“And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.” (1Sa 17:14-15)
Saul is busy recruiting soldiers for the biggest battle he ever faced. Ahead is standing Goliath, a man almost double his stature, challenging him for a fight. Saul scrambles through his forces to find the perfect man for the battle against Goliath. The scene is quite tensed. That’s when we see the three brothers of David bravely stepping forward for the battle. But David, although he could have followed his brothers to join the army, went back to Bethlehem.
David had something more important to complete. He had to feed his father’s sheep. David, a shepherd, well knew his flock of sheep. He knew how scared they were of the wild animals and how easily they could get into a mischief if left alone. So when David was faced between a choice to feed his sheep and fight the battle with Saul, he chose an option which was stupid, rather which was completely secondary as compared to the battle. Who would give more importance to some flock of sheep over a battle that threatened the whole of Israel? Was feeding some flock of sheep more important than the salvation of the Israelites?
Jesus before ascending up to heaven gave the commandment, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations...” (Mat 28:19 ASV) The commandment to make disciples was something that Jesus stressed upon throughout his life and ministry here on earth. There were people who followed Jesus for their benefits but didn’t look forward to anything spiritual. Jesus stayed away from these people. However there were very few who stuck with Jesus. While preaching the gospel was important, making disciples of those who heard the gospel was even more important for Jesus.
In these times when we stress a lot on witnessing and preaching the gospel to the unsaved, the church has fallen short of the commandment to make disciples. Making disciples is like feeding the flock of sheep. When this world keeps getting wickeder day by day, the chances of the flock of Christ drifting away is great. At these times, it becomes the duty of the shepherd to feed his sheep. God has appointed some as Elders over the church to specially shepherd his flock of sheep. The duty of the elder being awesome compels him to take extra care to nurture the spiritual health of his flock. However it’s not only the role of the Elders to make disciples but each one of us has to play a part in this ministry.
But it didn’t mean that David couldn’t go for the battle. We see David leaving his sheep under the care of a keeper before going for the battle (I Sam. 17:20). It reminds us that while making disciples is important witnessing too should be done along with the spiritual health of the flock being taken care of.