This Sunday, I talked to my children about young David, and we wondered why God chose him instead of his brothers to be king. What made him different?
We discussed David’s youth, and I read them the following quote imagining what David would have done in his spare time while tending sheep:
On those pastoral jaunts, this youngest son always carried two things: a sling and a small, guitarlike instrument. Spare time for a sheepherder is abundant on rich mountain plateaus where sheep can graze for days in one sequestered meadow. But as time passed and days became weeks, the young man became very lonely. The feeling of friendlessness that always roamed inside him was magnified. He often cried. He also played his harp a great deal. He had a good voice, so he often sang…The shepherd-singer-slinger also loved his Lord. At night, when all the sheep lay sleeping and he sat staring at the dying fire, he would strum upon his harp and break into quiet song. He sang the ancient hymns of his forefathers’ faith. While he sang he wept, and while weeping he often broke out into abandoned praise—until mounts in distant places lifted up his praise and tears and passed them on to higher mountains, until they eventually reached the ears of God (Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings, pp. 3-4).
In Gene Edwards’ recreation, David probably spent much of his spare time praising God. I think that is very likely. Remember how young David was already famous for his playing (1 Sam 16:14-23).
As we talked about young David praising God while he was in the fields, we read Psalm 146 (an anonymous Psalm), but our discussion did not get past the first two verses:
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being (Ps 146:1-2).
The NLT put it in language that was easier for my kids to understand:
Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath (Ps 146:1-2 NLT).
That’s what young David did—perhaps more than anyone else in Israel. Did it single him out to the King of Kings? Was it years of praise that molded David’s heart to be like God’s and gave him a willingness to obey? (cf. Acts 13:22).
What was particularly important to our little family is how praising God is something even an otherwise unremarkable kid tending sheep in a field can do. So we talked about that.
What does it mean to praise the Lord?
What does it mean to praise Him with all that you are?
And what does it mean to praise Him till your dying breath?
As we talked, I thought about how much my parenting has emphasized reading and writing, counting and making your bed, putting away your dishes, and making sure to play outside in the sun. But have I emphasized praising the Lord? Why not?
It’s because we think those other things are “obvious” things a father should teach his children, and they are, but why don’t we emphasize praising the Lord just as much? Isn’t it “obvious,” too? Shouldn’t it be?
With time, I hope it will.
After all, our discussion occurred in the context of a family celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We prayed together and read Scripture together and called out to the Lord on behalf of our neighbors. My kids are learning to worship God as kids and that God is pleased by what they can do. And for that, I praise God!