When I traveled to Inner Mongolia, I went to see the vast grasslands. I saw a large flock of sheep being watched over by a man and his dog. The sheep dog was very busy, running to and fro to keep the sheep where the man wanted them. Gradually, as the sheep finished eating the grass in one area, the man moved them on to a new pasture. Most of the time, however, the shepherd simply sat and watched the sheep.
David developed in this way. His training was hands on, not theoretical. He developed the ability to patiently watch over the flock and the surrounding environment. He composed Psalm 8 based on his long nights watching the sheep, considering the heavens, and wondering about God. Night and day, he had to be on guard against any beasts that might try to steal one of the sheep. This would explain why he was such an expert with his sling when he faced Goliath (1 Sam. 17:36). Since he was responsible for the flock, he did not run from the bear or the lion. He faced them, and as he triumphed over them he discovered how faithful God was to watch over him and his sheep (v. 37). This training qualified him to rule over Israel as God’s flock.
In Psalm 23, he records the lessons he learned while shepherding. Whatever challenged his flock, whether beast, Philistine, or strong nation, he stood firm. The Lord was the real Shepherd over both him and the nation of Israel.
Adapted from David: After God’s Heart, pages 45-46.
Tomorrow: “Are We Willing to be Trained? (1)”