When men are being trained for war, they typically know it. The discipline. The drills. The exercises. The community. The fact that their training is pretty much their life. They are not prepared for war by accident.
Such was not the case for David. In Psalm 144:1, David praises God and thanks Him for training him for battle. But when looking back at 1 Samuel, we see that David was not even a part of the Israelite army when he fought his first battle. He was a shepherd, and by all human standards (see 1 Sam 17:28, 33) he did not have proper training. Yet when the time came for him to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and join in the consequent routing of the Philistines, David was ready. Not because he’d received great army training but because he had received direct training from God as he went through his day to day life.
I wonder if somewhere down deep David knew he wasn’t going to be a shepherd for the rest of his life. I wonder if he was just waiting. It’s hard to know, really. The writings that reveal his heart don’t come from those shepherding days. They don’t show us the boy. They show us the man – the man waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled or the man trying to live diligently as the king he was called to be.
Whatever his emotions or thoughts as a boy, though, David was teachable. He learned to rely on the strength of the Lord when faced with danger. He learned to praise God with instruments and words. He learned to call on the Lord from the depths of his heart. And when the time came for him to be called to greater things, all of his lessons had been learned and mastered. He was ready.
As you evaluate where you are today, can you see how God trained you in earlier days? Maybe as a child. Maybe just last week. But, the training was there. Did you accept it? Did you learn from it? Do you look at your life now and find yourself thankful for it? Or do you look at where you are today and wish that you could go back and learn those lessons you chose to buck against instead?
God is still teaching you. He’s still training. He’s still preparing you today for what He will call you to tomorrow. But just like the lions and bears David faced as a youth looked nothing like the giant he faced in his first “real” battle, it might be hard for you to see how anything you’re learning now could possibly take you where your heart longs to go in the future. But, God sees the connections that we might never understand. God knows just how learning to play the harp today will open the doors for you to sit on the throne tomorrow. He knows how learning to express your heart in the peaceful solitude of the fields will help you maintain your sanity when life seems to be falling apart around you.
Like a modern soldier, we each require intense training to be prepared for the battles and experiences before us. Unlike a soldier, however, our training might not be quite so obvious. But it’s still intense. It’s still powerful. It’s still valid. And it’s still sufficient – maybe even moreso – to prepare us for what lies ahead. May we not buck God’s training, but instead may we look back and praise Him for training us even when we were unaware.