I Have Kept My Father’s Sheep

God says to us people, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9. David’s story makes this very clear.

Picture two big armies standing on hilltops facing each other, a creek in the bottom of the valley and the battle set in array. “For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.” 1 Samuel 17:21. These two armies had been standing there for forty days and nothing had happened; then David came. “And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.” Verses 22, 23.

David had been sent at his father’s command to take supplies to his brothers who were soldiers in the Israelite army. Upon his arrival he saw the giant Goliath standing out in front of the enemy’s army. “And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” Verse 10.

For forty days this giant had been challenging the army of Israel and nothing had happened. David was disappointed and shocked at the reaction of the army. “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.” Verse 24.

Who are these men, trembling at the very sight of the Philistine giant? These are the professionals of Israel—the best warriors of the nation. They have all the credentials, all the training, all the diplomas and degrees needed. Yet when the challenge comes, they are afraid and ready to retreat. Even the rewards promised did not tempt them. The King said, “that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” Verse 25. What more could be offered to the hero? All the riches and honors of the world are offered, even the daughter of the king! Yet with all that was offered there is no one ready to stand up and accept the challenge.

How did this affect the young David as he comes out to salute his brothers? “And David spake to the men who stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Verse 26. David saw a bigger perspective in this battle. It was not an ordinary battle that was taking place. It was the battle between the Philistines, representing the world of Satan, and Israel, representing the living God. The Israelites were the depositaries of God’s law. The insults hurled at the Israelite army reflected upon their God. It was this perspective that David was trying to bring to Israel’s soldiers who were afraid of the big giant.

Like Israel, it is not for our sakes that we must fight; we must fight for the truth. We, as Seventh-day Adventists, are not just another Christian Church among many others that are fighting in a battle.

“The Lord chose a people, and made them the depositaries of His truth. It was His purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live.” The Review and Herald, November 12, 1903.

The sacrificial system, along with the sanctuary service, was to be Israel’s instructor. The Israelites were a special people in their day, and they were to teach a correct understanding of the plan of salvation to the surrounding nations.

The sanctuary truth makes us different from any other church on the earth. It is through that truth that we are to teach the people and show forth the character of God that many people may be brought to the light.

The parallels between this situation and what is happening in Adventism today are obvious. We certainly see the reproach that has been brought upon the cause of God. No longer are God’s people the leading people of this earth. They have become the tail. The Lord’s work is folding up in many places in the world and falling back; this is a reproach to God’s work.

What has happened in Scandinavia over the last five years is shocking. Institution after institution is folding up and going under. People everywhere are asking the question, What happened to these people? Is there still a God that is leading?

We have been known in Scandinavia for decades for our health work. Danish books, written in years past describing churches, reveal that a large percentage of Physical Therapy clinics in Denmark were staffed and operated by Seventh-day Adventists as part of their mission. These physical therapists were educated at the Skodsborg Sanitarium. That sanitarium was part of the great mission of Adventism. But that sanitarium no longer functions and very few of the clinics are run by Adventists anymore. You wonder what people think today as they read those books and question whether that church is what it used to be? There is a heavy reproach upon the Lord’s people all over the world.


False Accusations Against God’s People


As soon as David begins to encourage the men, he is accused of false motives. “And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mayest see the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:27, 28.

Here is a man who is trying to instill a broader perspective into the Israelite soldier’s hearts and what is he being charged with? His own brother accuses him of selfish motives. He said, “You are trying to make yourself something.” He attacked his character.

Does that sound familiar today? The people who stand up for truth are slandered. Their motives are questioned. It encourages me to see David’s response. He did not try to vindicate himself or make all his motives right in their eyes. “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” Verse 29.

We are not to justify ourselves. That is God’s work. If we are slandered and our characters are ruined, it is the Lord’s work to make it right. Our only thought should be, “Is there not a cause?” What can we do to uphold God’s cause? God will take care of our reputations.

“And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.” Verse 30, 31.

“And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight this Philistine.” Verse 32. David was ready to take up the challenge. The master’s call today is who will go for Me? David answered that call.

“And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” Verse 33. Saul was not ready to risk the kingdom on David. He was not convinced that this young man could do anything. He was saying, “What do you have that makes you think that you can go up and accomplish this work? Look at the giant. He is a man of war from his youth.” In other words, He is experienced. He has his credentials. He has his education. He has a certificate, all his degrees, anything the world could offer him. He was the mightiest soldier and warrior of his time. There was no way David could go out against him in worldly terms.

Everything was at stake here. The challenge of the giant was, “Give me one man.” How was David to convince the king that he could go? We often hear today, “No, you are not ready. We cannot send you out.” How are we to convince anyone? “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear: and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and smote him and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, the Lord hath 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.” Verses 34–37.

David’s first words in answer to Saul’s questions were, “I kept my father’s sheep.” There as a shepherd boy, David had learned the skills that prepared him to be used to conquer Goliath. David had an experience with God and that was his qualification. He knew that God was with him and that God had worked miracles for him before. He knew that God would work miracles for him again. He went out to fight for His cause, for His name’s sake, as he fought sheep caught by a lion or bear.

It was this faith and trust in God that were his qualifications to go out to fight. “And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put a helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go.” Verse 38, 39.

Saul said, Yes, you may go, but if you go, you had better go the way I tell you and use the methods that work. You need to use the strategies that have given results in other battles. Science has shown that this armor is the best armor. This is what every other army uses when they fight.

Were these worldly methods good enough? Today, when we attempt to win souls, we look around at the other churches in order to find the methods that have proven successful for them and that they think are working. Then we adopt the practices of other churches that God never sanctioned. God says, “Learn not the way of the heathen.” Jeremiah 10:2. David knew that. He knew that these methods were not the methods that God could bless. “And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” 1 Samuel 17:39.

He took them all off and said, No; these methods do not work. I will use what I know God can bless. So he put aside all of these methods used by the other nations. We should today also. The methods that we are told are working in other Christian churches are not for God’s people. We have methods in the Bible, and these are the methods we need to be using. We need to study and find them and put these other things aside.


God’s Simple Methods


“He took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.” Verse 40.

I can just imagine the Israelites laughing at him for trying to use these simple things against a world empires with all of its methods and techniques. But David was not ashamed. He took his simple weapons and went, unafraid, because he had seen that God had worked miracles with them. Remember, this was how he had conquered the bear and the lion.

Some read the Word that tells us what to do, and they shake their heads and say, “It sounds too simple to me. People will laugh at me if I use these simple things.” There are some people that laugh at any one who uses hydrotherapy. They say, “This is what we used one hundred years ago. We have better methods now.” But God’s methods work. Though they may be simple, they help to win souls.

In Romania, two years ago, we held an evangelistic crusade. Afterward we did home visitation. One day in the market place we met a lady. She came up and asked, “Can you come to our home and study with us?” When we went to her home, we found that her feet were black and swollen and without feeling. As soon as the medical missionary with us saw that, she said, “I can help your feet.” She began with simple hydrotherapy. Within a few days the feeling began to come back into the lady’s feet. She had been going to doctors for years and they could not help her, but because of God’s methods, she could soon walk normally with no pain. After having Bible studies in her home, the whole family, except the father, was baptized.

God’s simple means will work miracles, though the world may despise them. Take the simple Word of God with you. Some people laugh and say it is just a fable; others point to the theologians and their big books, but it does not matter. We can go with God’s simple means, in faith, knowing that God will work through them as He has promised.

“And the Philistine came on and drew nigh unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest against me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” Verses 41–43.

How many of us are ready to stand the ridicule when we go out using God’s methods? We are often afraid of what people will say about us. We only want to do what is popular and accepted. We need to learn to be able to stand for what we know is right. “The Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” Verses 44, 45.

It was not just the armies of Israel that Goliath was defying. It was the God of heaven. It was in His name that David went out to do this battle. David’s only interest was to vindicate the name of the Lord and to bring honor and glory back to His people. He said, “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” Verse 46.

David went forth with an assurance that is amazing for a young man, facing the battle that he faced. But he knew that God was with him and nothing would shake his faith. He was doing an appointed work for God, and he went forward into battle. He said, “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” Verse 47.

We must take up that same challenge, going out and using God’s methods to show the world that there is a God who can still work miracles and that His principles can work in our health and educational institutions. Never forget, these principles work today. We do not need to bring worldly policies into our institutions. God’s simple methods work and He blesses them.

“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.” Verse 50. “All the wonders which God has wrought for His people, have been performed by the most simple means. When the people of God are wholly consecrated to Him, then He will employ them to carry forward His work on the earth.” The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.

Do we have the experience that David had, of knowing that the Lord has worked miracles in our lives? If not, we need to get it, because it is faith and trust in God that will enable us to go out in the battle to work for our King.

“In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied, and more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the plow, from the vineyard, and from various other branches of labor, and sent forth by the Master to give His message. Many of these have had little opportunity for education. To human wisdom the outlook for them would seem discouraging. But Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to take their place in His vineyard if they put their hearts into the work and continue to be learners, He will fit them to labor for Him.” General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1902. God is looking for a people that are ready.

Young people, do not worry if you do not have a worldly education and degrees. The Lord can use you where you are. If you are a farmer or a plumber or whatever your skills may be, the Lord can use you. He sees qualifications in you that He can use in His work.

People who have simple faith and trust in God, and take Him at His word, He can use. Be a learner of God and make sure that you improve the talents that you have. Then you can be used.

Paul reminds us, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:27–29.

God uses simple means and simple people so that He might be glorified by our working for others. Do you want to be part of that army of workers that will reestablish the glory of His people and take away the reproach that has been put upon us by those who are not ready to use His methods in His work? The Lord will turn the captivity of Zion. Are you ready to be a part of those that the Lord can use?

Notice what gave Peter and John their ability. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13.

That is our qualification. If we spend time with Jesus, He will educate us and prepare us to take a place in His army, and take away the reproach of His people. We must be ready to let Him develop in us the faith, trust and courage that it will take to go out against the mightiest of this world. Are you ready to be part of that army? Are you ready to say, “I have kept my Father’s sheep and through that experience I am ready to go forward”?

The Lord is ready to do a mighty work for His people, to finish the work that has been started on this earth. This big battle will be finished and people will see that there is a God in Israel who still works. May we all work faithfully to that end that we soon may go home and together meet our Lord.