1 Sam. 16:1-13 - EXEGESIS (Donovan)
CONTEXT: Samuel made his farewell address (chapter 12) after renewing Saul's kingship (11:14-15). But Saul made an unlawful sacrifice, and Samuel told him, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of Yahweh your God, which he commanded you; for now Yahweh would have established your kingdom on Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. Yahweh has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and Yahweh has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which Yahweh commanded you" (13:13-14).
Then Saul made a rash oath, battling the Philistines, made a rash oath (14:24) that put his son, Jonathan, at risk of death - but the people ransomed Jonathan so that he might live (14:27:30, 36-46). Then Samuel told Saul, "Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don't spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and nursing baby, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (15:3). Saul defeated Amalek, but "spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the cattle, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and wouldn't utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly" (15:9).
The Lord responded by telling Samuel, "It grieves me that I have set up Saul to be king" (15:11), but Saul defended his actions by saying that he intended to make sacrifices to the Lord of the animals that he had saved (15:20-21). Samuel responded with a statement that is reminiscent of the message of the prophets (Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8), "Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh?" (15:22). Saul pled for pardon, but Samuel said, "Yahweh has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you" (15:28). Then Samuel "cut Agag in pieces before Yahweh in Gilgal" (15:33), and "Yahweh grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel" (15:35).
1 SAMUEL 16:1-3: I HAVE PROVIDED A KING FOR MYSELF
Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons." 2 But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' 3 You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you."
"Yahweh said to Samuel, 'How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?'" (v. 1a). Samuel is the Lord's prophet - the one through whom the Lord carries out the Lord's agenda - and the Lord has work for Samuel to do. The overriding concern here is not Saul's future, but Israel's. There is no time for grieving. Saul has proven himself unworthy, and it is time to anoint another king.
▪ We must ask why the Lord rejects Saul so decisively for his sins (improper sacrifice and failure to obey the Lord's order to kill all the Amalekites and all of their livestock), but later allows David to continue as king after committing adultery with Bathsheba and arranging for the death of his faithful soldier, Uriah. To our minds, David's sins were far more grievous than Saul's sins-although the Lord might see that differently. Saul's sins had to do with improper sacrifice and failure to obey the Lord's commands, direct affronts to the Lord.
▪ But there is another possibility as well. When the Lord appointed Saul as king, the appointment was conditional - dependent on Saul's obedience (12:14-15, 25). But the Lord will make an unconditional covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:13-15). Why the change? We don't know for sure. Perhaps, after his experience with Saul, the Lord decides that the only way to establish continuity is to make a commitment that does not require such a high standard of obedience from the other side.
"Fill your horn with oil, and go" (v. 1b). The oil is for the purpose of anointing David. Samuel is to use his horn - possibly a flask made from a ram's horn - as a vessel to carry the oil.
"I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite; for I have provided a king for myself among his sons"(v. 1c). This is the first mention of Jesse, indicative of the fact that the Lord has not chosen the son of a famous man but rather the son of an unknown man.
"Samuel said, 'How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me'" (v. 2a). Samuel is the most prominent personage in Israel other than Saul, so Saul will almost certainly hear that Samuel is traveling to Bethlehem. If he suspects that Samuel is going to Bethlehem to anoint the new king, it would be natural for him to be distressed - possibly even murderous. Samuel has reason to be concerned.
▪ On the other hand, if the Lord is sending Samuel on this journey to carry out the Lord's purposes, it stands to reason that the Lord will protect Samuel. Where is Samuel's faith? But very often when the Lord asks us to do something risky, we are more likely to see the risk than the possibility of the Lord's protection. That is what happens here.
"Yahweh said, 'Take a heifer with you, and say, I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh'" (v. 2b). The Lord gives Samuel in advance words to deflect suspicion. This is, in part, a subterfuge to dispel Samuel's fear, but it is also true. Samuel does go to make a sacrifice. This account doesn't describe the sacrifice itself (16:5-6).
"Call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. You shall anoint to me him whom I name to you" (v. 3). Samuel, as the Lord's prophet, has a powerful ministry, but it isn't Samuel who is making the decisions here, but the Lord. The Lord has told him what to say if challenged. The Lord will tell him what to do. The Lord will tell him whom to anoint.
1 SAMUEL 16:4-5: SAMUEL DID THAT WHICH YAHWEH SPOKE
4 So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?" 5 He said, "In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
"Samuel did that which Yahweh spoke, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, 'Do you come peaceably?'" (v. 4). Samuel obeys the Lord and goes to Bethlehem, a journey of about 10 miles (16 km).
▪ Age is venerated. These elders would be among the oldest and wisest men from each community. They are responsible for administering justice (Deuteronomy 19:1; 22:18-19). It was "all the elders of Israel" who first challenged Samuel, saying, "Behold, you are old, and your sons don't walk in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations" (1 Samuel 8:4-5). The king that the Lord anointed to satisfy that request was Saul.
▪ Samuel has a fearsome reputation, enhanced by his recent execution of King Agag (15:33). The elders, not knowing the purpose of Samuel's visit, are understandably nervous - even trembling. They must wonder if a local citizen has incurred God's wrath. If so, will Samuel inflict God's wrath on that person or on their entire community. They ask Samuel directly, "Do you come peaceably?"
"He said, 'Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice'" (v. 5a). Samuel first assures the elders of his peaceful intentions, and then invites them to attend the sacrifice. He tells them to sanctify themselves - to cleanse themselves ritually - to make themselves holy so that they might participate in a holy sacrifice. We will hear nothing more of these elders.
"He sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice" (v. 5b). Samuel cleanses Jesse and his sons (but one of Jesse's sons is missing, as we will soon learn). Samuel invites them to the sacrifice as well. Given that there is no further mention of the elders, we don't know whether they accepted the invitation and are present - although it is difficult to imagine that they declined. It would appear that the congregation for the sacrifice includes the elders, Jesse, and Jesse's sons.
1 SAMUEL 16:6-10: DO NOT LOOK ON HIS FACE OR ON HIS HEIGHT
6 When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before Him." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either." 9 Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either." 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."
"It happened, when they had come, that he looked at Eliab" (v. 6a). Eliab is Jesse's firstborn son (1 Chronicles 2:13). The firstborn son has priority according to Torah law (Exodus 13:2, 12; 34:19; Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 3:12-13; Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
"Surely Yahweh's anointed is before him" (v. 6b). The physical act of anointing involves the application of anointing oil, but the sense is somewhat different here. "The Lord's anointed" refers to a person set apart by the Lord for a special role. The implication is that the Lord has not only chosen this person, but has given him the power needed to perform the required duties.
"But Yahweh said to Samuel, 'Don't look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for I see not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart'" (v. 7). There is an emphasis on proper seeing in these verses. Samuel "looked on Eliab," but failed to see him as the Lord sees him.
▪ The Lord tells Samuel not to look on Eliab's appearance or his height. Saul was an "impressive young man" who "from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people" (9:2; see also 10:23)- but these characteristics have not made him a good king. The Lord is looking for something else - something more.
▪ People tend to see superficially. We put too much stock in physical appearances. We are too easily deceived by people who appear to have good character but who do not. Jesus will say, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).
▪ But there is nothing superficial in the way that the Lord sees us. The Lord sees our hearts - knows our intimate secrets - assesses accurately our character and faith.
"Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, 'Neither has Yahweh chosen this one'" (v. 8). Abinadab is Jesse's second-born (1 Chronicles 2:13). Jesse is sending the most likely candidates before Samuel one by one - rank-ordering his sons by age. But the Lord tells Samuel that Abinadab is not the chosen one.
"Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. He said, 'Neither has Yahweh chosen this one'" (v. 9). Shammah is Jesse's third-born son- called Shimea in 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 2:13). But the Lord tells Samuel that Shammah is not the chosen one.
"Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel" (v. 10a). Jesse has seven sons in addition to David, so the total number is eight. However 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 says, "Jesse became the father of his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh."
▪ In the Bible, the number seven has symbolic value, representing completeness or fulfillment. "God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work which he had created and made" (Genesis 2:3). Jacob served seven years - and then another seven years - for Rachel (Genesis 29:20). In Joseph's time, the world would experience seven fat and seven lean years (Genesis 41). God commanded Israel to allow the land to lay fallow each seventh year (Leviticus 25:2-6).
"Samuel said to Jesse, 'Yahweh has not chosen these'" (v. 10b). Jesse has sent all of the likely candidates before Samuel, but the Lord chooses none of them.
1 SAMUEL 16:11-12: ARISE, ANOINT HIM; FOR THIS IS HE
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are these all the children?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep." Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here." 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he."
"Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all your children here?'He said, "There remains yet the youngest (haq·qa·tan), and behold, he is keeping the sheep'" (v. 11a). David is such an unlikely candidate for king, in the mind of his father, that Jesse hasn't even considered bringing him in from the field to pass before Samuel. David is Jesse's youngest son (haq·qa·tan)- the Hebrew word can also mean the smallest (Klein).
▪ The fact that David has been serving as a shepherd points to his future role as a king. In the Bible, kings and other leaders - even God and Jesus - are often compared to shepherds (Numbers 27:17; 2 Samuel 5:2; 1 Kings 22;17; Psalm 23; Jeremiah 12:10; 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2; John 10:1-10).
"Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and get him; for we will not sit down until he comes here'" (v. 11b). Samuel has to prompt Jesse to bring David in from the fields so that he might look at him. Samuel's decision not to sit down until David arrives emphasizes the significance of the occasion. Samuel is an old man. For him to stand for hours while waiting for David is no small matter.
"He sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful face, and goodly to look on" (v. 12a). Given the Lord's earlier instruction, "Don't look on his face, or on the height of his stature," we are surprised to learn that David has beautiful eyes and is handsome. Ruddy could refer to a reddish hue in his hair or complexion - perhaps sun-bleached hair and suntanned skin because of his work in the fields. But Cartledge says that the Israelites would be dark-complected, and ruddy would most likely refer to a person of lighter complexion (Cartledge, 202; see also Baldwin, 122).
"Yahweh said, 'Arise, anoint him; for this is he'" (v. 12). Throughout this passage, it is clear that the Lord does the choosing - not Samuel. The Lord chooses the unlikely candidate - the youngest rather than the eldest - perhaps the smallest - the one deemed most unlikely to succeed by his father. God likes working with seemingly inferior candidates, because people are more likely to understand their success as the result or the Lord's power rather than the individual's power (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
1 SAMUEL 16:13: THEN SAMUEL ANOINTED DAVID
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers" (v. 13a). At the beginning of this chapter, the Lord instructed David to fill his horn with oil for this occasion (16:1). Finally, Samuel has occasion to use it.
▪ Anointing with oil was used for various purposes (healing, burial, expressing grief or joy). Most especially, it was used to designate a person for a significant role. In the Old Testament, prophets were anointed (1 Kings 19:16). Priests were anointed (Exodus 40:13-15). Kings were anointed (1 Samuel 10:1; 16:3, 12-13; 2 Samuel 23:1; 1 Kings 1:39). The New Testament speaks of Jesus as anointed (John 20:31; Acts 5:42; Hebrews 1:9, etc.). His anointing set him apart for his unique role as prophet, priest, and king.
▪ It must have been a significant moment for David's brothers to see the revered prophet anoint their brother. They could not understand the full import of this choice, because David would become a great king like nobody before or since in the history of Israel. Nevertheless, it would be a sobering moment for the brothers - and everyone present.
"and the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on David from that day forward" (v. 13b). This is the first mention of David's name. The spirit of the Lord not only comes upon him, but will remain on him "from that day forward" - permanently. The next verse says, "now the Spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Yahweh troubled him" (16:14).
▪ The anointing leads to the spirit of the Lord empowering David. Soon, we will see the dramatic effects of that power, when little David- too small to wear a warrior's armor - slays the giant, Goliath (chapter 17). The Lord's spirit will also make David a great king.
We should note, however, that this is a private anointing. David will become king later. Saul is still king now - and will be for some time to come.
"So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah" (v. 13b). Having accomplished his mission, the old man, Samuel, returns home. At this point, the story transitions from Samuel to David. We will hear of Samuel only once more (19:18-24) before his death (25:1).
1 Sam. 16:1-13 - Extra Notes & Application
It has been said that winning is not everything; it is the only thing. To the world, winning in life is based largely on appearances: a happy face, positive attitude, quality clothes, and beauty with all of the trappings. If all or most of these things line up, then the person is considered a "winner." If not, then he is dumped on the scrap heap labeled "loser." This has been the world's way of thinking for ages.
But, don't we tend to adopt this same attitude as Christians? Take the qualities mentioned above, put that individual in a good Bible believing church and we assume that he is a winner of a Christian as well. The account of God's choosing and anointing David demonstrates the stark contrast between how men see other men and how God sees them.
In the broad sweep of the book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 16 marks the beginning of the decline of Saul and the rise of David to prominence in Israel. Our passage for today follows Saul's failure as king of Israel. Humanly speaking, Saul had it all: good looks, tall, etc. He looked impressive, but he failed as a spiritual leader. Remember, the king of Israel was to be a spiritual leader as well as a political and military leader. The spiritual dimension is where Saul failed, and this is why the Lord rejected him as king. In 1 Samuel 15:23, Samuel tells Saul that God has rejected him as king. Earlier, in 1 Samuel 13:13-14, God said that He sought for Himself "...a man after His own heart" to replace Saul. That man was David.
I. SAMUEL: GET OVER IT! - 16:1-3
Samuel was grieving over the failure of Saul to the point that God rebuked him. He asked Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?" God had rejected Saul, it is over and done with, and Samuel needs to move on.
APPLICATION: Sometimes, we can hang on to a person, program or project long after God has rejected it. We need to remember Who is in charge and to Whom we belong. Even someone as godly as Samuel got stuck in the past which caused God to rebuke him and to direct him to move on.
God directed Samuel to go to the family of Jesse because God had selected a king for Himself.
Notice Who is in control...
• God rejected Saul.
• God directed Samuel to fill his horn with oil, to go and to anoint the next king.
• God had already selected a king for Himself.
• God tells Samuel where to find His choice for king.
Samuel was worried about Saul's reaction - in fact, he was concerned that Saul would kill him. God had that covered, too. He was to say that he had come to sacrifice to the Lord and in the process, he was to anoint the one whom the Lord would show him.
Question: Was God asking Samuel to lie? No, there would be a sacrifice, but Saul was not to be told of the anointing of David for three reasons: (1) To protect David and his family from Saul. (2) To give David time to mature and (3) To protect Samuel from Saul.
Eugene Merrill states, "God did not tell Samuel to be deceptive, but rather to combine the anointing with the business of sacrificing."[Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, page 448]
II. THE SELECTION PRINCIPLE - 16:4-7
Samuel "...did what the Lord said..."(v. 4). The first son of Jesse, who Samuel sees is Eliab, and he jumps to the conclusion that this must be the Lord's choice for king. The Lord's instruction in verse 7 tells us that, once again, Samuel made the same mistake that he and the Israelites had made with Saul: looking at outward appearances only.
Verse 7 - The key principle: Man looks at the outward, but God looks at the heart. The criteria: reality vs. appearance. The reality is what a man is inwardly. The heart is the inner man - the mind, affections and the will [Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, page 523]
Psalm 44:21 says, "Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart."
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."
Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the
motives." The heart of a man includes his motives.
APPLICATION: How many political candidates have been elected based solely on their looks or their articulate speech? Many candidates are fluent in saying nothing of any significance, but they sound good and look good on camera. The same is true for our culture in general - we admire beauty or popularity with no substance. In fact, some celebrities are famous for being famous! This same attitude can and does affect the church regarding church leadership. Scripture is clear as to the qualifications for elder and deacon (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) and none of those criteria have anything to do with outward appearance.
Now, let's be careful not to go to the other extreme. God is NOT saying that He always chooses ugly people to be His instruments. Later in this passage, we find out that not only did David have a heart for God but he was also handsome (v. 12).
The Lord uses the attractive and the gifted. He also uses the unattractive and the simple. The key is the heart. Consider these examples:
• The Prophet Amos: He said of himself that he was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet; he was a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.(Amos 7:14). He did not have the pedigree, humanly speaking, of being a prophet but the Lord called him to prophesy.
• The Apostle Peter: a simple fisherman who became a leader in the first-century church and wrote two books of the NT.
• The Apostle Philip: ordinary in every way, but he became Philip, the evangelist - see Acts 8.
• Highly gifted individuals: Daniel, Moses, The Apostle Paul and David.
III. THE SELECTION PROCESS - 16:8-12
Verses 8-10 - Samuel and Jesse ran through all of Jesse's sons and all were rejected except the youngest. Who was he and where was he? Why was he not with the other sons?
Verses 11-12 - It was David, and he was tending sheep! Tending the flock was David's training ground and proving ground. He was proving himself in humble submission to a lowly calling. He was demonstrating faithful service in a menial task. David was not yet ready to be king of Israel. Moses had served as a shepherd for forty years before his rise to leadership as Israel's deliverer. Moses and David attended the same school: "Desert Theological Seminary"!
The point is preparation involving faithfulness and submission. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." (Luke 16:10)
Verse 12 tells us that David's appearance was "ruddy"(NASB). This means that he had red hair which was a distinctive sign of beauty in the ancient near east. So, David was handsome, but that was incidental to the fact that he was God's choice and that God had his heart. He was a success not because of his appearance but because of his heart. God instructed Samuel to anoint David.
IV. THE ANOINTING OF DAVID - 16:13
The oil of anointing was a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon David giving him supernatural ability to serve as king. It meant being set apart, consecrated for God's service. The king of Israel was to be a spiritual leader. Other examples in the OT involved the Spirit coming on various leaders: Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. To avoid confusion, this is not the same as in the NT in which the Holy Spirit indwells someone at their conversion. David was not "getting saved" here. He was already a believer and was receiving a special anointing of the Holy Spirit to serve as king. Consequently, in the OT, the Spirit could be taken from a man. David knew this. In fact, in confessing his sin with Bathsheba, he poured his heart out to the Lord in Psalm 51:11b saying, "do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me." Verse 13 also says that "from that day forward" David was empowered by the Spirit even before he formally took office as the king. Saul had failed as a spiritual leader, and we are told in 1 Samuel 16:14 that the Spirit departed from Saul.
1. The principle of forgetting the past and moving on. Samuel had indulged himself in too much personal grief over Saul's failure. The same can happen to us in our Christian walk. We can get stuck in the past and long for "the good old days." Philippians 3:13-14 says, "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."(NASB)
2. The principle of performance vs. heart. Saul had done some good things, even some "religious" things but his heart did not belong to the Lord. He disobeyed the Lord and was rejected by the Lord. The Lord does not want or need your money, your church attendance or anything else in the way of religious performance. He wants you; all of you all the time!
3. The principle of waiting. Even though David was anointed by Samuel and the Holy Spirit came upon him mightily, he did not officially and publically become king. Saul was still king, and David went back to shepherding. God had his heart; he was God's man, but he still needed time to mature and develop the skills needed for leadership. It would all happen in God's perfect timing. Waiting is one of God's ways to grow our faith, to nurture us and to mature us.
*Keep on trusting and obeying Him - the results in your life just might shock you!
1 Sam. 16:1-13 - Constable Exposition
David's anointing 16:1-13: This time God's choice was not a king for the people according to their desires, but a king for Himself (1 Samuel 16:1) who would put Yahweh first (1 Samuel 13:14; cf. Galatians 4:4-5). Saul would have perceived Samuel's act of anointing another man king as treason (1 Samuel 16:2). He continued to show more concern for his own interests than for the will of God. Evidently Samuel had gained a reputation as an executioner since he had killed Agag (1 Samuel 16:4; cf. 1 Samuel 15:33).
Samuel judged Jesse's sons by their external qualities, just as the Israelites judged Saul acceptable because of those characteristics (1 Samuel 16:6). 1 Samuel 16:7 clarifies how God evaluates people, namely, on the basis of their hearts (affections), not their appearances or abilities (cf. Matthew 3:17; Mark 10:31; 1 Corinthians 1:27). As He had done earlier in Scriptural history, God chose the son that was not the natural choice, showing that He does not bind Himself to what is traditional. It is unusual that Jesse did not have David present for Samuel's inspection since he, too, was one of his sons. Jesse had eight sons (1 Samuel 17:12; cf. 1 Chronicles 2:13-15; 1 Chronicles 27:18). This may suggest that Jesse did not think as highly of David as he did of his other sons (cf. Psalms 27:10, where David wrote of his parents forsaking him). Was David a neglected or even an abused child whom his father viewed more as hired help than as a son?
"It's remarkable, isn't it, how Jesse reveals two very common mistakes parents make. Number one, he didn't have an equal appreciation for all of his children. And number two, he failed to cultivate a mutual self-respect among them. Jesse saw his youngest as nothing more than the one who tended the sheep." [Swindoll, p. 20.]
"The shepherd/flock image is a kind of Leitmotif for David from this point on. . . . The book's last story shows David deeply concerned for the flock [2 Samuel 24:17]."
A leitmotif, literally a leading or guiding theme, is a phrase or image that recurs with and represents a given character, situation, or emotion in a piece of literature or music. David (probably meaning "beloved of the Lord") was physically attractive (1 Samuel 16:12; cf. Isaiah 53:2). Nevertheless, God did not choose him for that reason, but because of God's sovereign election and because of David's heart attitude. God's sovereign election to salvation does not depend on human initiative (Romans 9:16), but His sovereign election to service does (1 Timothy 1:12).
"What does it mean to be a person after God's own heart? Seems to me, it means that you are a person whose life is in harmony with the Lord. What is important to Him is important to you. What burdens Him burdens you. When He says, 'Go to the right,' you go to the right. When He says, 'Stop that in your life,' you stop it. When He says, 'This is wrong and I want you to change,' you come to terms with it because you have a heart for God." [Note: Swindoll, p. 6.]
David and his family were the first after Samuel to learn that he would be the next king, or perhaps that he would become Samuel's successor, like Elisha became to Elijah. [Note: Young, p. 286.] In time, all Israel would learn that David would become the next king as he became the instrument through whom God blessed the nation. David became successful because God's Spirit came on him, remained with him from then on, and empowered him for service (cf. Matthew 3:16-17).
1 Samuel 16:13 records Samuel's departure for his home in Ramah. At this point in the book, very advanced in years, he slides into obscurity as a minor figure who no longer plays an active role in the progress of events. His anointing of David, therefore, was the climax and capstone of his career.
1 Sam. 16:1-13 - Pulpit Commentary - CHOICE OF DAVID AS SUCCESSOR TO SAUL
v. 1: Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, because I have chosen a king for Myself among his sons." The grief of Samuel was prolonged almost to a sinful extent, nor can we wonder at it. We who see Saul's whole career, and know how deeply he fell, are in danger of discrediting his high qualities; but those who were witnesses of his military skill and prowess, and saw him and his heroic son raising the nation from its feebleness and thraldom to might and empire, must have given him an ungrudging admiration. Both David's dirge (2 Sam 1:19-27) and Samuel's long mourning, and the unqualified obedience which he was able so quickly to extort from a high-spirited people unused to being governed, bear decisive testimony to his powers as a ruler and commander in war. But God now warns Samuel to mourn no longer. Saul's rejection has become final, and God's prophet must sacrifice his personal feelings, and prepare to carry out the purpose indicated in 1 Sam 13:14; 1 Sam 15:28. We must not, however, conclude that Samuel's sorrow had only been for Saul personally; there was danger for the whole nation in his conduct. If willfulness and passion gained in him the upper hand, the band of authority would be loosed, and the old feebleness and anarchy would return, and Israel become even more hopelessly a prey to its former troubles. Samuel, therefore, is to go to Bethlehem and anoint there a son of Jesse. As this place lay at some distance from Ramah, and out of the circuit habitually traversed by Samuel as judge, he probably had but a general knowledge of the family. Evidently he had no acquaintance with David (1 Sam 15:11, 1 Sam 15:12); but as Jesse was a man of wealth and importance, his reputation had probably reached the prophet's ears.
v. 2: But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears about it, he will kill me." But the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Saul was actually king, and the anointing of another in his stead would be regarded as an act of open treason, and the stirring up of civil war. This was not indeed intended. The anointing of David was a prophetic indication of the man whom God, in his own way and at his own time, would place upon Saul's throne, without either scheming or action thereto on the part either of Samuel or of David. Its value would chiefly lie in the careful training he would receive from Samuel; but when David was king, it would also greatly strengthen his position; for it would be known that from his boyhood he had been marked out for his high office. Never did man mount a throne with purer hands than David; and if Saul would have permitted it, he would have been a faithful and loyal servant to the last. It was Saul really who thrust the kingdom upon David. As regards Samuel's fears, headstrong as Saul was, he owed too much to the prophet to have put]aim to death; but he would have visited the act upon Jesse and his family with revengeful violence, and Samuel would henceforward have lost all freedom of action, even if he were not cast into prison, or banished from the land. God therefore commands him to take an heifer with him, and say, I am come to sacrifice to Jehovah. The question has been asked, Was there in this any duplicity? In answer we may ask another question: Is it always necessary, or even right, to tell in all cases the whole truth? If so, quarrels and ill-feeling would be multiplied to such an extent that social life would be unendurable. All charitable, well disposed persons suppress much, and keep a guard over their lips, lest they should stir up strife and hatred. Now here there was to be no treason, no inciting to civil war. David, still a child, was to be set apart for a high destiny, possibly without at the time fully knowing what the anointing meant, and certainly with the obligation to take no step whatsoever towards winning the crown that was to descend upon his head. This was his probation, and he bore the trial nobly. And what right would Samuel have had, not merely to compel David to be a traitor, but to place Jesse and his family in a position of danger and difficulty? To have anointed David publicly would have forced Jesse to an open rupture with the king, and he must have sought safety either by fighting for his life, or by breaking up his home, and fleeing into a foreign land. David in course of time had thus to seek an asylum for his parents (1 Sam 22:3, 1 Sam 22:4), but it was through no fault of his own, for he always remained true to his allegiance. Even when David was being hunted for his life, he made no appeal to Samuel's anointing, but it remained, what it was ever intended to be, a secret sign and declaration to him of God's preordained purpose, but of one as to which he was to take no step to bring about its fulfilment. It was a pledge to David, and nothing but misery would have resulted from its being prematurely made known to those who had no right to know it. God wraps up the flower, which is in due time to open and bear fruit, within many a covering; and to rend these open prematurely is to destroy the flower and the fruit that is to spring from it. And so to have anointed David openly, and to have made him understand the meaning of the act, would have been to destroy David and frustrate the Divine purpose.
vv. 3-5: And you shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will let you know what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you." 4 So Samuel did what the LORD told him, and he came to Bethlehem. Then the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?" 5 And he said, "In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. - The word used is zebach, and means a sacrifice followed by a feast, at which all the elders of the town, and with them Jesse and his elder sons, would be present by the prophet's invitation. It is plain that such sacrifices were not unusual, or Saul would have demanded a reason for Samuel's conduct. As the ark remained so long in obscurity at Kirjath-jearim, and the solemn services of the tabernacle were not restored until Saul at some period of his reign removed it to Nob, possibly Samuel may have instituted this practice of occasionally holding sacrifices, now at one place and now at another, to keep alive a sense of religion in the hearts of the people; and probably on such occasions he taught them the great truths of the law, thus combining in his person the offices of prophet and priest. Nevertheless, the elders of the town trembled at his coming. More literally, "went with trembling to meet him." Very probably such visitations often took place because some crime had been committed into which Samuel wished to inquire, or because the people had been negligent in some duty. And though conscious of no such fault, yet at the coming of one of such high rank their minds foreboded evil. He quiets, however, their fears and bids them sanctify themselves; i.e. they were to wash and purify themselves, and abstain from everything unclean, and put on their festal garments. It is added, He sanctified Jesse and his sons, i.e. he took especial care that no legal impurity on their part should stand in the way of the execution of his errand.
vv. 6-10: When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is standing before Him." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass before Samuel. But he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one, either." 9 Next Jesse had Shammah pass by. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one, either." 10 So Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these." - . I.e. to the house of Jesse, apparently in the interval between the sacrifice and the feast. The latter we learn in 1 Sam 16:11 did not take place until after David had been sent for. But many hours would elapse between the sacrifice and the feast, as the victim had to be skinned and prepared for roasting, and finally cooked. This interval was spent in Jesse's house; and when he saw there Eliab, the first born, and observed his tall stature and handsome face, qualities which Samuel had admired in Saul, he said, i.e. in himself, felt sure, that the goodly youth was Jehovah's anointed (see on 1 Sam 2:10, 1 Sam 2:35; 1 Sam 10:1, etc.), but is warned that these external advantages do not necessarily imply real worth of heart; and as Jehovah looketh on the heart, his judgment depends, not on appearances, but on reality. As Eliab is thus rejected, Jesse makes his other sons pass before the prophet. Next Abinadab, who has the same name as a son of Saul (1 Sam 31:2); then Shammah, so called again in 1 Sam 17:13, but Shimeah in 2 Sam 13:3, and Shimma in 1 Chron 2:13, where, however, the Hebrew is exactly the same as in 2 Sam 13:3. After these four other sons follow, of whom one apparently died young, as only seven are recorded in 1 Chron 2:13-15, whereas these with David make eight. To all these seven the Divine voice within Samuel gave no response, and he said unto Jesse, Jehovah hath not chosen these.
vv. 11-12: 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are these all the boys?" And he said, "The youngest is still left, but behold, he is tending the sheep." So Samuel said to Jesse, "Send word and bring him; for we will not take our places at the table until he comes here." 12 So he sent word and brought him in. Now he was reddish, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he." - The word literally is lads, na'arim. The elder sons must have been nearly or quite grown up, but David was probably a mere boy, and as such had not been thought worthy of an invitation, but had been left with the servants keeping the sheep. The prophet now orders him to be summoned, and marks his value in God's sight by saying, We will not sit down till he come hither. The verb literally means, we will not surround, i.e. the table, though at this time the Jews did sit at meals, instead of reclining on couches, as in the days of Amos and our Lord. We gather, moreover, from Samuel's words that the selection of the son that was to be anointed took place while the preparations were being made for the feast. At the prophet's command David is fetched from the flock, which was probably near the house, and on his arrival the prophet sees a ruddy boy, i.e. red-haired, correctly rendered in the Vulgate rufus, the colour loved by all painters of manly beauty, and, from the delicacy of complexion which accompanies it, especially admired in the East, where men are generally dark-haired and sallow-faced. Moreover, he was of a beautiful countenance. The Hebrew says, "with beautiful eyes," and so the Syriac and Septuagint rightly. He was also goodly to look to, i.e. to look at. These last words give the general idea of the beauty of his face and person, while his bright hair and delicate complexion and the beauty of his eyes are specially noticed in the Hebrew.
v. 13: So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel set out and went to Ramah. - . Did he or they understand the meaning of the act? We think not. Certainly Eliab (1 Samuel 17:28) had no idea of any special greatness being in store for his brother. Most probably both Jesse and his sons regarded David as simply selected to be trained in Samuel's schools; and there can be little doubt that he was so trained. Samuel gave unto David that which Saul had not received-long and careful training; and David profited by it, and at Naioth in Ramah perfected his skill, not only in reading and writing, but in poetry and music. Saul and David were both men of extraordinary natural ability; but the one is always shy, awkward, and with all the defects of an uneducated man; while David is altogether the contrary. But Samuel gave his youthful pupil something better than accomplishments-he carefully educated him in the law of God, and led his mind onward to all that was good. It was Samuel's last and crowning work. Prophecy and monarchy were both of his institution, as orderly elements of the Jewish state; he also trained the man who more nearly than any other approached unto the ideal of the theocratic king, and was to Israel the type of their coming Messiah. It was Samuel's wisdom in teaching his young men music which gave David the skill to be the sweet singer of the sanctuary; and we may feel sure also that when David arranged the service of the house of God, and gave priests and Levites their appointed duties (1Ch 23-26.), the model which he set before him was that in which he had so often taken part with Samuel at Ramah. As Eliah, Abinadab, and Shammah were but lads (1 Samuel 16:11), David must have been very young, and many years have elapsed between his anointing and his summons to Saul's presence and combat with Goliath; and they were thus well spent in the prophet's company, whence at, proper intervals he would return to his father's house and resume his ordinary duties. The Spirit of Jehovah came upon David from that day forward. In modern language we should say that David's character grew and developed nobly, both intellectually and morally. With far more ethical truth the Israelites saw in the high qualities which displayed themselves in David's acts and words the presence and working of a Divine Spirit. It was a "breathing of Jehovah" which moved David onward, and fostered in him all that was morally great and good, just as it was "the breath of God" which at the creation moved upon the face of the waters to call this earth into being (Genesis 1:2). Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. His mission was over, and he returned to his ordinary duties; but, doubtless, first he made arrangements that David should in due time follow him thither, that he might be trained for his high office under Samuel's direct influence and control.