When we read the story of David and we do zero in on the kind of relationship he had with his brothers and father, Jesse, it paints an intriguing picture of a strained and dysfunctional relationship. David himself testifies to the apathetic treatment handed down to him by his family when he said “I am a foreigner to my own family. A stranger to my own mother’s children.” Psalm 69:8
I believe this has also caught the eye of some bible scholars as well. That is why there are some speculations and theories out there by bible scholars in an attempt to explain the reason why David was treated like a foreigner in his own family. But I won’t go into those theories because they are mostly extrabiblical legends and there is no way to verify the authenticity of those tales. And those who also tried to explain this strained relationship between David and Jesse with biblical suggestions are faced with sharp counter-evidence in the bible that negated their position. For example, some say that David was not treated with dignity like his other brothers because his mother was a prostitute so he was birthed out of Jesse’s immoral affair with David’s mother who was a prostitute. And they justify it with Psalm 51:5 when David said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” But there is also a place in the bible where David prayed and said, “Save me because I serve you just as my mother did.” (Psalm 86:16). The question is how can David’s mother be a prostitute when David confessed that his mother served God? Again, some scholars have suggested that David was reviled by his family because he was from a different mother. But Psalm 69:8 says otherwise when David reveals that he is a stranger to his own mother’s children.
So my explanation on why David was treated like a foreigner in his own family is purely going to base on experience and revelation devoid of the attempt to manufacture scriptures to explain the circumstances of David’s ordeal. Hence, this is why David was reviled, denigrated, sidelined and underrated by his own family.
Two reasons why David was treated as a foreigner in his own family
1. It was God doing it
You are a child of God. You try to do the right things always, yet, you keep going through rejections, adversities, misfortunes and all forms of challenges and unfair treatment. Strange things keep happening in your life that is difficult to explain. When these become your experience as a child of God over a long period, then know that you are in the ‘wilderness’ period and that it is God doing it. David was in his ‘wilderness’ period and it was God doing it. The ‘wilderness’ period is to refine, equip and prepare you for your prophetic destiny. As a Christian, you should understand that nothing happens to you without God allowing it. So if God allowed it, then it means he knows what he is doing. You have to keep trusting him as David did. If you fail to understand that it is God doing it, you are likely going to become very bitter because in this period people are going to treat you unfairly. People will be ungrateful towards you, they will quickly forget your sacrifice of love for them. People will misunderstand you. People are going to reject and sometimes hate you for nothing. I believe David found a way to drive bitterness away from his heart by learning how to play the harp in the forest. David made himself happy by writing songs and praising God even though he was alone in the forest with the sheep.
2. It was the leadership style and principle of David’s father, Jesse.
I believe the tradition in a lot of homes is that the last born is supposed to be the pampered one, the weaker one and the one who needs more care and protection. But not all parents believe or fancy that idea, system or principle. Some parents believe that the older ones have to be the first and the priory in all things as a sign of respect for the elders. It is like a queue, you were born last so you are supposed to be the last in everything. You dare not attempt to surpass the elder ones when you are the last born, else, your efforts and dreams may be suppressed by your parents or siblings. An example is how Joseph’s brothers treated him because of his dreams. Another example is what Laban told Jacob when Jacob wanted to marry Rachel. Laban said to Jacob, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.” I believe very much that this was the kind of parenting David grew under, where you are not supposed to achieve what the elders have not yet achieved. You are to wait for your time and turn. When we compare Jesse’s philosophy and style of parenting with that of Jacob, we notice a loud difference. Unlike Jesse, Jacob protected his younger children, Joseph and Benjamin. He loved and cared for them so much and gave them much attention and priority.
I believe that what even made David’s situation worse was the fact that he was in the ‘wilderness’ period of his life coupled with the fact that he grew up in a home where his father, Jesse, did not believe last borns or the younger ones had anything valuable to offer to the family. So these are the reasons why David was treated as a foreigner in his own family, and why he was not appreciated.