The internet has been flooded with information and plenty more misinformation about the transition from Obama to Trump.
Memes that portray VP Biden refusing to give the new administration the WIFI password are funny, and a needed relief for all the other upheaval surrounding the recent election.
Outgoing leaders, when leaving against their will, can be insolent and ungracious. Saul was such an outgoing leader. Desperate to hang onto power, and trying to kill off any rival.
The fist encounter between Saul and his successor, however, ends with Saul loving David, and welcoming him into his innermost circle.
1 – The King-Elect v 1-13
Saul continued on in his reign for many more years, but God’s blessing was no longer upon him, and a new king had to be anointed, and this time, it would be the one God had in mind, not the one the people demanded.
God tells Samuel to stop grieving over Saul (v1), and He sends him to Bethlehem.
Samuel is somewhat reluctant, and we can understand(v2). Anointing a new king while there is still one on the throne is hardly ever a move that can well. Saul would see it as treason, and as we will see, he is insanely jealous.
God gives him an ‘excuse’ to meet the sons of Jesse, and he is told to anoint the one that God shows him as being the right one.
A sacrifice is made, and Jesse presents his sons to Samuel.
What happens next both amuses and confuses us. It should also humble us.
It amuses, because we know David is the son Samuel has been sent to anoint, but he isnt present.
It confuses us, because God chooses the kind of person we wouldn’t choose.
It should humble us for exactly that fact. God does not choose the proud, the high and mighty, the strong, the ones who seem to have it altogether. He chooses the weak, the small, the ordinary, the outcast, the forgotten.
God is never impressed with physical appearance (16:7), the object of His attention is always our hearts.
This is good news, as we now know that we don’t have to measure up to the world’s standards on body shape, career, parental abilities, relationship status, or friendship connections.
It should come as a very liberating truth that God is not concerned with our successes, or even our failures. But we are so often intent on walking by sight and not by faith.
It also creates a problem in that we also know that none of us have heart that are pure. The heart is deceitfully wicked. No one can know it or change it but God ( Jeremiah 17:9-10; Hebrews 4:12).
The difference between David’s heart and Saul’s was not that David was sinless. The difference is that it was a softened heart, one willing to be convicted of sin, repent of it, and be used by God for His glory, rather than seeking to use God for personal glory and power. David’s heart was a ‘Godward’ heart.
If you’ve ever been part of an awkward silence, you know something of the discomfort that Jesse and his family would have felt while Samuel made all stand while they waited for David to come (16:11).
I also know how David feels in that moment. It’s often the middle child who is forgotten in my experience.
David would seem to have nothing going for him in his culture. The youngest, given the most menial and servile task possible. Forgotten. He is still a boy. He is small. Despised by his own father and brothers. Rejected by men, but chosen by God.
But God chooses him and rejects others.
God gives him His Spirit, while taking it from Saul.
‘The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.’ (2:4).
God brings down, and God raises up. He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Saul minimised sin and minimised God’s judgement He did not think it was possible for God to do the things He said He would do, in the ways God had commanded they should be done. When we do this, we limit God.
When we limit God, we will end up disobeying Him, either by our action or our inaction, and when we limit God’s abilities, He will never be able to use our’s for His glory.
Do you have David’s heart?
You can’t know. Jeremiah would tell us that. But you can know God, and if you know Him, truly know Him, and desire to know more of Him, you’ll have a heart like His.
There is another lesson and application here for us.
If we can only see the outside, and only God can see the heart, what does that mean for how we treat other people? Especially people we consider as being ‘different’ to us?
2 – The Troubled King v 14-23
While we are filled with hope about God choosing David, giving him His Spirit ‘from that day on’, we are startled by the contrast of the next verse and section. Verse 14 tells us, in the very next breath, that God’s Spirit departed from Saul, and not only that, but that Saul was then tormented by another kind of spirit, one sent from God that was anything but good.
When the celebration of sin replaces the confession of sin, God removes His presence
If you reject God, you reject good, and what you will have a result is a constancy of evil in your life that will torment, depress, and in the end, destroy you.
We must careful here to never say that all suffering, torment and depression are a result of God’s punishing hand. Many suffer without a cause, and due to no fault of their own, but as a result of other’s sins, or living in a fallen world with fallen minds and bodies.
Saul is not one of those people.
His rebellion and disobedience against God lead to God’s rejection and punishment in this way. He is in torment because he did not repent. He removed himself from the authority of God, and God, in turn, removed His presence, blessing, and Spirit from Saul.
When you purposely go against all that God says, when you are self-righteous and will not admit your sin, or seek forgiveness.When you say that you know better than God, and do the opposite of what He says, what do you think is left for you when you find you have removed every “God” thing from your life?
There will never be anything good left. Only evil. As the writer of Hebrews warned, for people who harden their heart after having knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.
3 – The Servant King v 18-23
All that happens later with Saul’s hunting after David and desiring his death, makes this story of David’s entering Saul’s house and becoming his closest confidant seems ironic to us, but it’s also very revealing.
It reveals that a true king can serve anyone, even his most bitter enemy. Someone who hates him.
David knew what was up. He knew he had been anointed as the next line to the throne, but he serves Saul willingly and exceptionally.
A servant king, willing to use the gifts God had given him in any capacity.
He could play to calm a flock of sheep, or he could play to calm a troubled king. God had given him both places to prepare him for what lay ahead.
The pasture prepared him to shepherd God’s people, and his willing servant heart, both in submission to his father, and to Saul, show a kind of leadership that God is after in all people. Those who lead not so much by example only, but by faith. Those who do their work as ‘unto the Lord’.
God uses those that are willing to be used. Those who will serve Him by serving others.
People in Saul’s service knew of David’s skill with music, his valour, his bravery, that he carried himself well, and most of all, that ‘The Lord is with him’. (16:18). How an obscure shepherd boy had such a reputation in the palace while being so disregarded at home makes us wonder, but all the same, God was with him, and that was got him into the service of King Saul.
Too often we cut people down because we see them as inexperienced, not of ‘the mould’ we expect, or just because we think they are incapable.
Never despise a person who has placed their trust in God. You never know what God has in store for them.
We also should never despise the ministry of music to the soul. I know well the value of music that speaks to and calms the soul when it’s troubled. I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith today if it was not for music that spoke truth to my soul when everything else was dark and hopeless.
Music is gift from God. We should never belittle it.
4 – Bethlehem’s King v 1,4.
‘Once in royal David’s city…’
The place of Bethlehem in the story of God’s salvation is so significant, that if it wasn’t for this place, we would not have a hope.
The king from Bethlehem chosen in 1 Samuel 16 by God made way for the King sent from God to save the world that was born many years later in that same town, establishing the throne of David forever.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2
Because of Bethlehem, we have a Saviour King.
Bethlehem shows us that God uses unusual, unexpected, little places, and ordinary, unknown, little people to do amazing things, for His great and eternal purposes.
God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong ( 1 Corinthians 1:27).
He takes young shepherds and makes them kings, and He takes young virgin girls and gives them His Son to bear into the world.
Never limit what God can do. He has already done the ‘impossible’.