First Samuel 16 Commentary
When the LORD speaks to Samuel about the next king, you sense in the tone that Samuel was deeply affected by Saul’s downfall. It was a father’s sorrow but the LORD doesn’t want us to dwell in disappointments. The all-knowing God had been raising David for this very purpose. Samuel is commanded to anoint the shepherd boy as Israel’s next king. But there is a problem.
The LORD understands Samuel’s fears and provides a way out – the softer side of divinity.
This chapter is highlighted by the famous statement: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In the process of emphasizing salvation as the function of grace, we end up with faith without works. It is a shame that we often ignore the fact that the LORD does scan through communities and families looking for suitable hearts. David is a suitable heart. One by one the elder brothers pass by and fail the test.
Shouldn’t we be looking at our hearts more than anything? Shouldn’t cleanliness of the heart be of uttermost importance to every saint? Won’t this be the right time to abandon the thought that the LORD uses probability to randomly select His tools? Shouldn’t we be flooding heaven’s mailbox with requests to have our hearts worked on?
The chapter gives us two parallel reports. In the first instance, the Spirit of the LORD comes powerfully upon David. In the second instance, the Spirit of the LORD departs from Saul. The consequence on David is that he grows into a brave warrior and a worshipper. Since the red carpet wasn’t laid for David immediately, David must have gone back to tending his sheep. It’s under this anointing that he killed both the lion and the bear on two different occasions. Remember and contrast the effect of the anointing upon both Samson and David. It’s under this anointing that David writes many beautiful psalms to His God.
The saint under the anointing should be writing and singing songs of praise to the Creator God. The Lion and Bear battles are symbolic of our battles with principalities and authorities in the heavenly realms.
There wasn’t such blessing power for Saul. The principalities descended on him. The evil spirits tormented him so much that the palace became concerned. And who should solve this problem other than David, the anointed?
“An evil spirit from God” statement may catch our attention. Israel had only one workspace and it was for God, their God only. His presence brought good. His absence brought evil. But today we understand more. By looking further into the scriptures, we have details that easily help us understand what may possibly occupy the absence of the LORD.
The chapter closes with David at the palace conducting ‘deliverance sessions’.
What catches our attention here is how the LORD is orchestrating events. Hannah’s pain in childbearing led her to surrender a Samuel that she would have otherwise kept and cherished. That is how the great prophet Samuel entered the public service at the national level. About the same time, another young man named Obed is born to Boaz and Naomi in Bethlehem. He would become the grandfather of King David. The saint does well to appreciate the fact that the LORD is at work in time and space. Indeed, His ways are not our ways. Simply awesome!
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