Before David was a king, he was a shepherd. He was a warrior. He was a musician. At a young age, he was known as skillful instrumentalist upon the lyre (1 Sam. 16:18).
That doesn’t happen over night. At some point, he was some kid plucking away at the lyre. Before he could ever shred the strings on this tiny guitar-like instrument, he was probably annoying his brothers with the awful, shrieking sounds of rehearsal. But through practice and time, he became so proficient that his reputation preceded him.
In the timeline of the narrative, the priest Samuel anointed David as the coming king without the incumbent king’s knowledge. It “just so happened” that the current king, Saul, was being overwhelmed emotionally and sought a skillful musician to be his personal background music instrumentalist. And guess who was brought in just a few mere steps away from the throne? David.
Now, if you were hoping to be king, I doubt that you would ever consider that lyre lessons would be the optimal path of exaltation. You would have never even considered it.
David never knew that his activity in the past was setting him up for an opportunity in the future.
But God did.
Charles Swindoll wrote, “God can draw what may seem to be a most insignificant part of your past and put you in exactly the right place to use that particular gift or skill.”
That is evident with David.
One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him”. (1 Sam. 16:18).
Did you catch all of those characteristics of David? None of them appear in an instance. They are nurtured in nowhere-ville and utilized when and where God sees fit.
God can even use what we see as insignificant in the past for his significant purposes in the future.
Don’t discount ANYTHING in your past. God is able to use that college degree selection that you regret, that specific job skill that you developed, and that random relationship with which you connected for his purposes. He is able to use your past successes and failures for his glory and your good as you go forward.
Even if it didn’t make sense then, it causes confusion now, it will cause you to stand in awe soon. God wastes nothing. Just wait and see.
[For more on this idea, check out the sermon, “God Notices Nobodies.”]
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.