Wednesday, December 5, 2012

XCVI - I Samuel 16 - David is Introduced

First Samuel chapter 15 contains the account of Saul's being rejected as king of Israel because of his disobedience to God.  The chapter ended abruptly as it said that Samuel did not go to see Saul ever again.  This brings us to chapter 16, verse 1.  We see somewhat into the mind of Samuel as to his relationshi[p with Saul as God asks Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul. since I have rejected him as king over Israel?"  This tells me that in the short time that Samuel knew Saul personally, he had become fond of him.  Also, it might have saddened Samuel that so much hope and so much work had gone into Saul's kingship, but now it was all for naught.   At any rate, God was telling Samuel that he had mourned long enough and it was time to tend to the next order of business, which was to anoint Saul's replacement, whom God had already chosen.  God was sending Samuel to Bethlehem.  Samuel was afraid and told God that if Saul hears about him going to anoint another king, that Saul would kill him.  {It's easy to understand Samuel's reluctance to become involved in rejecting Saul.  He knew Saul.  He must have reasoned that if Saul was cruel enough to condemn his own son to death, he easily could be provoked to condemn other people, particularly the prophet who had declared him unworthy to be king.}  God told Samuel in vs 3 to take a sacrificial animal with him as he went to Bethlehem for a worship service.  As mentioned earlier, Samuel was a revered leader in Israel, so when the elders of the city saw Samuel coming they feared that he was to pronounce judgement on them for something.  But Samuel assured them he had come in peace.  God had instructed him to hold a worship service and be sure to invite the house of Jesse, one of Bethelem's prominent citizens.  Jesse was the grandson of Ruth the Moabitess.  He lived in Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, just a few miles south of Jerusalem.

When the house of Jesse presented themselves to Samuel, he looked upon the eldest son Eliab, whose height and countenance was impressive.  But a familiar verse 7 has God correcting Samuel's measuring standards.  He told Samuel that He does not look at what people look at, but rather He looks at the heart.  I could go on and on about this verse.  This is still true today.  Not only does God look at the heart of a person, but He has been trying to teach us this for centuries.  But we continue to be fooled by outward appearances.  After God had told Samuel this, Jesse presented his second son Abinadab, then Shammah, then the next and the next, totaling seven sons, all of whom God told Samuel to reject.  Frustrated, Samuel asked Jesse (vs 11) if he had any more sons.  "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered.  "He is tending the sheep."  Jesse sent for his youngest, David.  When David arrived, God told Samuel, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one."  Look at the 13th verse.  ....and from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.  {This is just the beginning of our study of this boy who would grow up to be one of the most beloved characters in the Bible.  Even to this day in Israel, David's name is held in equal esteem to even Moses, Abraham, and the other great patriarchs.}

Imediately after the Scripture says the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, it says in verse 14 that the Spirit of the Lord depared from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. {Let's take moment to address this language that seems strange to us.  The phrase "an evil spirit from the Lord" can be troubling.  Allow me to explain it as it has been explained to me:  At this juncture in Israel's History, the Israelites had no formalized theology of evil as reflected later in their development.  At this point, everything - good and evil - was attributed to the Lord, especially if it was something they could not understand.  In time, the nation came to undersand that there was indeed an adversary (the devil and his demons), distinct from God, that  affected people adversely and powerfully.  Nowhere in the Scripture addresses this up to this point.  But it will as we continue our study.}  Back to Saul:  Saul became so despondent that when something displeased him, he was thrown into an uncontrollable rage.  Saul's servants were desparate to help their king, who was so obviously tormented.  Evidently, they had seen individuals who were troubled like Saul become tranquil when they heard music, so they recommended that a musician be brought in Saul agreed to it.  {Saul was as desparate as his servants.  He was willing to try anything that might help with this affliction that neither he nor anyone else understood.}  In verse 18 one of the servants tells of the young son of Jesse.  He spoke highly of David in every way, even saying that "And the Lord is with him".  Vss 21--> tells how David entered the king's service (As far as God is concerned, David is actually the king now, but nobody besides Samuel is aware of this yet.)  The Scripture goes on to say that Saul became very fond of David, and actually made him an "armor-bearer", which was a very highly trusted position, especially for someone so young as David.  So much did Saul like David that he sent word to Jesse that David was to remain in the king's service, and was no longer to go home to help with the sheep.  {Remember what Samuel warned that a king would do with Israel's sons?}  This chapter 16 ends with telling how David's music did in fact help soothe Saul in his times of rage and torment.

Next post - Chapter 17  -  David and Goliath

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