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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 16

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-13

First Samuel - Chapter 16

David Anointed, vs. 1-13

An indeterminate time succeeded Samuel’s parting from Saul,

during which the prophet continued to mourn for the king’s failure. Eventually the Lord came to Samuel with a rebuke for his continued mourning, reminding him of the need to anoint a new king for the nation. Samuel’s continued mourning was manifest disapproval of the Lord’s rejection of Saul. Samuel should have been content, knowing that the

Lord had rejected him. He is now told to take his horn of anointing oil and set forth to anoint a king whom the Lord had provided for himself. This king would be according to the Lord’s specifications rather than those of the people of Israel. He would be taken from the sons of Jesse, a prominent man of Bethlehem, in the tribe of Judah.

The lineage of David went back through Boaz and Ruth, Salmon and Rahab, to Perez, the son of the incestuous union of Judah and his daughter-in-law (Ruth 4:17-22; Matthew 1:5; Genesis 38:12 ff), and of course they were all in the ancestry of Christ. The law provided that descendants of the illegitimate should not enter the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation (De 23:2). David was the tenth beginning from Perez, which indicates that God’s readiness for a king over his people was not until the generation of David (Genesis 49:10).

It will soon appear that Saul was becoming mentally deranged because of his rejection. There is intimation here that it is already known and feared. Saul was fully capable of murdering the prophet Samuel if he should learn of his mission to Bethlehem. Furthermore it is seen that the people of Bethlehem greatly feared at the coming of Samuel; perhaps they were aware of Saul’s antagonism toward the old prophet. Samuel bespoke this fear to the Lord. He was told to take a heifer and call a sacrifice and feast in the town. .

The people of Bethlehem seem to have been calmed by Samuel’s explanation of his sudden, unannounced arrival. Nothing is told of the feast except that Jesse and his sons were guests there. The choice of the heir of Saul seems not to have been public. In fact, had it been known, it would doubtless have brought the raging vengeance of Saul upon Jesse’s family. The description of the choosing indicates it was carried out privately.

As soon as Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s oldest, he felt that the new king was found. He resembled Saul in his stature and good looks, and in his soldierly carriage. Samuel was still thinking like the Israelites and not seeing through God’s eyes. But the Lord quickly informed Samuel Eliab is not the man. Man sees only the outside, which may look quite good, while the Lord looks into the heart, which may be black with sin. Abinadab and Shammah, numbers two and three, were also speedily rejected, as were numbers four, five, six, and seven as well. Perhaps Jesse was thinking that Samuel had his directions mixed up.

But Samuel inquired and found that the youngest son was still out with the sheep and had evidently not even been considered in the selection. Samuel informed Jesse that he must send for David, for they would not sit down to the feast until he arrived in their presence. As soon as David appeared the Lord told Samuel to rise up and anoint him, for he was indeed God’s choice.

David was probably about seventeen years of age. He had the ruddy glow of a lad of the outdoors. He was handsome, too, though not a strong soldier type like his older brothers, for he was still somewhat immature. The Lord’s Spirit possessed David from that day in a special manner, never to depart from him as He had from Saul, for there was an evident difference in the condition of the two hearts. Samuel returned to his home in Ramah.

Verses 14-23

King’s Musician, vs. 14-23

In contrast to David the Spirit of the Lord left Saul and there came instead an evil spirit. The Scriptures say "an evil spirit from the Lord," which simply means that with the Spirit of God no longer present to prevent it the evil spirit was permitted to possess him. It is not as though the Lord sent the evil spirit, but rather that He permitted it to possess him because he had rejected the Lord. This evil spirit so troubled Saul that it led to dementia, making the servants anxious for his safety, and doubtless for their own as well.

Saul’s counselors advised Saul that he should seek an accomplished musician to play music to soothe his troubled mind and counteract the influence of the spirit demon. When Saul thought on the suggestion he gave his servants permission to seek out a cunning musician to play for him. At this, one of the servants recommended the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, David himself. He was recommended very highly by this one, who must have been very closely acquainted with Jesse’s family. Thus God is moving to get David in a place of training for the future.

Note the qualifications listed to recommend David: a) he was a talented musician; b) he was valiant, or courteous and pleasant; c) he was called a man of war, though still a youth, implying his bravery; d) he was prudent, or had a good head for reasoning; e) he was comely, or handsome; f) and best of all, he had the Lord with him, meaning that he trusted the Lord. In the youth David is one of the finest recom­mendations in the Bible for the young generation in every age.

This seemingly highly qualified young man interested King Saul, so he sent request to Jesse to send his shepherd son, David, to him. Jesse could hardly have refused the request of the king, and he may have had more than a little anxiety about sending David. Jesse may have feared that Saul had heard of David’s private anointing and perhaps seeking to get rid of him. However, he must comply with good grace, so he sent a present to Saul such as might have been expected of a man of Jesse’s modest means. It consisted of a donkey load of bread, a bottle of wine, and a kid of the goats.

Saul was very pleased with David. The beautiful music he made on the harp soothed the troubled king, and he felt much better. Soon Saul came to love David as his son and honored him by making him the king’s armorbearer. He sent back to Jesse requesting permission to keep David in his palace. David’s playing on the harp refreshed and relieved Saul of the demon influence which had seized him after Samuel’s pronouncement of his loss of the kingdom.

Some lessons: 1) Care should be taken lest individual judgments do not overturn the desires of God in one’s determinations; 2) caution is always in order that evil forces be not provoked against one; 3) it is of­ten the most insignificant which is most adaptable to the will of God; 4) where godly influence is lost evil influence will fill the vacuum; 5) person­al commendation should be possible with regard to all the Lord’s people.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-samuel-16.html. 1985.
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