Hard Row to Hoe

This idiom seems to be about gardening, but is refers to a difficult situation with many problems to negotiate along the way. When Jesse’s youngest son, David, was  summoned from the pasture to be anointed the next king of Israel, a palace vision appeared. (I Samuel 16) The 15 year old shepherd did not know about the hard row he would have to hoe to get there. Not long after being anointed, David was recommended for a palace job as harp player to soothe King Saul. On at least 5 recorded occasions, Saul hurled a spear at David to kill him. His father, Jesse, dispatched him to the front lines of battle in the Valley of Elah to take food to his other sons fighting against the Philistines.  While there, David witnessed the 9 feet tall Philistine champion, Goliath, taunting King Saul and the Israelite soldiers. David took a sling and a stone to a sword fight and won! Saul’s ego got the better of him when David was credited as being a  superior warrior. I Samuel 18:9 says “And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” Out of fear for his life, David went on the run, sleeping rough in caves with the 400 discontented, distressed, debtors who gathered around him. He had the added burden of the entirety of  his father, Jesse’s household with him.
Motivated by survival, David sought refuge with  former enemy, the Philistines. King Achish gave David the city of Ziklag to settle his people. David and his men returned home one day to find all their families and livestock gone and the city burned. I Samuel 30:6 says “ David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him.” How could he keep his mind on the promise of the palace? I Samuel 16:13b says “From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David inower.” The Lord was with him in every hard row he had to hoe. Finally after Saul’s death, 30 year old David was  anointed King over Judah and 7 years later over all Israel. He ruled in Jerusalem 33 years.