God calls David
- Main Text: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 51:10-14
- Accompanying text: John 7:24
In 1 Samuel 15 “God is sorry, not because he has done anything wrong, but because Saul has. God’s ‘repentance’ marks the end of his elective dealings with Israel through Saul. At the same time God does not take back his decision to let Israel have a king (1 Samuel 8:7,9,22). In 1 15:28 Saul is told that Israel’s kingdom will not be suspended but given to another, a better king — David” .
“Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to become king in Saul’s place”, and “he thought God had chosen Eliab. Like Saul, who was ‘a head taller than any of the others’ (1 Samuel 9:2), Eliab was tall. But just as height had not made Saul a good king, height didn’t make Eliab qualified to rule. God wasn’t impressed by Eliab’s stature. God looked at the sons of Jesse differently: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him [Eliab]. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)” .
Samuel was emotional about Saul’s removal from kingship. “Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:35). God tells Samuel to put it all behind him and to get on with the anointing of next king. Samuel is afraid lest Saul learns of this and tries to kill him. This fits in with what we learn later of Saul’s actions — see 2 Samuel 22:16-18 where Saul authorises a vengeful killing spree in support of his own cause. But God provides Samuel with a legitimate reason to be in the area — “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice” (1 Samuel 16:2-3). When Samuel arrives in in Bethlehem, the burial place of Rachel (Genesis 48:7), the town elders are afraid with good reason for Samuel would go on a yearly circuit around Israel to judge the people and sort out local problems (7:16).
After David is anointed by Samuel it’s noted that “a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented” Saul (16:14) and that Saul’s servants recommended David to him as someone who could play calming music for him whenever the melancholy would grip him. This idea, that every visitation or major event, whether good or bad, was common in Hebrew thought. Another illustration of this is found in Amos 3:6: “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?”
Thoughts re application today
Sometimes Christians may be confused by the practice of anointing and the activity of the Holy Spirit in passages such as 1 Samuel 16. Note the comments from Joseph Tkach: “In Scripture, the word anoint typically is used to refer to a way of confirming a special work that God is doing in or through a particular person. People are anointed for healing, in preparation for burial, and when being consecrated (commissioned) as a king, priest or prophet. When a priest or prophet would anoint someone to commission them for leadership, a transfer of authority (and thus power) to the one being anointed is sometimes noted. But it’s important to note that the one performing the anointing was not in control of that power—the anointing was not the equivalent of a dying king passing their rule on to a successor. Rather, the person who was anointing the king, priest or prophet was setting them aside in a public way to confirm that God truly had called that person into a particular leadership responsibility. For example, when the prophet Samuel anointed David, he was commissioning him as king, not transferring the Holy Spirit to David. In Psalm 139:7-12, David shows that God is present everywhere (he is omnipresent). This means that the Spirit is not some sort of force under our control that we can transfer from one person to another through anointing. Moreover, Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is not a “force” but a “person”—he speaks (Acts 13:2), is grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). By remembering that the Spirit is an omnipresent, divine person, we guard against false teaching, including the misuse of the word anointing” .
When it comes to outward appearance Isaiah 53:2-3 tells us that the future Messiah would not stand out in a crowd like the good-looking David: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him”. Also, it appears that some of the Corinthians looked down on the apostle Paul because Paul was not impressive in appearance (see 2 Corinthians 10). In John 7:24 Jesus states, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement”.
From 1 Samuel 16 to the end of 2 Samuel the writer’s interest centres mainly on the life of David. We can learn many lessons from David’s life. As Paul pointed out, in referring to the rich tapestry that we have in the stories of Old Testament characters, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV).
- 2 Corinthians 10:7-18
- Psalm 147:10-11
Footnotes and references
- Eric Peels, Shadow Sides: God in the Old Testament, published by Paternoster Press, UK, 2003:62.