God’s Man

I Samuel 16

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
September 2020

We are beginning a study of one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  We begin a study of David. He is mentioned more than Moses.  He is mentioned more than any other person in Scripture, apart from Jesus.  He is mentioned about a thousand times in the Bible.  He is mentioned more than Abraham.  He is mentioned more than Moses.

David is one of the greatest men in the Bible.  He is the only one in the Bible who is called “a man after God’s own heart.”  No other man is given that title.  No other woman is given that title.  It is not said of Moses or Abraham.  It is not said of Isaiah.  It is only said of David.

The Bible says this, not once but twice.  It says it once in the OT (I Samuel 13:14) and once in the NT (Acts 13:22).  If God says this about David, it must be true, because God does not lie.  Apparently, you don’t have to be perfect to be a man or woman after God’s heart, because David had some flaws. 

If you want to read about David, you can find him primarily in two books of mthe Bible: I & II Samuel.  The second half of I Samuel deals with the RISE of King David (I Samuel 16-31).  It gives us his rise to power.  The Book of II Samuel deals with the REIGN of King David.

II Samuel can be divided into three parts: David’s TRIUMPHS (II Samuel 1-10), David’s TRANSGRESSIONS, as he commits adultery and murder (II Samuel 11) and David’s TROUBLES (II Samuel 12-24).

David lived a thousand years before Jesus.  He was from the Tribe of Judah.  He lived in the small town of Bethlehem and he was the ancestor of the Messiah. Jesus called himself “the son of David.”

David became Israel’s greatest king but when we see him in I Samuel 16, he is not a great king.  He is not famous.  He is not popular.  He is not respected.  In fact, he is despised by his older brothers.

David is just a teenage country shepherd boy in this chapter.  He is just a child and he is a child in a large family.  He had seven older brothers and he is the baby of the family.  

Firstborn kids are not taken seriously.  They are often not treated with respect.  No matter how old they are, they are always just the baby of the family (I Samuel 17:14).  His older brothers hated and despised him. 

In I Samuel 16,a thousand years before the time of Christ, God sends Samuel on a secret mission to the small village of Bethlehem.  Samuel does one of the most important things in his career.  He selects the next king of Israel.  He anoints David as king.

In the last chapter, the old king being rejected.  In this chapter, a new king being selected.  David is chosen to be the next king.  He is empowered by God.  The Holy Spirit comes on him powerfully and God gives him a promotion.  David begins his training for the job. 

Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank” (NIV).  That’s what happens to David.  He begins to work for King Saul in this chapter.  He begins apprenticing as king.

We are going to see three things in this chapter: David’s ANOINTING, Saul’s ATTACK and David’s ASSIGNMENT. 

David’s Anointing

Let’s look at the first part of the chapter.  The chapter begins with David’s anointing. God tells Samuel to anoint someone as king.  Why?  Thery already had a king.  God rejected their king.  We saw that in the last chapter and we also saw Samuel’s reaciton.

He could have gloated.  Saul took over his job.  He was hurt when the people said that they did not want him.  They wanted a king.  He could have been celebrating.  He could have said, “Serves your right.  I told you so.  You should have stuck with me as you leader.” 

Instead, the text says that he had three responses: Anger (I Samuel 15:11).  Sadness.  He mourned for Saul (I Samuel 15:34).  Prayer.  We are told that Samuel prayed all night for Saul (I Samuel 15:11) and he mourned for Saul (I Samuel 15:34).  In fact, when we get to I Samuel 16, he is still mourning.

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.” (I Samuel 16:1 NIV)

There is a time for mourning when bad things happen but there is also a time to stop mourning.  God says something very interesting to Saul.  He says, “Stop morning.”  There is “a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). 

There is also a time to stop mourning.   God says, “Stop mourning.  Fill your horn with oil and go anoint the next king.  Anoint Saul’s replacement.”  Would God ever say something like that to us?  You have a problem.  Get up and go do something about it. 

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” (I Samuel 16:2 NIV).  If Samuel anoints another king, while Saul was still king, and if Saul hears about it, he could be killed, because it would be considered treason. 

Samuel lived in Ramah in the north.  Bethlehem is ten miles away in the south and Saul lived between the two cities.  In order for Samuel to get to Bethlehem, he would have to go through Gibeah.  Samuel said, “I can’t do this.  It is too dangerous.”  God told Samuel to face his fears and to trust him.  Sometimes, we have to do the same thing.

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Did God Tell Samuel to Lie

What is God saying here? Is God telling Samuel to lie? Is God encouraging deception? No. Withholding information is not the same thing as misinformation. Concealment is not the same thing as deception. You can tell the truth without telling the whole truth. Not telling everything” is NOT the same as lying.

Missionaries who work in countries where Christianity is illegal may tell people they are there for another reason (e.g., business, teaching) and that is not wrong if that is what they are doing. Samuel didn’t lie.

He did perform a sacrifice. He told the truth. Everything Samuel said was true. If he was asked, “Do you have any other purpose in coming? And he said “No,” that would have involved deception. It would have been an outright lie.[1]  

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.”

God tells Samuel to anoint the next king.  He does NOT tell him who he is, but He narrowed it down for him.  God told him where the king lived (Bethlehem).  He told him which family he came from (the family of Jesse).  

Samuel knew the city and house he lived in, but Jesse had many sons.  He now knows that one of Jesse’s sons will be anointed as king, but he doesn’t know which one yet.  God did not reveal it to him, so he pays Jesse a visit. 

Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Jesse had eight sons.  David had seven brothers.  The Bible gives us the names of six of them.  One might have died early, and his name is not recorded.  We are told the names of three of David’s brothers in this chapter (Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah).  We are given the names of three other brothers of David in I Chronicles 2:14-15 (Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem).  He Bible also records the names of two of his sisters[2] but this chapter is about his brothers.

A Cinderella Story

I Samuel 16 is a take on the Cinderella story. It is the biblical Cinderella story. The brothers know that Samuel is going to anoint one of them to be king, so they stand up in a line for this coronation. There is a line up almost like a beauty pageant. Whoever wins the line-up, wins the lottery.

David was not allowed to be in the line-up. He was deliberately kept out. He was deliberately excluded by his own family. Cinderella could not go to the ball because her stepmother gave her more work to do.

David was not invited to the feast because he had to take care of the sheep. He had to stay home. You say, this can’t be a Cinderella story unless it is a love story. Cinderella falls in love. Come back next week. David kills the giant and gets the girl.

Picture the scene.  Samuel shows up unexpectedly at the small town of Bethlehem to anoint the next king.  He comes to Jesse’s house.  Jesse was so excited to find out that one of his own sons would one day become king.  Jesse’s sons line up for Samuel.  In that culture, the oldest would always go first.  They were considered the most important, because of primogeniture.  The one in the back of the line thought that he does not stand a chance because he is last. 

One by one, Samuel looks at each of them and rejects them all.  The first one steps forward.  He says, “No.  That is not the one.  Next person.”  Finally, he comes to the last son in the line and the man thought that he won the lottery (because there is no one else behind him).  Samuel says no to him as well.  That is seven rejections.

At this point. Samuel has a problem.  There is a disconnect somewhere.  Samuel is beginning to wonder if he heard God correctly.  God sent him to Jesse’s house to anoint the king. God said He was going to choose one of the sons.  All of the sons went before him and none of them were chosen, so he asks Jesse, “Do you have any more kids I don’t know about?  Is this all of them?” 

Jesse says, “No.  It is not all of them.  There is one more”.  “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” “Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” (I Samuel 16:11 NIV)

They go looking for him, find him and bring him back.  David walks in the door, Samuel sees him and instantly knows that this is the one.  Now, David woke up that morning and nothing seemed different about that day.  He went out and took care of the sheep that morning like he always did.  

Now, while he is working, someone rushes out to find him and tells him, “The Prophet Samuel is at your house and is asking to see you right now.”  David says, “What for?  Why does he want to see me?  Did I do something wrong?”  David walks in the door and gets the shock of his life.  He finds that he is going to be the next King of Israel. 

So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one. So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers” (I Samuel 16:12-13 NIV).

Once he is anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel, notice what happened.  So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. (I Samuel 16:13 NIV).  The Spirit did not come on David before he was anointed.

We want the same thing happening to us.  We want God’s Spirit coming on us POWERFULLY.  You can be saved but not filled with the Holy Spirit.  Many Christians saved but God is not doing anything in their life.  They are not filled with the Spirit.  They do not have any power.  You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (Acts 1:8 NIV)

Lessons from David’s Anointing

What does this say to us today? What are the personal applications or lessons?

1) God is sovereign over human events, but he uses people to accomplish His will.

God is sovereign.  He is the one who is in charge.  He has the right to reject Saul as king and He has the right to pick a new king and He has the right to pick anyone he wants to pick but He uses people to do it.  He used the Prophet Samuel.

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. (Daniel 2:21 NIV).

For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another (Psalm 75:6-7 NIV)

2) We judge people one way.  God judges them a completely different way.

This is interesting.  David was handpicked by God to be the next king but the one he picked was not the one that anyone else would have picked.  David’s dad Jesse would have never picked him.  His brothers would never have pick him. Even Samuel would not have picked him.  Samuel thought the first guy looked good.  Eliab walked by Samuel and he was impressed with him.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:6-7 NIV)

God picked someone that no one else would pick.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. 

He is NOT pick someone who looked like a king. David did not look like kingly material.  He just looked like a poor country shepherd boy.  He pickled someone who just came in from the field working with animals. 

He did not have time to take a bath or change his clothes.  He probably smelled to high heavens.  God was not looking on the outside.  He was looking on the inside.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  We make snap judgments about people based on appearances and write them off sometimes because of how they look.  God does not do that.

He did NOT pick a politician.  He picked someone who had absolutely no experience in politics.

He did NOT pick someone famous.  He picked someone who was obscure.  He picked a complete nobody.  He was so obscure that he was not even on the ballot to be king.  He wasn’t a consideration. 

He did NOT pick an adult.  He picked a child.  This chapter shows how God can use young people.  He used Samuel (the boy prophet).  Now he uses David.  God bypassed all of the older brothers and went straight to a child and anoints him. 

The one who Samuel anointed was not even a man.  He was a teenager (probably somewhere between ten and fifteen years old).  You say, “Well that makes no sense.  He is too young to be king.”  That is true but he does not start ruling yet.  He will not be crowned for another fifteen years or so. 

Saul’s Attack

Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.  15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. (I Samuel 16:14-15 NIV)

Two things happened here.  The Holy Spirit left Saul and an evil spirit entered Saul

Today, we would say that Saul was bipolar or suffered from clinical depression, but Saul did not have a disease.  He had some demons.  His problem was not that he struggled with depression.  His problems were not psychiatric.  They were not mental or emotional.  They were spiritual.  They were caused by an evil spirit

In fact, this was an evil spirit FROM GOD.  We are told that THREE TIMES in this chapter (I Samuel 16:14, 15, 16).  That seems a little strange.

The Bible does NOT say a harmful spirit from Satan tormented Saul. It says evil spirit from God tormented him.  How is that possible? We are told in churches that God doesn’t do this today. It would go agaist His character.  God is not the author of evil.

Does evil come from God?   God does not CAUSE evil, but He does PERMIT it.  He sovereignly allows it. He is even sovereign over demons.  Even demons have to get permission to do things.  We know that from I Kings 22 and Job 1-2.

Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.” (I Samuel 16:16-18 NIV)

David’s Assignment

We are told that David played the lyre.  The lyre was like the harp.  It was the guitar of the that day.  We find out that David was not only a shepherd. He was a musician and got a reputation for playing the lyre. 

David gets two jobs in this chapter.  His job at home was to take care of the sheep but when Saul finds out about him, he gives him two jobs.  He becomes Saul’s armor bearer and he became Saul’s court musician.  He did not get the job because he applied for it.  He got it through recommendation.  People heard about him.  He had a good reputation and was recommended for the job.

Saul had a problem.  When the Holy Spirit left him, it left an opportunity for an evil spirit to harass him.[3]  Everyone around him could tell he had a problem.  They could tell that the way Saul was acting was not normal and they thought that music might help calm him down, so they brought in David as the minister of music in the palace.  David becomes the first music therapist. 

Was this the answer to Saul’s problems?  No.  It helped with some of the symptoms but didn’t solve the problems, just like some doctors that do not solve your medical condition but just treat the symptoms.  Harp music was not a cure to his problem.  Saul had a sin problem.  He had a spiritual problem, but it did relieve some of the symptoms.[4] 

Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. (I Samuel 16:23 NIV).

What is the lesson for today?  This shows the power of music.  It shows the power of good music.  It is therapeutic.  Harp music could help Saul and he was not even a believer.

Music soothes the savage breast, as the poet says.  David played nice soothing music (not rap music, heavy metal or screamo music) and this soothing music was able to soften a hard heart. 

This shows the value of listening to good Christian music today.  That is why it is always good to listen to Spirit-filled music.  It lifts up your spirits.


[1] https://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/1_Samuel_16.1ff.php

[2] Zeruiah and Abigail, according to I Chronicles 2:16.

[3] He was probably not possessed but influenced by the evil spirit.  The Hebrew text says that it came upon Saul but never says it went inside him (cf. Leon Wood, The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, 129-138, which can be found online at https://rediscoveringthebible.com/WoodSaulandEvilSpirits.pdf).  Harp music is not the solution to demon possession.  It takes more than soothing music to cast out a demon.

[4] John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor – Joshua to 2 Samuel (Wordsearch).

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