Bible Focus: 1 Samuel 16-31
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected for myself a king from his sons.”
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and said, “Certainly the LORD’s anointed one is here before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”
After Jesse presented seven of his sons to him, Samuel told Jesse, “The LORD hasn’t chosen any of these.” Samuel asked him, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” he answered, “but right now he’s tending the sheep.” Samuel told Jesse, “Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he gets here.” So Jesse sent for him. He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance. Then the LORD said, “Anoint him, for he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully on David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah.1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13 CSB
If you want to start a bit of debate, try asking a group of people if a person can truly change. Some of us believe that substantial change to one’s character can continue to occur into late adulthood. Others firmly believe that one’s character is set at an early age and won’t change much over the years.
There’s at least a bit of truth in both sides of that argument. Sometimes people do undergo a radical shift in their priorities later in life. Others persist in their ways for a lifetime, even when it causes them difficulty or pain. What causes one person to resist change and the the other to embrace it? Such questions might seem to have no solid answers.
But no matter how much such things may mystify us, the ways of our character hold no surprises for God. He knows what is in our hearts. He knows we are bent towards sin and wrongdoing, but he also knows if we want to follow him. He knows if we will resist his Spirit or if we will try to cooperate with him. He knows if we will submit to him as Lord and God, or if the only one we will truly submit to is ourselves.
Saul, the first king of Israel, turned away from following God. As a result, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the next king, calling him “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 15:14 CSB). This anointing was done in a quiet manner in David’s home town of Bethlehem. From that moment on, God’s Spirit remained with David. However, David did not challenge Saul for the throne. He waited in Bethlehem and continued to care for his father’s flocks.
Meanwhile, God’s Spirit had left king Saul, and Saul was tormented by dark thoughts. Saul’s servants suggested that he find a man to play the lyre to soothe Saul’s desperate moods. Saul told them to find someone, and the person they suggested was David. So Saul summoned David and he entered the king’s service. He played the lyre when Saul needed relief, and he also became Saul’s armor-bearer.
However, Saul became jealous of David after he killed a giant Philistine enemy by the name of Goliath. Saul began to fear that David’s growing popularity would enable him to claim the throne. During one of Saul’s raving fits, as David played the lyre, Saul twice tried to kill him with a spear. When that didn’t work, Saul made David an army commander and sent him away to battle, but that only served to fuel David’s success.
Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had left Saul. Therefore, Saul sent David away from him and made him commander over a thousand men. David led the troops and continued to be successful in all his activities because the LORD was with him. When Saul observed that David was very successful, he dreaded him.1 Samuel 18:12-15 CSB
Eventually, Saul declared David an outright enemy and tried to have him hunted down and killed. So David fled, and a group of loyal men went with him. Saul and his troops spent a long time pursuing David and his men. On two occasions, David had a clear opportunity to kill Saul, but he refused to do so. David eventually fled into Philistine territory away from Saul. Then the entire Philistine army attacked Saul’s army, and Saul himself was killed. Saul had reigned for 42 years. The throne of Israel was finally open for David to claim.
David must have grown very discouraged over his long time of exile. I wonder if he ever doubted that he would live to see the promise of his anointing. Yet he continued to trust God and submit to God’s guidance, refusing to take matters solely into his own hands. David recognized that God’s Spirit was with him, and that God was the true King over everything.
Here’s the good news: through Jesus, we can have a relationship with the true King over everything. When we admit our sin and recognize Jesus as Lord, we receive the Spirit of God that then lives with us forever. God’s Spirit knows our hearts, and he is also the one who can truly change our hearts to become more like his.
Featured image from Lewis Roberts on Unsplash.