As we’ve tracked the generations from Abraham toward Jesus, it’s become clear that each and every person named in the Lord’s genealogy is qualified only on the basis of God’s amazing grace. None are stellar examples of purity and perfection as we might have mistakenly expected in the royal line of the King of kings... but the Bible tells the truth... the whole truth... nothing but the truth.
So, let’s keep moving down the list... “and Jesse fathered King David” (Matthew 1:1, CSB).
Before we get to the stories of Jesse and David, we must quickly remember two other important Old Testament characters: Samuel and Saul.
Samuel was God’s faithful prophet and the last of the judges to lead Israel. Samuel was the king-maker who, at God’s direction, anointed both Saul and David as monarchs in Israel.
When God’s chosen people rebelled and demanded a king to rule over them, God allowed them to choose Saul, “an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 9:2, CSB). The Omniscient One knew that the first Israelite king would fail and fall. The fifteenth chapter of First Samuel recounts Saul’s blatant disobedience to God’s clear direction. He thumbed his nose at God, and God moved to replace the people’s king with His own servant.
Just like God graciously chose Abraham, God also chose David. “The Lord has found a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over his people, because (Saul had) not done what the Lord commanded” (1 Samuel 13:14, CSB). “The Lord (tore) the kingship of Israel away” from Saul and gave it to one “who is better” (1 Samuel 15:28, CSB).
God commissioned Samuel saying, “I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected for myself a king from his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1, CSB). When the prophet arrived at the home of Jesse, he found seven fine young men, each strong, each looking like a worthy candidate to become Israel’s next king. One-by-one, God said, “Nope! He’s not my choice!” God told Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, CSB).
Finally, Samuel asked Jesse, “ ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ he answered, ‘but right now he’s tending the sheep’ ” (1 Samuel 16:11, CSB). The youngest son of Jesse was, of course, David. He was just a boy, on a hill outside of Bethlehem, “keeping watch over the flocks by night” (Luke 2:8) ... (Oops... Sorry, that comes later.)
That, my friends, is all that we know about Jesse. Outside of this short story, Jesse is always referred to as David’s daddy. And that’s why Jesse is listed in the genealogy... because he fathered David. That’s all. He wasn’t rich or famous. He wasn’t a powerful military leader or a rich tycoon. He wasn’t a prophet, priest or preacher. He was a man born into the tribe of Judah, the grandson of Ruth and Boaz, a simple man with eight sons.
And, he was a man, mercifully and graciously chosen for duty. His mission: be the daddy of David, and the great, great, great... grandfather of Jesus.