He bade them purify themselves and prepare for the sacrifice and for the feast that would follow after it, and enquired where he would find one named Jesse who lived in the city.

He was taken to his house, and as soon as he was within, he drew Jesse apart and talked with him alone. He asked him concerning his sons, and bade him bring them in that he might sanctify them, and himself prepare them for the sacrifice. To this he bade them come one and all, and to the feast. Jesse hastened to obey him, striving in vain to find a reason why he himself of all the chief men of the city had been singled out for this honour. He made the prophet welcome. He waited upon him and showed him the courtesy and reverence befitting his high office. Meanwhile he had sent out servants to call in his sons from their work or wherever they might be.

When they were ready, each one of them in turn was brought into the presence of Samuel, whose whole mind was intent on the supreme object that had brought him to Bethlehem that day.

Eliab, who was the eldest of Jesse’s sons, was the first to pass before him. He was a man of great stature and of a bold and resolute face. And when Samuel looked on him he said within himself: ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here with me in his presence!’ For in all things that are clear and impressive at first view Eliab was such a man as Samuel himself delighted in. The thought pierced him, for it recalled to memory the day when he had first seen Saul.

But the divine voice within him cried its warning: ‘Be not misled, look not with favour on this man for the sake of his countenance or the height of his stature. He is not the Lord’s chosen. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. The eyes of man look only on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.’

Then Jesse summoned Abinadab, the next of his sons in order of age, into the presence of the prophet. But neither was Abinadab the chosen of the Lord. Nor Shammah, Jesse’s third son. So each one of Jesse’s seven sons who were with him in the house were brought before Samuel, and his eyes dwelt on each face in turn with the same grave scrutiny. But still he knew in his heart that none of them was the man whom he was seeking.

So all at last had come and gone their way. Perplexed yet tranquil, Samuel pondered within himself awhile, then turned to Jesse: ‘Are these young men whom I have seen,’ he asked him, ‘all thy sons? For of a truth none of them is he whom I am seeking and whom the Lord has chosen to honour.’

And Jesse answered: ‘There remains only the youngest of them. He is little more than a child, and very dear to me, and he is now in the fields keeping the sheep.’

Then Samuel bade Jesse send at once to fetch him. ‘We will not sit down to the feast,’ he said, ‘until he come hither.’

A servant was dispatched in haste. He ran down from out of the city into the pastures that lay in the green valleys to look for the boy and to bring him in. He found him sitting with his sheep, his shepherd’s pipe in his hand, and he returned with him to his father.

So David came in from the fields, and stood before Samuel. He was in the first brightness of his youth, being not yet even of the age of Joseph when he set out from the Vale of Hebron in his coat of many colours in search of his brothers. He was blue-eyed and ruddy, with wind and sun, of a beautiful countenance withal and goodly to look to. He bowed himself before the prophet, solemnly, like a boy, and marvelling for what reason he had been called in from his sheep.

The old man gazed steadily into his clear wide eyes; and the voice within him which he had learned to heed and to obey since his own childhood, cried within him, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he!’

Then in the presence of Jesse his father and of his seven sons Samuel arose and took the horn of holy oil that he had brought with him from Ramah, and poured it upon David’s head and anointed him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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