It was a calm, peaceful evening, and young David was sitting on a hill watching over the flock of sheep. He watched diligently, making sure no predators crept in to steal a sheep from him. The sun was sinking into the horizon, and as it got darker, the moon and stars came out to shine. As David sat and guarded his flock, he meditated on God’s creation. Looking at the stars, he mused, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?”
Suddenly, something caught his attention—a rough rustling in the grass, the sound of something big approaching the flock. In the next instant, a lion pounced on one of his lambs. Without hesitating, David ran straight at the lion and grabbed it by its mane. Minutes later, the lion lay dead on the ground, and David successfully delivered the lamb out of its mouth.
As soon as the exhilaration of the moment was over, David dropped to his knees and thanked God for delivering him from the lion. He knew that he couldn’t have done this by himself. If he had been fighting with his strength only, that beast could have easily killed him. Instead, God fought with him and delivered the lion into his hands.
This was not the last time David had to protect his flock, however. Another time, a bear approached the flock. David slew it as well. And even when the days weren’t so eventful, David, full of positive energy and faith in God, kept on herding his sheep, diligently looking after them with his might.
One day, however, David heard the news of a battle: The Philistines and Israelites were facing off against each other. His three older brothers had gone to fight, so his father sent him after them with some food. David left his sheep with another shepherd and rushed to the battlefield, eager to help where he could.
Once David arrived at the scene of the battle, he heard about Goliath the giant. Goliath called out to the Israelites daily, mocking them and telling them to send a man out to fight him. When he saw what was happening, David asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). But all of the Israelite soldiers were frightened. No one dared to confront Goliath.
So David went to Saul and recounted the story of how he killed the lion and the bear.
“David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.”
With the king’s permission and God helping him, David went out and slew Goliath—the Philistine’s biggest, strongest warrior. But David didn’t just go out and kill Goliath without having been trained. He didn’t just fall out of bed that morning and decide that he would kill Goliath. No—David was confident that he could kill Goliath because God had prepared him for that moment. God allowed the lion and the bear to approach the flock before to teach David that He would always help him protect the flock. No beast would be able to harm them because God would deliver the lambs for David when he did his part. Through this training and preparation in the fields as a shepherd, God prepared David to accomplish His will in the nation of Israel.
What about in our personal lives? If we reflect on our past experiences, there undoubtedly have been circumstances that we might not have perceived as valuable—until they turned out to be the exact training we needed for another situation in our lives!
For example, before I came to Herbert W. Armstrong College, my family had a relative who lived close to our home. She was elderly and needed help doing her yard work. She had many exotic plants and elegantly shaped bushes and shrubs—landscaping you would normally only find in royal gardens. Gardening was her favorite thing to do, but she needed help with maintaining all of her beautiful plants. Considering the value she placed on them, she would expect nothing but perfection in the manicuring of the shrubs. She put me to the task of trimming, pruning and clipping her plants—and she stood next to me and watched every move I made. She was easily dissatisfied and slapped my fingers if I did not trim the bushes exactly the way she intended them to be trimmed. At the time, I simply could not understand why it was such a big deal to have the bushes trimmed so perfectly.
After helping her many times over a couple of years, my brothers and I went to college. During my freshman year, I was placed in the Landscaping Department. One day, my supervisor asked me to do some hedging. I had come to love trimming bushes and making them beautiful, and my supervisor liked my work. From then, I did the hedging around campus.
With the very particular training I received from my relative who loved gardening, I was prepared to serve in that capacity at headquarters. The training I received at home was exactly what I needed!
God truly gives us the education we need. He knows the needs in the Work, and He prepares each one of us for jobs in the future—whether they be big tasks, like killing Goliath, or little ones, like diligently tending a flock of sheep. God prepares and teaches each of us for the opportunities and needs ahead.
So if you find yourself doing a task you might not particularly enjoy or do not understand, stop and think for a moment. Maybe God is preparing you for something you are not aware of just yet. Let that motivate you to do the task with all your might. Then, when you find yourself having to use your acquired skill, you will know that God prepared you for it in advance—just like God prepared David to face Goliath through the lion and the bear.