1 Samuel 16

1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 16

David Anointed King (16:1-13)

      • Yahweh said to Samuel, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul? I have rejected him as king. Fill up your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected one of his sons to be My king.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible includes an interesting note here on the Hebrew verb used for Yahweh’s selection of one of Jesse’s sons, “This Hebrew verb implies that God had seen one of [Jesse’s] sons and based his choice on what he saw…”

        • The Strong’s Concordance information can be accessed in these two places:

      • Samuel replied, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it he will kill me!” Yahweh said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice and I’ll show you what to do. You are to anoint for Me the one I point out to you.”

        • Did Yahweh just tell Samuel to lie? I’ve read some commentators try to dance all around this, but what clearly occurs here is that God tells Samuel to give incomplete information, or a half-truth. Call it what you want, but this is not the first, or the last time in Scripture God acts in a way that is at minimum a little deceptive. Michael Heiser discusses this very topic on Episode 210 of his Naked Bible Podcast, which I would recommend that anyone interested in this issue to view in its entirety as several excellent points are made. He says:

          • For those who would doubt that, we’re going to go through a series of passages where it’s pretty transparently clear that God does use deception—that He withholds information or that he suggests to people that he’s talking to… Like prophets, for instance, he suggests to them to withhold information—to do something deceptive.” His examples include:

          • Exodus 3:18 in which God tells Moses to ask Pharoah for permission for the Israelites to go into the wilderness for only 3 days. We all know a 3 day excursion wasn’t the ultimate goal.

          • Joshua 8 in which God instructs Joshua to set up an ambush (verse 2). Heiser points out that an ambush “inherently requires deception.”

          • 1 Kings 22:21-23 in which, as Heiser explains, “So in this instance, we have God using a planned deception—a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets (the prophets of Baal or whatever deity Ahab happens to be worshiping at that point, that day, whatever). A lying spirit comes up with the idea. God says, ‘Yep, that’ll work, good idea.’ That’s the way it happens. And God uses the deception that results from that to judge Ahab.”

          • The following excerpts sum up Heiser’s view on this topic and I find myself in agreement:

          • Now, we hear the word ‘deception’ and we think of that term in a sinister way. I’m going to suggest in a few moments that maybe we need to rethink that. Can we really use a word like ‘sinister’ when God decides to use deception to punish an evildoer? Because look,let’s face it folks: God decides when a person’s sin is going to be judged. That’s God’s job. That is his job description. It’s not ours, but it’s his. The righteous judge gets to decide when—not only when, but how—evil is punished. And in some cases, deception plays a role. It’s the arrow God pulls out of his quiver, so to speak, to do that.”

          • …Bob Chisholm,who teaches at Dallas Seminary (a friend of mine, an Old Testament professor), has an article entitled ‘Does God Deceive?’… He writes:

            • God is truthful in that He keeps His unconditional promises to His people and fulfills His sovereign decrees and oaths. God’s commitment to truthfulness, however, does not mean that He never uses deceit as a method of judgment on sinners. But He does so without compromising His truthful character and commitment to righteousness.”

      • Samuel did as Yahweh said and when he arrived at Bethlehem the elders came to meet him trembling and asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Purify yourselves and come with me.” And he performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “News of Samuel’s rebuke of Saul and execution of Agag had likely reached Bethlehem. Self-purification included bathing and abstaining from sexual intercourse (see Exod 19:10-15; cp Gen 35:2-4). The sacrifice likely took place the following morning (see Num 11:18; Josh 3:5; 7:13-14). Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons to make sure they were ready for the sacrifice and for the anointing of the new king (cp Exod 19:10; Josh 3:5).”

      • When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely Yahweh’s anointed one is here before Him.” But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Don’t consider his appearance or the height of his stature because I have rejected him. God doesn’t view things the way people do. People look at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Like Saul, Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, had an impressive outward appearance (cp 9:2)…God had another man in mind to anoint king. God can give a new heart (10:9), touch hearts (10:26), and peer into the deep motivations of the heart (Ps 139:1). God sees what people cannot see- a person’s true character. Eliab’s character comes out in 1 Sam 17:28.”

      • Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, but Samuel said, “Yahweh hasn’t chosen this one either.” Then Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “Yahweh hasn’t chosen this one either.” After Jesse had presented seven of his sons to Samuel, Samuel said, “Yahweh hasn’t chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are all your sons here?” Jesse answered, “There is still the youngest one, but he is out tending the sheep.” Samuel told Jesse, “Send and get him because we won’t sit down until he gets here.”

        • Guzik writes, “This shows the low regard David had among his own family. First, his father didn’t even mention him by name. Second, he wasn’t even invited to the sacrificial feast. Third, he was only called to come because Samuel insisted on it…When we consider that David was the youngest of eight sons, we aren’t surprised at the low regard he had in his own family. It wasn’t because David’s character or conduct was unworthy, it was simply because he was the youngest of eight sons.”

        • HCSB addresses a common question, “How many sons did Jesse have? In 1 Sm, Jesse had eight sons (see also 17:12); however, in 1 Ch 2:13-15 only seven are mentioned. It is possible that one of David’s older brothers died early in life and was therefore not counted in the writer’s reckoning. Differences in the Bible regarding the names of Jesse’s sons amount to normal variations, roughly equivalent to nicknames today- Eliab = Elihu (1 Ch 27:18); Shammah = Shimea (1 Ch 2:13). These could be dialectical variants, as well.”

      • So Jessie sent for him and had him brought in. He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance. Then Yahweh said, “This is the one, go and anoint him.” So Samuel took his horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. And the Spirit of Yahweh rushed upon David from that day onward. Then Samuel got up and went back to Ramah.

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The Spirit of the Lord had also come upon Saul (10:10) but had left him because of disobedience (16:14).”

Dissolution of Saul’s Reign (16:14- 31:13)

David’s and Saul’s Lives Interact (16:14- 18:30)

David Serves as a Court Musician

      • Now the Spirit of Yahweh had left from Saul and an evil spirit from Yahweh tormented him. Saul’s servants told him, “Look, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Command us who attend to you to look for someone who is a skilled lyre player. Whenever the evil spirit from God comes upon you, he will play it and you’ll feel better.”

        • Again, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the assertion in this passage that Yahweh sent an evil spirit upon Saul. Some creative suggestions are put forward to take the edge off the text, but frankly, I just don’t find any of them compelling. I believe the commentary from Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is accurate here:

          • The cause of Saul’s mental disorder is described as ‘an evil spirit from Jehovah,’ or ‘of Jehovah’ (1 Samuel 19:9); ‘an evil spirit of God’ (1 Samuel 16:15-16, 1 Samuel 18:10); ‘the spirit of evil’ (1 Samuel 16:23); even ‘the spirit of God’ (1 Samuel 16:23); because it was God’s messenger of judgment. Cp. 1 Kings 22:19-22. It is never called ‘the spirit of Jehovah,’ which always designates the spirit of holiness. Saul’s apostasy was punished not merely by the withdrawal of the grace which had been given as the endowment of his office, but by positive assaults from the powers of evil, akin to the demoniacal possession of the N. T. The result was a form of melancholy madness. The cause of the disease was (as we commonly speak) ‘supernatural,’ the cure employed ‘natural.’ The inference is that it is impossible to draw a sharp line of distinction between the two spheres. They are in closer connexion than is commonly recognised.”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible adds, “Two types of lyres are known from the ancient Near East. The smaller lyre had four to eight strings and was played with a pick made of shell or bone. The larger lyre had 10 to 13 strings and was played with the fingers.”

      • So Saul told his servants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who plays the lyre skillfully. He is a valiant warrior, articulate, handsome, and Yahweh is with him.”

      • Saul sent messengers to Jesse saying, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.” So Jesse loaded a donkey with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat and sent them to Saul with his son David. David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul loved him a great deal and David became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent a message to Jesse saying, “Allow David to remain in my service because I am very pleased with him.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Although at first Saul loved David very much, this love soon turned to intense jealousy and hatred (see 18:8-14). An armor-bearer in ancient Israel served as the personal attendant of a warrior chieftain (see 14:1-15; 31:4-6; Judg 9:54; 2 Sam 18:15). David’s father, Jesse, arranged for David to continue serving Saul while still fulfilling his shepherding duties at home (see 17:14-15).”

      • Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would pick up his lyre and play. This would bring relief to Saul and he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

        • HCSB writes, “How could David’s harp playing drive away an evil spirit from Saul? The Bible does not indicate how it happened, although the general effect of music on the emotions is well known. David was considered Israel’s favorite singer (2 Sm 23:1) and in the OT was credited with writing 73 psalms. David’s music combined with the Word of God in the presence of the demon drove it away (see Ps 119:50; Heb 4:12).”