Margaret Feinberg: The Surprising Truth About Shepherds

An excerpt from her latest book, Scouting the Divine.

As we finished our tea and truffles, I took Lynne to the book of 1 Samuel. I explained that the first mention of someone in Scripture often reveals something significant about the person's character. The first king of Israel, Saul, is introduced as a young man trying, unsuccessfully, to find his father's donkeys. This humorous scene hints at Saul's later inability to lead others well. Though his early years of ruling God's people are marked by humility and self-control, over time Saul becomes disobedient, jealous, and full of hatred. He's known as the foolish king who lost his crown.

The introduction of Saul stands in sharp contrast to the first mention of David, the second king of Israel. The prophet Samuel is told by God that one of the sons of Jesse will be the next king. Noting that the Lord hasn't chosen any of the first seven sons of Jesse, Samuel asks the father if he has any other sons. Jesse responds, "There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep" (1 Samuel ...

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