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King David's crown Jesse Tree symbol

An underdog king

December 11

Read: A selection from 1 Samuel 16:1-15

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” …

Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” … He sent and brought [David] in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him.

Read the full passage.


God loves to make the underdog the hero of the story. God doesn’t usually pick the strongest person or the coolest one or the oldest one. He likes to use weak, dorky, little siblings.

If you looked at him, you wouldn’t think David would make a very good king. He didn’t know how to fight in battles. He had never worked in city government. He had spent a lot of time with sheep, and that was about it.

But that’s exactly the person God wanted to use. The little brother. It’s kind of like how God picked the people of Israel—a tiny group of people who weren’t very strong or impressive on their own—to be the people he would bless the whole world through.

And it’s a lot like how God decided to show his love to everyone by coming as a tiny, fragile baby. If you looked at Jesus, you wouldn’t think he would make a very good king. When he was a kid, he spent a lot of time building chairs with his dad. When he grew up, he didn’t show everyone how cool and powerful he was. He allowed the government to kill him.

In Jesus, God makes himself the underdog so that we can live.


What other stories have an underdog as the hero? How is God using you, even though you’re not a grown-up or the most powerful and richest person?


Sometimes you surprise me, God! You like to use people whom the world doesn’t think are important. Help me remember that you want to use me, too. Amen.

This devotion is part of

The Jesse Tree Story:
A Family Advent Devotional

Each devotion in this family Advent devotional invites you into the story of someone on Jesus’s family tree. These devotions will show young children how God was preparing for Jesus to be born across many generations. Each story pairs with a symbol you can hang on your own Jesse Tree.

Get the devotional
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