Summary: David’s anointing
In 1809 a little French man called Napoleon was marching through Austria and for a while it looked like all the world would fall under his command. Yet only historians and military buffs could tell you the battles that were won by Napoleon in 1809. Yet in 1809 many thousands of children were being born – many hardly rated a raised eyebrow. And yet in that year the following great men of literature, science and politics were born – Charles Darwin, Robert Charles Winthrop, Edgar Alan Poe, Alfred Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Gladstone, and Abraham Lincoln. The lives of these statesmen, thinkers and writers would mark the genesis of an era. But nobody cared about those nobodies while Napoleon was moving through Austria. Funny but more people’s lives have been touched by those nobodies than by Napoleon.
If you and I had been living in 1020 BC the same could have been said about us. All of us would have been focused on a king named Saul, the first king of Israel. Meanwhile, a ‘nobody’ was keeping sheep for his father on the Judean hillside near the little village of Bethlehem. A little boy named David whom nobody noticed . . . except God.
Allow me to set the background to our passage from 1 Samuel 16 (quickview)  for you. Eli, the high priest, and his wicked sons are dead. Samuel, the last of the Judges is an old man. His sons have turned away from God and led wicked and shameful lives (1 Samuel 8 (quickview) .1-3). We read in 1 Samuel 8 (quickview) .5 that the people want a king to rule over them. Their hearts desire is to be like the nations around them. Samuel warns them of the dire consequences of a king but the people are determined. We read that their request actually breaks the heart of Samuel and that God points out to Samuel that the people’s request is actually a rejection of God (I Samuel 8 (quickview) .7-8). The people chose Saul to be their king. It is said that he stands head and shoulders above all the other men of Israel. He initially looks like the perfect choice as king but ‘appearances are deceptive.’ Saul openly disobeys the word of God and we read in 1 Samuel 15 (quickview) .24-35 of his disobedience and his concern that Samuel not let on in public that he has sinned before God and against God. Samuel does not humiliate him in public but announces that he never wants to see Saul again – and he does not until the day of his death. Saul is rejected by God for his sin and Samuel mourns that fact. Enter chapter 16.
However before we turn to chapter 16 turn with me to 1 Samuel 13 (quickview) .13-14 READ. I want you to keep those words at the forefront of your mind as we go through this passage from I Samuel 16 (quickview) . Remember the statement ‘ a man after his own heart.’ That is the key to understanding 1 Samuel 16 (quickview) .
Let me say this to you at the very beginning of this exposition of chapter 16 – God is never at a loss to know what to do and he is never in a panic. God does not die because a man of God dies. He does not change just because a man of God changes. He does not lose his way just because one of his people loses his way. God is not taken by surprise by any event or turn of circumstances. Turn to verse 1 and look at what God says to Samuel. Samuel is in the depths of despair. He is mourning Saul. Saul had started with such promise. He really seemed to be the man for the job but it has ended in disaster. Disaster for Samuel, for Saul and for the people of God. Yet note what God says to Samuel. ‘How long are you going to mourn Saul?’ I Samuel 9 (quickview) .2 tells us that Saul was an impressive young man but 1 Samuel 15 (quickview) .23 shows his character flaws – ‘rebellious and arrogant.’ Samuel mourns this but God tells him to get up and go to Bethlehem, to Jesse’s house because he has chosen one of his sons to be king over Israel. I have no doubt that Samuel had a genuine love for Saul and that his mourning is a genuine grief at how far from God Saul had wandered and hence the people had drifted also. Samuel was genuinely distressed at the spiritual bankruptcy of Saul and the people – not for him gossip about Saul’s sin, nor gloating over his ‘failings.’ No. Genuine sorrow at the failure of a promising instrument of God. Genuine sorrow for the spiritual welfare of the people to have to live under such a king. But God is not at a loss what to do here. His plans are not thwarted by Saul’s failure as king. He instructs Samuel to go to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse because God has chosen a king from amongst his sons. A king whose ‘heart will after his own (God’s heart).’