Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself with a king among his sons.” (12) And Samuel said, “How can I go?” If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, Take an heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” (3) “Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. You shall anoint for Me the one I name for you.” (4) So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” (5)And he said, “peaceably” I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. (6) So it was, when they came, he looked at Eliab and said, “surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him (7) But the lord said to Samuel, “do not look at his appearance, or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (8) So Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, neither has the Lord chosen this one” ((9) Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” (10) Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, The Lord has not chosen these.” (11) And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, send and bring him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one! (13) Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
One of the questions most frequently asked of pastors is: “how were people in the Old Testament saved?” Well, the question may be frequently asked, but it is not a simple one to answer. The life story of the great Jewish king David of Israel is a major part of the answer. One of the purposes of the meticulous recording of the history of His people Israel was to demonstrate to the entire human race what God can do for and with people who will faithfully do what He tells them to do. The opening words of the book of Hebrews say that “at various times and in various ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets.” That is what theologians have come to call “progressive revelation.” By that term they mean that the ultimate story of our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ was revealed by “types” and “shadows” – pictures that God would provide through stories and events and eras of history little by little. Things such as the tabernacle and the temple and all of the various offerings and sacrifices; even the clothing of the priests. But one of the most important “revelations” is the lives of various men and women whose lives picture for us the nature of Christ. And certainly, one of those people is the young king of Israel, David, the son of Jesse and the forerunner of Jesus Christ. God did it this way so that we are able to look at this fabulous tapestry and study and read about it in detail. One of the features of progressive revelation was the fact that many different times God “saved” His people from various situations. And that temporal salvation was always a picture of the coming spiritual salvation. And the men whom he used as “deliverers” were always pictures of the ultimate deliverer, Jesus Christ. In the life of this one man many of the basic truths and promises about the coming savior and the coming salvation were established. As the story of the Old Testament comes to the life of David, however, progressive revelation takes a great leap forward. In the life of this one man many of the basic truths and promises about the coming Savior were established. In the years leading up to his life many details had been revealed about the savior. They knew that He would be divine, because no one but God could ultimately triumph over Satan (referred to in God’s promise to Eve that He would be divine, because no one but God could ultimately triumph over Satan. But they also knew that he would be a human being because He would be the “seed” of the woman, according to Genesis 3:15. As time went by, God revealed to Abraham that the redeemer would come through his descendants. This, of course, narrowed it down significantly.
Then, in the days of Moses and Aaron it was demonstrated through the system of sacrifices that the redeemer would be a priest and about the importance of a sacrifice for forgiveness of sins.
So little by little, and bit by bit the puzzle was taking shape. But when David came on the scene, God announced for the first time the specific person through whom the redeemer would come. The whole flood of humanity was narrowed down to the one man through whose ancestry He would be born. And as the life of David progresses we see that not only is he the ancestor but the pre-eminent “type” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
David’s introduction is found in I Samuel chapter 16, when the people rejected the ministry of the prophet Samuel, and demanded a king. “so that we may be like the other nations.” To make a long story a little shorter, their first king was jealous and insecure, and ultimately made matters worse by committing suicide in I Samuel 31:4 And as the life of David progresses we see that not only is he the ancestor of Christ, but the most eminent personal “type” or “picture” of Christ in all of the Old Testament.
Now there is something else that is also extremely important to notice about progressive revelation. And that is that every time there was a new advance in the revelation it occurred when human reasoning would have least expected it. For example, the first announcement of the incarnation of Christ was not given during those times when “God walked with them in the cool of the garden,” but after they had rebelled against Him. The first statement of the everlasting covenant” was made after all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth” and God had destroyed all but 8 of the human race. The first announcement of the particular family from which the Messiah would come was made just after the revolt of man at the tower of Babel. The law of God was not given to Joseph when he was revered throughout all Egypt, but to Moses when the people had revolted against the very God who had delivered them from their slavery in Egypt. Ezekiel chapter 20 says that they had been worshipping the gods of Egypt, during their captivity and refused to stop!)
And that was exactly the pattern that was followed when God began the process of revealing further truth through the life of David. After the death of Joshua God had allowed terrible deterioration to take place in the world. Judges 21:25 says that in those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. That is a description of anarchy. And the story given there bears it out. A story of rape and murder and mob action. And notice carefully what it says there. It doesn’t say that they did what was wrong in their own eyes; they did what was right in their own eyes.” And doesn’t that sound exactly like the very decade in which we live? But you know, that should be encouraging to us. It may well be that someone is reading this right now who is in a situation that seems hopeless. And maybe, to make matters worse, it is a situation of your own making. Hopeless situations are not always of our own making, but sometimes they are. But even in those “hopeless” days God was already preparing “a man after His own heart.” But the interesting thing is that no one but God knew who the deliverer was or where he was. Even Samuel the prophet had to be given a special divine revelation to be able to identify him. And that, too, is instructive. When we cry out to God for deliverance from an impossible situation, many times the relief comes from a source that we would have never imagined.
The book of I Samuel opens with the people rejecting the ministry of the prophet Samuel and demanding a king, “so that we may be like all the other nations.” Imagine that! This was a nation that had been created for the very opposite reason! They were to have been a nation that would be a trophy of what He could do with and for people would follow and obey Him. Years later through the prophet Hosea, that He gave them that king in His anger. And that king just made matters worse. Even though he started out well his life was marked by jealousy and insecurity. And it ended by consulting a witch (which he himself had outlawed) and ultimately committing suicide in I Samuel 31:4
This is the dark background, then, into which the great light that of the life of David comes. And you know, that should be encouraging to us. Even in that dark hour, God already was preparing their deliverance, “a man after His own heart.” But the interesting thing is that no one knew who the deliverer was or where he was. Even Samuel the prophet had to be given a special divine revelation to be able to identify him. and that, too, is instructive. When we cry out to God for deliverance from an impossible situation, many times the relief comes from a source that we would have never imagined.
The first mention of David is here in I Samuel chapter 16. But his story goes on through the rest of I Samuel, through all of II Samuel, and into the first chapter of I Kings. And it is a fascinating saga with every kind of emotion and action and intrigue known to man. The story begins very quietly. God speaks to Samuel in verse 1 and tells him to stop mourning over Saul and go out and anoint a new king. Look at it again:
Now the Lord said to Samuel, how long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
The phrase “seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel is a review of a story told in great detail back in chapter 15. There, in in verses 10 through 12, we have the story of how Saul had not only sinned, but had refused to confess his sin, and God took the kingdom of Israel in Matthew 23: 37 through 39, and yet the temple stood until 70 A.D!
Let me digress here just a moment to say that we should let that be a warning to us. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of man is set in him to do evil.” Sometimes we wonder why God lets people “get by” with their sin, but it may be that He is being gracious, giving them time to repent. What’s worse is that sometimes we live in sin for a long time, and because God doesn’t judge us, we take it for granted that everything is all right. But don’t be misled. God may be “waiting to be gracious to you.” Don’t presume upon His grace any longer. Confess that sin now, before He has to put you on the shelf and use someone else to accomplish the things for His glory that He would have used you for.
Then notice in the last line of verse 1 that Samuel was instructed to go “Jesse the Bethlehemite” to find that new king. Now that probably doesn’t seem significant to most of us, but probably was stunning to Samuel. Samuel knew that Micah 5:2 would later tell us, that Bethlehem was “little among the thousands” of Judah. Surely this would not be place to go looking for a king! This would have been like looking in a small mining town or even an unincorporated community to look for the next president of the United States.
But Paul explains all of that for us in I Corinthians 1:27-29 – God deliberately chooses the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And why?” “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” This is why He chose uneducated fishermen to be the first evangelists. It is why He has chosen you and me. But God carries it a step further a little further down in the chapter in the particular son of Jesse which He chose. You probably remember the story. When Samuel saw the first son down in verse 6 he thought surely this was the one. But God said “no.” Then the same thing happened in verses 8,9, and 10. Finally in verse 11 Samuel checks one more time to see if there were any more sons, and Jesse tells him about David. David is brought in in verse 12 and the Lord said, “arise, anoint him, for this is the one.” Now the reasoning behind al of this is back in verse 17. Look at it again:
(17) But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Even though this is a well-known verse, it is very searching. It is our hearts that God looks at, not our outward appearance. We’re pretty good at “putting on a front, aren’t we? But never forget, it is the heart that God looks at. What does he see when he looks at you? Does He see “a heart that is “purified by faith” as Acts 15:9 says? A heart that loves Him with all your heart and soul and strength.” As in Deuteronomy? Or a heart that is still “desperately wicked?” as in Jeremiah 17:9 puts it? This has been God’s principle all down through the years. He ignores that in which we humans take pride, and He chooses what we would not expect. He chose Isaac, the son of Abraham’s old age, not Ishmael, his firstborn. He chose Jacob, not Esau, the Israelites, not the Philistines, not the Egyptians, or the Babylonians, or the Philistines. And in the same way He chose the youngest son from a small family in a small town to be the king whose descendant would reign for ever and ever.
This chapter just bursts in on the life of David already in progress. But if this is all we had we would not know very much about his early days. But there are several places in Scripture where passing references to it are made. So in the time and space that remains I want to look at a few of those passages. The first one is right here in this chapter. Look down at verse 11:
And Samuel said to Jesse, are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the younger and there he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, send and bring him. for we will not sit down till he comes here.”
Notice in the middle of the verse, there he is, keeping the sheep. This first sight that we have of David is of him doing that which Jesus pictured Himself doing, and that which the Holy Spirit pictures elders and pastors doing; shepherding sheep. And David kept that attitude of a shepherd throughout his life.
Then in chapter 17 of I Samuel, where we have the story of Goliath. Here we find David talking to King Saul and in that conversation is another fact about his childhood. Look at verses 34,35
(34) But David said to Saul, your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock (35) I went out after it and struck it and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, and delivered the lamb from its mouth and when it arose against me I caught it by its beard and struck and killed it
There are a couple of things to notice here. First of all, notice this great risk for the sake of one lamb! How many shepherds would have considered this too great a risk to take for just one little lamb. In fact it may have been this story that Jesus had in mind when He spoke of the shepherd “who would leave the ninety and nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying, in Matthew chapter 18.
There is a second thing to notice from this story of the lion and the bear, and it is down in verse 37 of chapter 17:
(37) Moreover David said, the Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear , He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine . .. .”
How did David do this unbelievable thing of killing a lion and a bear with his bare hands? By faith in God! Even as a teen-ager he believed that God could provide strength for whatever task He gave him to do. Then Psalm 132 contains another example of David’s spiritual condition as a boy.
David is a perfect example of the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25, about the servants who were faithful in administering the talents that had been given to them. To those servants the ruler said, “well done, good and faithful servant.” You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”