Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 16

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-13

Saul and David (16:1-20:42)

The Choice of Saul’s Successor (16:1-13)

The present form of this story is probably late; it provides the inevitable sequel to the tradition preserved in the preceding chapter. The breach between Samuel and Saul led naturally to the choice of a candidate to replace Saul. The prophetic consciousness of Samuel was made aware of the divine will. God had rejected Saul as king and would provide his successor from among the sons of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. We may infer that divine inspiration directed Samuel’s mind to the remembrance of this man, a devout worshiper of the Lord. Samuel went accordingly to Bethlehem and, as divinely directed, arranged for a sacrifice, to which Jesse and his family were invited. They were consecrated, presumably by ritual lustration, and as the sons passed before him, Samuel sought for a guiding sign. The sign was not given with seven of the sons, but the youngest, left behind to tend the flock, proved to be the divine choice, after he was summoned. He was duly anointed with oil by the prophet, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him as previously it had done upon Saul. Once more the king is shown to be a charismatic personality, and thus kingship for Israel is demonstrated to be a religious as well as a political office. The gift of the Spirit is closely associated with the practice of anointing.

Verses 14-23

David Meets Saul (16:14-23)

Here we return to the early tradition. It describes how Saul became subject to an obscure mental affliction, producing extreme depression and attributed to an evil spirit, the Lord having withdrawn his Spirit and sent this in its place. We note again the Hebrew tendency to ignore secondary causes and ascribe everything, even evil things like madness, to direct divine activity. The belief that madness was due to demonic influence is present in the New Testament, as the ministry of our Lord shows, and the facts of demon possession and its curative exorcism were accepted by the Early Church. Just as ecstatic prophecy was often stimulated by musical accompaniments, so the effects of the evil power were amended by music. By this means David was brought to Saul’s notice, as a practiced player on the lyre, able to soothe the king’s depression. This story fits in with the tradition which regarded David as a musician and made him the typical figure around whom the psalmody of Israel was gathered across the succeeding centuries. David was engaged by Saul as his armor-bearer or squire.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Samuel 16". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/1-samuel-16.html.
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