The Humblest of Origins
Yael Eckstein | February 22, 2023
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” — 1 Samuel 16:1
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the Zionist movement was at the forefront of the work being done to create the State of Israel. However, many pious and religious Jews rejected Zionism because the Zionist political movement was led by, and mostly made up of, secular Jews who had rejected the practice of the Jewish faith.
The religious Jews argued that such a movement could not possibly be divinely ordained. After all, surely God would only bring about the salvation and return of the Jewish people to Israel through God-fearing individuals and leaders!
But God often works through people who we would least expect. Frequently in history, God uses people who we look at as unworthy for His purposes. Maybe this is just one more way that God reminds us that we will never understand Him!
The Humblest of Origins
We see this in the Bible, as well. We read, “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’”
We all know David as the great king of Israel, beginning the eternal royal line. But if you had lived at that time, you might have been thinking, “Him? Really?”
You see, although David came from the Tribe of Judah, his lineage was questionable. The Book of Ruth concludes by recounting the generations that led to David. Ruth was David’s great-grandmother. But the Book of Ruth also traces David’s lineage all the way back to Perez, son of Judah himself.
Once it went back that far, why did the Bible stop at Perez? Why not mention Judah, too? Recall that Perez was born out of wedlock from a scandalous affair between Judah and Tamar (see Genesis 38:29). And even within David’s own family, he was the youngest brother, the one who seemed least destined for greatness.
The Bible wants to remind us that David, whose great-grandmother was a Moabite and who was also descended from an illicit relationship, was also the great king of Israel. David came from the humblest of origins. David, author of Psalms, never lost that humility, and that’s what made him a great leader.
What do you look for in a leader? Are the leaders in your community humble people?