Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 27 2019 - 1 Samuel 16 – Samuel anoints David

Saul has become a wilful ruler who wants to have absolute power and do things his own way. His disobedience has resulted in him being rejected by God. Samuel seems to have found this hard to accept. Had not God chosen this man to be Israel's king? Had he not seemed head-and-shoulders above all rival candidates for kingship? Maybe, despite his unruly character, Samuel continued to see Saul as his protégé, the hope for the future unity and prosperity of Israel. So he is grieved that the Lord has rejected him.

Samuel is rebuked by the Lord for hanging on to hopes regarding Saul and is sent off to the little town of Bethlehem to anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse.

I'm not sure what reputation Samuel had gained for himself in Israel but when he arrives in Bethlehem the elders of the town trembled and asked, "Do you come in peace?" Maybe they knew that Saul no longer enjoyed the Lord's favour and feared that Samuel had come to seek out a replacement among the families of the town. This, they feared, would stir up Saul's wrath and bring trouble on the town. But Samuel tells them that he has come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. The townspeople are invited to consecrate themselves and join Samuel in offering the sacrifice.

The Lord had told Samuel that he should anoint one of Jesse's sons to succeed Saul. When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse's eldest son, he immediately thought that this must be the one whom the Lord had chosen. But the Lord tells him that this is not the one for, "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Each of Jesse's sons is paraded before Samuel, but none of these is the one chosen by the Lord. There is only one son left, David, the youngest and least significant son who has been left in the fields to look after his father's sheep. When he is sent for and arrives before Samuel the Lord says, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one" (16:12).

On that day the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. But the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul who, instead, was tormented by an evil spirit – he is a man with a troubled mind. Saul's servants suggest that music may pacify him. David was already well known for his ability to play the lyre; one of the courtiers not only spoke of his musical ability but also described him as "a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him" (v.18). So David was summoned to play for Saul and was honoured with the title of Saul's armour-bearer. He has gained a place in the courts of the king.

God still looks upon the heart; he looks for a people who will reflect his own heart, who will be like his own beloved Son. What does the Lord see when he looks into your heart?

Lord, we are all too painfully aware of the many ways in which are hearts are prone to wander away from you and to be filled with thoughts that would make us ashamed if others knew of them. You know our hearts. You know that we love you and want to honour and serve you. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit within us, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Fill me with the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Peter Misselbrook