1 Samuel 16:1–13 comment (0)
October 9, 2008
By Doug Wilson
Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1–13
Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
EMBRACE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE
1 Samuel 16:1–13
The most attractive candidate for leadership is not always the best individual for the job. Likewise the least conspicuous person might be just exactly the one whom God has prepared to lead. Such was the case with Saul and David. Saul was a great figurehead, a giant of a man who fulfilled Israel’s desire for a king. Samuel was responsible for identifying God’s man to succeed Saul. David’s older brothers were all possible replacements, but God had only one man in mind. Until he embraced God’s perspective, Samuel was unable to see His direction for the nation.
As we have already discovered, Saul was both handsome and tall with a nation literally looking up to him for leadership. He was a perfect symbol of everything the people wanted in a king. Unfortunately they looked at his stature and status rather than the content of his character. From God’s perspective, character matters.
By contrast, David seemed an unlikely choice to rule a nation. He was smaller and less appealing than the huge king. God knew something neither the prophet Samuel nor David’s father, Jesse, knew: Within this little man was a heart for God that would allow him to defeat physical and personal giants in the future. David would not apologize for his commitment to the God of Israel.
Take Steps to Move on (1)
God gave specific instructions to Samuel. He was to take his horn of oil to a specific town, visit a specific home and anoint a specific man. Bethlehem was his destination, Jesse was the man God appointed him to see and young David was the chosen one to receive the anointing as Saul’s successor. Sometimes Christians find it difficult to move on from the status quo, even when God gives directions to do so. We choose to be comfortable and stagnant, growing accustomed to how God used to work rather than walking with Him and seeing fresh movements from Him. We must listen to what God says and make the choice to step out in faith and obedience.
Accept New Directions (2–5)
As believers, we often seek comfort in avoiding conflict, remaining silent and hoping God will find another way to accomplish His purposes. This was the case even with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as He asked the Father if there was another way to complete the plan of redemption. Yet in this, Jesus taught us to yield to the Father’s will.
Samuel was instructed to take oil to Bethlehem in order to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king in Saul’s place. The prophet responded immediately by balking, explaining Saul would certainly kill him. Evidently Saul kept a watchful eye on Samuel’s whereabouts since he declared that another king would be chosen. God instructed Samuel to take a cow and make a sacrificial offering in Bethlehem. When the sacrifice was offered, Jesse and his sons were invited to attend the proceedings. One of them would be anointed as king.
Prioritize According to God’s Plan (6–10)
The prophet Isaiah wrote that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9). Even the prophet Samuel needed to learn that “man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (7b). When Samuel saw Jesse’s oldest son, he immediately assumed he was God’s replacement for Saul. Eliab had looks and height in a way reminiscent of Saul, but God rejected him as king. Through the process of elimination, Samuel soon discovered that none of the sons attending the sacrifice were chosen. God had a plan that no one else knew.
Complete Your Tasks (11–13)
God’s timing is perfect. Samuel knew God had a plan, and he was not about to treat the sacrifice as merely a religious ritual. He had a task to complete, and no one would eat until he had identified God’s choice for the kingdom. As soon as the prophet saw David approaching, God prompted him to anoint the young man as king.
When God gives instructions, He expects us to take our tasks seriously and accomplish His will. We must rely on the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and carry out the responsibilities He gives to us.