Have you seen the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life? Surely, you know the story. Down-and-out banker George Bailey stands over an icy river, ready to end it all, asking God to strike his name from history’s roll. At that moment, a friendly angel appears and takes George on a tour to see how life would have turned out for his town if God honored his request. When the movie ends and the credits roll, a warm, fuzzy feeling hovers over the heart. It’s the feeling of gratitude.
In the Book of 1 Samuel, the nation of Israel battled an ungrateful spirit. God’s chosen people could not settle into the life He desired for them. They wanted someone else’s destiny, which included an earthly king at the helm. Eventually, God acquiesced and placed Saul on the throne. As expected, their perfect plan quickly went awry.

King Saul was a nightmare. Arrogant, cocky, egotistical, autocratic—he was the typical earthly king—and exactly what the nation had requested. When Saul failed miserably, God was good to provide a sterling replacement. David was a man after God’s own heart, and his greatness became apparent from the first drop of oil. Notice the making of a godly leader, what we might call a recipe for greatness.

Greatness Requires Humility
In verse 1, Samuel is distraught because Saul had fallen; but God rebukes his lack of faith: “How long will you mourn for Saul? Fill your horn with oil.” It’s My turn to call a king!

Samuel was sent on his way to the little town of Bethlehem, where he meets Jesse, a man whose faithfulness is seen immediately. He made sure all his sons were lined up for sacrifice and worship…except for one, the youngest.

Samuel set his eyes on the first son and said, “Ahhhh, the perfect choice: impressive, handsome, confident.” God said, “Do not look at his appearance, or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In 1 Samuel 16:10, Jesse parades all seven boys before Samuel; but the man of God responds, “Is this all you have in stock? Are there not other options in the back room?” Jesse said, “Yes and no. There is one more option, but I can assure you that you are wasting your time. He’s out in the fields tending the sheep.”

Samuel shocked the group and demanded that supper be put on hold. Nobody ate until the shepherd boy arrived. David responded to the summons, and the reader meets the boy from whom no one expected anything. Moments later, the oil of God spills over David.

What can we learn from this odd turn of events? We glean this: God may be unpredictable at times, mysterious even, but He is remarkably consistent. Repeatedly, He chooses the weak to shame the strong. Humility is the doorway to greatness.

Greatness Requires a Pure Heart
In 1 Samuel 16:14, God said: “I have sought out a man after my own heart.” When the Bible uses the word heart, this refers to the seat of emotions, which includes the mind, will and intellect.

When God scanned the inventory of David’s soul, he saw character and integrity. He saw faith and a teachable spirit. These are the things God views as most valuable. While our society places a huge price tag on an hourglass figure, six-pack abs and wrinkle-free skin, God looks for men and women of character.

Greatness Requires the Presence of the Holy Spirit
After David was shocked by Samuel’s oil, we learn in 1 Samuel 16:13, “From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord cam upon David in power.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how talented a person might be, how many followers he or she has on Facebook, how many diplomas are hanging on his or her wall. What makes the biggest difference in a person’s life is the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence.

Spirit was David’s only hope for success. He had the humility. He had the heart. Most important, he had the Holy Spirit.

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