“One of the servants answered, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him'”. 1Samuel 16:18
King Saul is looking for a person to come and help him with his depression issues. A servant recommends a young man who plays the harp…who just happens to be the future king, David. And the writer of 1Samuel gives us this amazing description of the future king.
David is from the tribe of Judah. It was expected that Judah would raise up leaders and kings. He was musical and artistic. He was brave, strong, and an incredible warrior. He actually proves himself to be an outstanding military leader. David is also articulate and well-educated. And he is apparently eye candy for the local ladies. David is a prodigy.
A prodigy is a person who has extraordinary talent or ability. Often, we apply this term to children or young adults who show abilities years beyond their normative developmental age. In other words, their skills are equivalent to people 2-3x their age. People who have been studying and practicing much longer than them. Malcolm Gladwell identifies these individuals as “outliers” in his book of the same title. An outlier is a person who, under normal pretenses, should not have succeeded at the level they did. They are an anomaly.
We all know people like King David. They may not all be prodigies in the true sense of the word. But the stars all seem to be in alignment for them. And when we read about King David, we wonder how this could possibly apply to us. If David is a prodigy (and we are not), then how can we be expected to apply any of the principles of this story to our own lives? How can we duplicate David?
Well, it is not about us, directly anyway. We have to get over this idea that scripture is exclusively about us. Scripture is about God. God revealing Himself to us. Any parts that benefit us is a bonus. The archaic word “prodigy” refers to something regarded as prophetic significance. The story of David is ultimately the story of Jesus which is the story of God revealing Himself to the world and redeeming our souls.
However, even though David is a prodigy, he is not sinless. He is human. And we can learn from this king. We can learn how to be a “man after God’s own heart” in spite of our humanity.