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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Samuel 16

Verses 1-23

A Young Man From the Country

1 Samuel 16:18

King Saul wished to engage a court minstrel. There is not a single historical personage before the Christian era of whom we know so much as we do of David. In our passage we meet with him as still but a young man; and there are five distinct things mentioned about him, which you may find it interesting and useful to consider.

I. The Bible is emphatic in telling us that he was a remarkably good-looking young man. A splendid fellow, thoroughly manly in his bearing. There was nothing effeminate about him. The body, no doubt, is but the tabernacle, the shell; but do not despise it; it bears the stamp and image of God.

II. His Pastime. Every sensible man must have some pastime. We cannot always be working. Well, David's pastime was music. He had evidently quite a genius for it. David consecrated this great gift of his to the highest ends, and he found music to be most enjoyable when it was linked with sacred themes. Sacred music is the grandest of all music.

III. His Patriotism. If ever a man loved his country, it was he. His heroic fearlessness of danger was constantly put to the proof. Where his country's interests were at stake, his life was at its service. No mere ambitious self-seeker was David; he was as genuine a patriot as ever lived. A healthy and unselfish public spirit needs to be cultivated. The first and most obvious duty which a man owes to the commonwealth is to see that he is no burden to it. In fact, it is in vigilant industry and sound common sense, employed about a man's daily calling, that he makes his first contribution to the nation's wealth and weal.

IV. His Prudence. The text describes him as 'prudent in matters,' ie. a young man of sound judgment, of sterling common sense. This is a wonderful recommendation to a man, no matter what kind of office he has to fill. Next to piety there is no endowment more valuable than what in England goes by the name of good common sense.

V. His Piety 'the Lord is with him'. This was his noblest recommendation; he carried God with him into all the minutest details of life. No one can intelligently read his sacred songs without seeing that the central spring of his religious life was humble dependence upon the Divine Deliverer who was one day to suffer and die for the sins of men.

J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 18.

The Character of David

1 Samuel 16:18

How manifold are the ways of the Spirit, how various the graces which He imparts; what depth and width is there in that moral truth and virtue for which we are created! Contrast one with another the Scripture saints; how different are they, yet how alike! how fitted for their respective circumstances, yet how unearthly, how settled and composed in the faith and fear of God! As in the Services, so in the patterns of the Church, God has met all our needs, all our frames of mind. 'Is any afflicted? let him pray; is any merry? let him sing Psalms.' Is any in joy or in sorrow? there are saints at hand to encourage and guide him. There is Abraham for nobles, Job for men of wealth and merchandise, Moses for patriots, Samuel for rulers, Elijah for reformers, Joseph for those who rise into distinction; there is Daniel for the forlorn, Jeremiah for the persecuted, Hannah for the downcast, Ruth for the friendless, the Shunammite for the matron, Caleb for the soldier, Boaz for the farmer, Mephibosheth for the subject; but none is vouchsafed to us in more varied lights, and with more abundant and more affecting lessons, whether in his history or in his writings, than he whose eulogy is contained in the words of the text, as cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and prudent in matters, and comely in person, and favoured by Almighty God.

J. H. Newman.

Davids Music and Its Influence on Saul

1 Samuel 16:23

Dr. Blaikie says: 'Of the influence of music in remedying disorders of the nerves there is no want of evidence. "Bochart has collected many passages from profane writers which speak of the medicinal effects of music on the mind and body, especially as appeasing anger and soothing and pacifying a troubled spirit" ( Speaker's Commentary ). A whole book was written on the subject by Caspar Loescherus, Professor of Divinity at Wittenberg (a.d. 1688), Kitto and other writers have added more recent instances. It is said of Charles IX of France that after the massacre of St. Bartholomew his sleep was disturbed by nightly horrors, and he could only be composed to rest by a symphony of singing boys. Philip V of Spain, being seized with deep dejection of mind that unfitted him for all public duties, a celebrated musician was invited to surprise the king by giving a concert in the neighbouring apartment to his majesty's with the effect that the king roused himself from his lethargy and resumed his duties.'

David's Harp

1 Samuel 16:23

In truth, the great Elements we know of are no mean comforters: the open Sky sits upon our senses like a sapphire crown the Air is our robe of State the Earth is our throne; and the Sea a mighty minstrel playing before it able, like David's harp, to make such a one as you forget almost the tempest cares of life.

Keats (to Jane Reynolds, 1817).

References. XVII. 36. S. Gregory, How to Steer a Ship, p. 56. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No. 1253. XVII. 37. E. A. Askew, Sermons Preached in Greystoke Church. J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays After Trinity, part i. p. 105. XVII. 42. W. Brock, Midsummer Morning Sermons, p. 173. XVII. 47. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 61. XVII. 48. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 192. XVII. R. Lorimer, Bible Studies in Life and Truth, p. 211. W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 26. XVII. 50. R. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. ii. p. 254. XVII. 55. E. A. Askew, Sermons Preached in Greystoke Church, p. 189.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-samuel-16.html. 1910.