“One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. 18 And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.”- I Samuel 17:17-18.
Most people know the story of David and Goliath. But the back story is not near as exciting. Family patriarch Jesse was interested in how the war was going with the Philistines, so he asked David to go and see how his brothers were doing. Remember this happens right after David was told he would be king in 1 Samuel 16. And now the future king was asked to take grain and cheese to his brothers. The one who was going to be king was turned into a glorified messenger boy.
David was probably not very pleased but he did what his father told him to do. He dutifully delivers the grain and cheese at the very place where he would face Goliath and where his actions would put him in the spotlight and make him a national hero. We remember the epic battle with Goliath, but we also need to remember that if David had refused to carry food to his brothers, had David felt this task to be beneath him, had David asserted some authority and refused to serve his father and brothers in this manner, he never would’ve had the opportunity to face Goliath. It was his faithfulness in the small things that led him to his moment of greatness.
David killed the giant. It was a big, miraculous, God-intervening-and-guiding-the-next-events moment. But we need to remember, David served as a shepherd, spending hours watching and tending to sheep. In those long, boring, mundane days, he practiced using a rod to defend those sheep against predators. He became deadly accurate with the slingshot. In essence, God prepared David in the mundane, seemingly small task of shepherding for this great moment in his life. David’s faithfulness in the little things, in doing what God called him to in his younger years is what gave David the necessary skills for this later task.
When you have big dreams, small things can sometimes be frustrating. It is easy to get impatient and want to move onto bigger and better things. Zechariah 4:10 tells us, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” It’s progress that pleases Him. There are many important lessons to be learned before heading to bigger and better things. Faithfully adhering to those seemingly lesser duties and small things lay the groundwork for the later, bigger moments. Showing up, working hard, learning from mistakes, and a willingness to do whatever it takes provides the needed skills to later have the spotlight moments. This principle can be applied in many ways, for instance in marriage, or parents working with children or bosses with employees, or generally in relationships. Or starting small in tithing or being generous. To get to where we want to be, we need to be responsible for the small things and then move onto larger things once we prove ourselves trustworthy.
Like David in the field or carrying bread and cheese to his brothers, faithfulness in the little tasks is what leads us to serve well on the larger stages of life.
- Is there big power in doing small things well?
- Do you believe that doing the small things well will make a big difference?
- In what area this week do we need to start small, but start?