Sermon preached on 1 Samuel 16:1-13 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 5/17/2015 in Novato, CA.
Audio recording not available.
1 Samuel 16:1-13
“I Have Provided Myself a King”
In God’s good providence, we’ve had a couple weeks break from our sermon series through 1 Samuel. Yet, it seems like it was the right spot at which to take a break. We are reminded in the opening verse of our chapter today of where we left off. Last time we read of how God had rejected Saul as King over Israel. Now, in this chapter, God will select his replacement. And so in verse 1, we are reminded of that last chapter when we find Samuel still mourning over Saul. Presumably Samuel is mourning over Saul’s failure and subsequent rejection. Remember, Samuel had not initially liked the idea of having a king in Israel. But then God had him give the people what they wanted, and so God had used Samuel to anoint Saul as King. Surely, Samuel had quite a bit of emotional investment in Saul. Surely Samuel remembers how things seemed to start out so well when Saul was young and humble. But now Samuel had to not only witness Saul’s start, but also his failures and downfall, and now his kingdom in God’s eyes has come to an end. And so understandably Samuel was greatly grieved over all this. And yet as we begin our passage, the Lord somewhat rebukes Samuel in his ongoing grief. God sees that the time for mourning is now over, and now God has a new job for Samuel. The job is there in the last half of verse 1. Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons. I love this initiative that God takes here in selecting this new king. And I love how God views this king. He doesn’t say he’s selecting a new king for the people. He says he’s selecting a new king for himself. The last king was the kind of the king the people wanted; it was chosen for them. Now, God will choose a king of his own choosing, a king to serve him.
So then, we’ll consider today’s passage in three points. First, we’ll see how God chooses the new king, King David. Second, we’ll see how this Davidic Kingdom is inaugurated here with the anointing of David. But then third, we’ll reflect on how this will yet look forward to a final consummation of this Davidic Kingdom, a consummation that God will bring about largely through his rather ordinary acts of providence.
Let’s begin then with God’s choosing of a new king. We see God send Samuel to the family of Jesse, and family of the tribe of Judah living in Bethlehem. You might recall that Jesse is mentioned in the book of the Bible just before the book of 1 Samuel. I’m talking about the book of Ruth, which also takes place primarily in the town of Bethlehem. In that story, we see that Ruth and Boaz become the grandparents of this Jesse. Well, here we see God send the prophet Samuel to meet with the house of Jesse. God will be selecting his new king from this family.
Well, an important point comes out here in this selection process. God’s selection of a king will be different than how Saul was selected. Saul was the kind of king that the people would select. Saul was taller than anyone else, and from outward appearances he looked like he’d make the perfect king with such stature and strength. But that’s not how God will choose this new king. God makes this clear right away when Samuel gets to meet Jesse’s sons. Jesse essentially has all the sons walk before Samuel. And when Eliab, the firstborn of Jesse’ sons (17:23) comes before Samuel, Samuel right away thought this must be the one. Based on God’s comments, Eliab must have also been very tall and outwardly looked like a very kingly figure. But God right away stops Samuel. God says Eliab is not the one. In verse 7, it almost sounds like a bit of a rebuke that God gives Samuel. God says in verse 7 that he doesn’t see things as humans see things. God says there in verse 7 that he won’t look at his height or stature, or at his external appearances. No, God says he will be looking at the man’s heart. God’s selection for a king will be based on the inner person; on their inner character; on the state of their soul. As they say going, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” so too will God judge by something far deeper than externals. God, who truly knows the heart of a man, even better than the man himself — God will evaluate the heart in choosing this next king. This reminds us back to chapter 13. When Saul sinned by presumptuously offering the sacrifice himself, God said there that he wanted a man after his own heart. Well, now, that desire is being expressed with God’s choice of a new king here.
And so after all the sons of Jesse are brought before him, still God did not pick any of them. After further inquiry, Samuel learns that there is yet one more. The youngest son, who is out in the fields. And so they call for him, and he comes, and look at verse 12. God says, “This is the one!” Now there is something a bit ironic here. God had made quite a big deal here about not choosing a king based on their appearances. And in one sense David reflects that. As the youngest in the family, he was surely the unlikely choice. He certainly doesn’t seem to have the height and stature that Eliab did. And so we know that surely God chose David over all the other sons because of his heart. God looked to the heart of David and saw a heart that God had been shaping and molding for this very purpose. And yet the irony to me is what we find in the first part of verse 12. It’s stated again in verse 18 in next week’s passage. What we see is that David was very outwardly attractive. Now yes, particularly in his youth, David would have outwardly appeared small and young, relatively speaking. Not at all someone you would pick as king. And yet, ironically the text still chooses to mention to us in such an overt way, that David was outwardly very handsome. But of course there is a rather obvious side point to make. If you are ugly, that doesn’t guarantee you have a good heart. And if you are handsome, it doesn’t mean you have a bad heart. God simply is saying that it’s not the external appearances that you should ultimately be concerned about, particularly in choosing a leader for God’s people.
And at this first point then, we can make a quick application to Jesus. Jesus, as the greater Son of David, was not well endowed in terms of his outward appearance. The prophecy of the Christ in Isaiah 53:2 would tell us this, saying that he had “no beauty that we should desire him.” And yet we know that Christ’s heart, even more so than David’s, was a heart after God’s own heart. We’ll get to see in this book why God saw something commendable in David’s heart. But we’ll also see the struggle that David would have from his heart as well. David is one who has been born again, having a heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and he will bear much fruit. But he’ll still struggle with sin, sin that flowed ultimately from his heart that like us, struggles with that remaining sinful corruption. But not Jesus. Jesus’ heart is not tainted with sin. He has not known that fallen nature. He instead came to this world to do his father’s will. You could say, to accomplish the heart of his heavenly father. And that he did from his heart, fully and completely. That’s our Lord and Savior.
So then, let’s move on to our second point. After God selects David, he inaugurates this Davidic Kingdom by having Samuel anoint David. This is God’s command to Samuel in verse 12. “Arise and anoint him,” God says. And so in verse 13, Samuel obeys and anoints David. As Samuel had anointed Saul before, now he anoints David to be the next king. Similar and yet different, as we know. As we said with Saul’s anointing, this was a significant thing. David will yet make a big deal that even in Saul’s evil actions, he still is the Lord’s Anointed and must be treated as such. Well, David too now is also the Lord’s Anointed. And as I’ve mentioned many times, that’s what the word Messiah and Christ means. Those are simply the Hebrew and Greek words for Anointed One. Saul was an Anointed One, though he certainly failed to live up to his calling. And so God did not further establish Saul’s kingdom beyond having Saul as king. David, too now was an Anointed One, and as we’ll see, God will establish David’s kingdom. It will be through David’s kingdom that Jesus will come. And Jesus, is the ultimate Anointed One of the LORD; King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
We see part of the significance of this anointing in the reference to the Holy Spirit in verse 13. Coinciding with this anointing is the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon David that day. We didn’t read it yet, but this is in contrast with the next passage; in the very next verse, verse 14, it will mention how the Spirit had departed from King Saul and is replaced with some distressing spirit. Now, as I mentioned earlier, this description of the Spirit coming on Saul, and as it now departs from Saul and comes to David, must not refer to someone’s spiritual regeneration. That’s how we tend to think about the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes upon someone, particularly from our new covenant context. But surely David was already regenerated prior to his being anointed here. Otherwise, God would not have already seen in his heart what he had seen. And so this coming of the Spirit upon these two kings must have to do something with God’s equipping them for their service of the king. Something of a similar nature is probably like how we talk about spiritual gifts in the New Testament. Christians receive spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. It’s a work of the Spirit within them. But these giftings from the Holy Spirit are a separate thing from the Holy Spirit regenerating them. But I digress. My point is simply to state that at this juncture we recognize that David’s anointing came with the power of the Spirit to particularly equip him and strengthen for the task of leadership that lies ahead for him.
And so God inaugurates the Davidic Kingdom, God’s own choice for a king and kingdom, with this powerful, Spirit-filled, anointing. And yet, I have several times now used the word “inaugurated”. He’s inaugurated the kingdom. The kingdom of David has in some sense effectively arrived with this anointing. If there is any doubt, see the effectiveness in the coming of the Spirit to David and the departure of the Spirit from Saul. And yet, look at how private, and even secretive, this whole affair even is. There is no public proclamation of David as king here. From God’s eyes, he’s been anointed as king of his kingdom, but clearly he’s not yet come into the full expression of it yet. Starting in the next verse, we’ll return back to see what is going on in Saul’s life. We’ll see King Saul continuing to serve as king for many of chapters. He’ll finally officially become anointed king of just his tribe of Judah in 2 Samuel 2. He won’t officially become anointed king of all the tribes of Israel until 2 Samuel 5. At those events its humans representing those tribes who are anointing David as king. But that will happen ultimately because God first here in this chapter anoints David as king.
And so when God anoints David here, he inaugurates the Davidic Kingdom, and there is a sense then that his kingdom had come, and yet there is much left to happen until it is really realized and consummated in outward glory. We can again make an application to Jesus Christ here. Jesus, as an ongoing establishment of this Davidic Kingdom, is at this point a kingdom that’s been inaugurated but not fully established in consummate glory. As those Christians who are a part of Christ’s kingdom, we know this. We can relate. We can relate to David here, and we can understand the situation with Christ and his kingdom. Because we have each been baptized by both water and the Holy Spirit, which is a kind of anointing. And yet we know we’ve not come into the glory of the kingdom to which we have been brought into. Nor have we even been revealed yet to the world that we are the sons of God in glory. But the Scripture assures us that our own anointing in Christ is one that has in one sense truly come. It has been inaugurated. But we must patiently await its final consummation.
This leads us then to our third point for today. God’s inauguration of the Davidic Kingdom looks forward to a final consummation of this kingdom. In other words, we’ll be seeing how God brings about the consummation of David’s kingdom. That’s the chapters in this book that lie before us. And I want us to spend a few moments here thinking ahead to that. I want us to spend a few moments to observe how we will get there. You see, as we look forward in this book, we see that God brings about the consummation of David’s kingdom largely through his rather ordinary acts of providence. In other words, how David goes from being anointed as king in name, to actually reigning over the people in glory, will involve a long drawn out story. It will be one that at times, I’m sure David really had to wonder what God was up to in it all. But just stop and think about how David will get from young shepherd boy to King over all of Israel. It starts with this anointing, but God will take him through quite a providential journey to finally arrive at reigning over God’s people.
So for example, we’ll see next passage that David begins to raise in prominence through being called into the kings service as a musician. He’ll further rise in status when he then takes on Goliath as a youth and wins. Later he’ll further get intertwined with the royal family as he becomes best friends with prince Jonathan and is married to princess Michael. And yet as he grows in prominence, Saul becomes jealous. Eventually, King Saul will want him dead. David will have to go on the run. Twice, providentially, Saul is put in a place where David could kill him, but David won’t do it. David, surely a reflection of godly character, won’t himself strike out at the Lord’s Anointed king. David will even eventually go and live as a refugee in Philistine territory at one point. And so David in his journey to actually take the throne will have lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. Much of that time will be very difficult for him, at great risk to his life. Yet, through this all, God would work through his providence to bring David to the throne.
Of course, even before this, God was working in the same way. I mentioned the story of Ruth earlier. That’s like the prequel to this book, but it shows that in a similar providential way, God was ordering things to secure a way for King David to be born that ultimately those troubled times of the era of judges could be put behind them with the establishment of the Davidic kingdom.
And so in both that prequel with Ruth, and in what we’ll see in the coming chapters of David interacting with Saul, it’s God’s ordinary providence that’s particularly shown as bringing about God’s kingdom in David. Let me make sure you understand what I’m saying. When I’m talking about ordinary providence, I’m contrasting that say with those times in redemptive history where God was working in extraordinary supernatural ways. For example, in the Exodus, God did those 10 plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna from heaven, etc, to bring about the Exodus. Later when Elijah and Elisha come, we’ll see a lot of miracles. And when Jesus came he did many miracles during his earthly ministry to legitimize his teaching. But here between when David is anointed as king until he actually becomes king, there is a lot of providential happenings to bring it about. In other words, David’s kingdom goes from inaugurated to consummated, not through a bunch of miracles, but largely through God working in his normal providential ways. Now, yes, there are some amazing and direct ways we can see God at work providentially in establishing David’s kingdom. And yes, David’s victory over Goliath seems pretty miraculous. But in general, God didn’t bring David into his kingdom through a lot of spectacular supernatural events.
Why do I emphasize this? Because I want us to connect and relate to this. Because we live in a similar situation. We’ve already made the point that Christ’s kingdom is inaugurated but not fully consummated. Since we are in Christ’s kingdom, that is directly relevant to us. And like David, this time between the inauguration and consummation of the kingdom is one lived out through much ordinary providence. Like David’s time, this is not an era of supernatural miracles. Right now, Jesus has told us to be patiently waiting for his full establishment of his glorious kingdom.
And so like with David, sometimes the outcome might look uncertain to those without faith. If you were David, and Saul seemed so close to killing you so many times, you might be tempted to despair and doubt God’s promise. And yet David didn’t He knew, he believed, he trusted, that God had anointed him as king. The worldly thing for David to do would have been to fret, or to second guess God, but he didn’t. He trusted and believed. And in God’s good providence, he did ultimately come into his kingdom. The Davidic kingdom was established. And it was ultimately established all the more with the coming of Jesus Christ.
We too, brothers and sisters, have been called to trust and believe. We might look around and wonder how God is providentially at work. We might be tempted to wonder how God’s plans are establishing Christ’s kingdom at this point. But just as David needed to trust God in whatever came his way, so we must as well. We must keep affirming that Romans 8:28 is still in effect. That God has worked all things together for our good, as those who love God and are called according to his purpose. His purpose includes a delay between the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom and its consummation. But this is the same God who purposed a delay between David’s inaugurated kingdom and its consummation. And as surely as that kingdom was established, so all the more will Christ’s kingdom be consummated. For he who has promised is faithful.
Let us then renew our trust and faith in Jesus as our King and as our Savior. Amidst the troubles and joys in this life, may we trust that Jesus is not only able to deliver us from sin and death, but also to carry us safely forward to the day of his kingdom coming in glory. Amen.
Copyright © 2015 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.