyes as green as the olives ripening in the Judean sun. He had the proud bearing of a king with his shoulders thrown back and his mouth carrying a hint of haughtiness.

The answer came swiftly, a soft whispering in the wind audible only to the spiritually seasoned ear of Samuel.

Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart…

Samuel sighed and walked over to the next young man, leaving Eliab looking puzzled and slightly irked at being passed over, though for what exactly he did not know. Next Samuel stood before Abinadab. This one was not as striking as the first but handsome nonetheless.

Jesse looked at Samuel, his expression questioning but saying nothing. The rest of the brothers, sensing that they were somehow being inspected for something of great import stood a little taller and straighter.

Samuel gazed at Abinadab. This one perhaps? The Answer came yet again.

“The Lord has not chosen this one either…” Samuel said, more to himself than anybody else. Eliab and Abinadab exchanged looks of mutual curiosity. Next Jesse ushered a rather reluctant looking Shimea before Samuel. Samuel smiled inwardly at the young man’s squirming, as though he did not like the perusal he was getting. Yet again the same answer.

“Nor has the Lord chosen this one…” he said resolutely.

The next three came forward and with each the answer was the same: No, not this one.

“The Lord has not chosen these,” Samuel said to Jesse.

Finally Samuel stood before a distraught-looking Jesse. Neither of them had any answers. So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Jesse hesitated before answering. “There is still the youngest but he is tending the sheep.”

Samuel noticed some of the young men stiffening and exchanging angry glances with each other. Eliab murmured something under his breath. The prophet chose to ignore it. He said, “Send for him. We will not sit down until he arrives.”

Jesse turned and gave the order to Ozem to go out into the hills and fetch David. Ozem did so without hesitation. And they waited.

* * *

David heard Ozem’s rushed steps before he rounded the side of the hill toward him. The hairs on his neck stood and he felt a chill run up his spine. Had something happened? Was it his father or one of his siblings? Never had Ozem been sent to summon him before. He stood up quickly, walking swiftly as Ozem ran up to him and had to pause to catch his breath, bending over and placing his hands on his knees, breathing loudly.

David spoke with urgency. “Brother, what is it? Is it father? One of our brothers or sisters? Is something wrong?”

Ozem shook his head and answered in short bursts. “No…father sent me…he wants you to come immediately…the great Prophet Samuel wants to see you…”

David’s brow creased, his face perplexed. “Prophet Samuel? What could he possibly want with –”

Ozem’s head shot up, his eyes narrowed in frustration. “Look you foolish boy…I just ran half the breadth of Israel to summon you and all you think to do is ask questions? How should I know what he wants? Just come as father says!”

“But the sheep –”

“A plague upon the sheep!” Ozem hissed. “I think they can survive your absence for a moment or two, don’t you think?”

David sighed, shrugged and together he and Ozem made their way back to Samuel, Jesse and the brothers.

* * *

Samuel saw them coming from a distance – one of the brothers he had earlier rejected and the shepherd. The shepherd was slight of build, lithe in a way that reminded Samuel of a desert fox and walked with an easy grace and calm, as though he knew every stone and path in the area. He felt as though the young man was at one with all around him, at harmony with is surroundings.

As they got closer and Samuel could pick up his features; he could see that the shepherd was by far the most striking among the brothers, with his wavy auburn hair glinting where his head covering had no doubt come off in the rush, the top of his head bleached gold from exposure to the sun, his face proportionate and well featured, his jaw firm and his build strong, with arms twined with defined muscle. As he came toward Samuel, he greeted him with a bow and did the same to his father. Then he stood silently before Samuel, his eyes curious but otherwise betraying nothing.

Samuel stood and looked directly into eyes as grey as the sea on a stormy night. There was no hint of haughtiness; indeed what Samuel saw in the youngster was humility and strength, not just in character but in spirit. This was a young man who had faced hardship and had come through seasoned and sound, that much he could tell just by looking at him.

“What is your name, young man?”

“My name is David, my lord.”

He waited for the Answer and it came.

Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

He smiled at David and bade him kneel.  David hesitated, casting a glance at his father who responded with a slight nod. He then knelt in front of Samuel. Jesse looked on in trepidation and the most of the brothers in something akin to horror. Samuel looked up to Heaven, prayed and brought out his horn of oil, pouring it over David’s head. David looked up after the oil had been exhausted, his eyes shining and the oil running down his face. Samuel recognized the look; the Lord had come down upon David in power and that power had infused his being. Never again would he be the same man.

Jesse requested the honour of Samuel’s presence for meal before he went up to Ramah and Samuel accepted. Soon enough the older men were on their way to Jesse’s house, deep in conversation, leaving the brothers standing around and staring after them. David stood still as his brothers turned to look at him, some with suspicion and others with frank curiosity.

After a moment he spoke with an awkward laugh. “I think I shall return to my sheep. I will see you later in the evening. I bid you all well.”

And with that he turned and walked toward the hill. There was silence as they watched him recede into the horizon until he finally disappeared.

Raddai spoke first. “What do you suppose just happened?”

“The old man poured oil on his head and blessed him, that’s all,” Eliab said, his grudging tone betraying bitterness. “I don’t understand why he, as the youngest, should have been given the blessing though.”

“Our history, the history of Israel, is rife with instances where the older is usurped by the younger, Eliab,” Nethanel said, cocking his eyebrow, his tone as languid as his pose.

Shimea, however, looked pensive, his brow creased in deep thought.

“Usurped? In what way could he possibly…” Eliab continued before being interrupted by Shimea.

“When was the last time Samuel anointed anyone?” Shimea asked, the pensive look still on his face.

“Why…when he anointed Saul as king, was it not?” Ozem said.

“And why would the great Prophet come all the way to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse and look all his sons over, finally anointing the youngest? Would he have done so without a purpose, without direct orders from Yahweh Himself?”

There was silence all around as understanding dawned on their faces.

“That means that Samuel came to anoint a new king over Israel and that means…” Nethanel said in measured tones.

“That, my dear brothers, means that we have royalty among us now. If I am not mistaken we have just looked into the eyes of the new king of Israel, one of lowly birth, a shepherd…but one chosen by Yahweh nonetheless…King David.”

Written by Sifa Asani GowonDavid_anointed

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18 Comments

  1. anyibaba

     /  October 27, 2013

    Ahhh, my book of Bible stories

    Reply
  2. Newton

     /  October 27, 2013

    It’s a beauty! I love it!

    Reply
  3. Excellency

     /  October 27, 2013

    Ah, my God, I’m just loving this! It’s coming alive… A very welldone Sifa!

    Reply
  4. abikoye

     /  October 27, 2013

    Please just finish this up. I will pricelessly cherish the story of Esther, if you would so write. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Back of the Bible, who be Ozem? Walter!

    Reply
  6. doris

     /  October 27, 2013

    much better than my book of bible stories.pretty awesome.

    Reply
  7. consyspark

     /  October 28, 2013

    at first i dint want to read this seeming it was a story i already knew but i Thank Yaweh i later did. you just brought all those paper characters into 3D mode, soo alive. nice one, hope we would see one of Esther..

    Reply
  8. MztaPaul

     /  October 28, 2013

    nice…

    Reply
  9. okechukwu elosiuba

     /  October 29, 2013

    Dear writer ur descriptive prowess and devotion to detail is awe-inducing thanks for the write.

    Reply
  10. kachi

     /  October 29, 2013

    Getting more interesting by the day… Sifa, are you sure you didnt exist in the time of David bcos u seem to pieces the story so well lyk kpo kpo garri.. Nice

    Reply
  11. Adeline Kasper

     /  October 29, 2013

    Hmm.. M soo lovin dis!
    Nexxtt.. Part 3 pleasee.. Cnt wait!

    Reply
  12. Fluid writing….beautiful execution

    Reply
  13. ebony87

     /  January 13, 2014

    Bravo! Bravo!! Bravo!!! Thank you for making us understand that the characters in the Bible are not a work of Fiction but were actually real and faced the trials and triumphs of this world.

    Reply
  14. Amina williams

     /  March 19, 2014

    Dat was awesome!!!!!!! King David is indeed anointed as king of Israel!!!!!!! Tearssss!!!!!!!

    Reply

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