In the book of 1st Samuel, Ch-16, we read a story where God commissions Samuel to anoint David king. There are several great lessons to be learned from this historical account, first being that God moves in ways we don't understand, and it's best if we don't try and improve on His plans.
Samuel is told to go and trust God to "show [him] what to do". God says, "You are to anoint for me the one I indicate". Now Samuel was told to go to Bethlehem, and to the house of Jesse, which he did, and there he would anoint one of Jesse's sons. When he arrived, he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and they began to come to him, one at a time.
First was Eliab, and we have the impression he was the oldest son, apparently he was big and strong, perhaps good looking, we don't know, but what we do know is that Samuel immediately thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But God said, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) Lesson #2 for us!
Next was Abinadab, but he too was rejected by God, as was Shammah, and 4 additional sons we aren't given the names of (1 Sam 16:8-10). But Samuel knew the Lord had sent him to anoint one of Jesse's sons, so he knew there must still be one he hadn't yet seen. Lesson #3 for us. So he asks, “Are these all the sons you have?” (vs 11)
Indeed there was one more, but he was just a boy. Using some other things we know about David's life, we can do the math backward from when David actually became king over Judah at age 30. David spent years running from Saul and being patient while some of God's other plans played out, and we can estimate David was about 10-12 (maybe as old as 15) when Samuel anointed him. (Note: there is considerable disagreement among bible scholars as to the exact age, but suffice it to say, David was young). It would be 15-20 years before David ruled as a king, but God set this plan in motion while he was still a young boy, one who was not even considered initially, apparently due to his age. Lesson #4 for us.
So the big picture lesson for us today is simply this. God chose one everyone else failed to consider. God had plans for him that were unique to God's will. David assuming the throne was progressive, first with God's anointment at the hands of Samuel the prophet of God at about age 12 (1 Sam 16:13). Later, he was anointed by the men of Judah at age 30 (2 Sam 2:4) and finally, as king of Israel by the elders of Israel at age 37 (2 Sam 5:3).
David could have risen to power much faster by killing king Saul, he had several opportunities to do that. But we see David restraining himself, and instead progressively rising to eventual power over all Israel. During those years, David was gaining the approval of man. He was also developing his leadership character which led him to be the great king he was. He was a perfect example for us of how to submit to God's will, in God's way, on God's time table.
Many of the characteristics and qualities mankind would consider when choosing a king, God did not consider. God looked at the heart of David. Yet another lesson for us.
We live in this "I want it, and I want it now" society, and having patience like we see in the story of David, is something foreign to us 99% of the time. God has called us to great things too, and it would sometimes be nice if we came out of the box fully assembled with batteries charged. Yet like David, God has a timeline for us too, to grow us, mature us, and use us for His glory.
David ruled some 40 years as king, with 33 of those years being in Jerusalem over Israel, but God grew him from birth to the throne over 30 long years. Who else did God bring about in a similar fashion? God brought Jesus to the forefront of His people at age 12, yet it was age 30 before He began His world changing ministry.
What has God done to get us to where we are, and does He still have greater things in store for us?