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This devotion is part of the Jesse Tree Advent devotion series. 

Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-15

It’s hard not to love the story of an underdog. Like so many people in Jesus’s family history, David is an unlikely pick. He’s not the firstborn. In fact, he’s the baby of the family, the last of Jesse’s eight sons. In his life thus far, he hasn’t been much of a hero. When Samuel anoints him, David hasn’t defeated Goliath. He hasn’t created complex battle strategies. He’s an unknown farm boy.

Yet it’s David, the underdog, whom God chooses to lead his people. God subverts expectations, choosing a young shepherd, not an experienced politician.

God has a habit of subverting expectations. David was an unexpected choice, as was Israel as a whole. If you wanted to bless the world, would you work through a tiny people group, often dominated by other nations?

And when you finally came to save your people and express your love for the whole world, would you come in the flesh as a member of that underdog nation? Would you be born as a baby, vulnerable and unknown? Would you work as a common tradesman, acquiring none of the experience or accolades of a political victor? Would you submit to humiliation, persecution, and even death at the hands of a powerful empire?

In Jesus Christ, descendant of Jesse and David, God’s love for the whole world is shown. Jesus is the one anointed to be king, not just of Israel but of all people. In the greatest subversion of expectations, God makes himself the underdog and triumphs over sin and death.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for working in ways contrary to what I expect. Thank you for showing me the way of humility and self-sacrifice, in both your birth and your death. I rejoice that you rose from the dead and reign in glory, and I await your return. Amen.

About the author

Grace Claus is resident theologian and editor for Faithward. She's also managing editor of RCA Today, the denominational magazine of the Reformed Church in America.