2: Entering the Palace

“The Life of David”

Lesson 2: “Entering the Palace”

I Samuel 16:14-23


Jesus Christ is the “watershed” of the history of the world. Everything in human history before His time pointed toward Him, and everything since He came has been built upon what He did on earth. Because of that, during the several thousand years before His coming, there were many “foreshadowings” and “types” of Him and His ministry. But of all those “hints” at what He would be like, none were clearer than the ones given by the life of David, recorded in First and Second Samuel in the Old Testament. We have begun our study by looking in our first lesson at the anointing of David with all of the lessons that it teachers us, in I Samuel 16:1-13. So in this lesson we want to continue looking at the apprenticeship of David in I Samuel 16:14-23. Remember that in the first half of the chapter David was anointed to replace Saul as king of Israel, with all of the majesty (and holiness) that office would involve. But the second half of the chapter is a great contrast to that. It is fascinating to see that even though He had been chosen and anointed by God, before David entered the “glorious” section of his life, there was a time of great difficulty. And right here at the beginning of the record of his life is one of the first illustrations of the way David pictures the Lord Jesus Christ. The scripture makes clear that the Lord Jesus will someday rule over the universe as King of kings and Lord of lords, but in His first advent on earth it was a different story – before the crown there had to be the cross. Just so, before David’s crown there was much humiliation and suffering of various kinds. And, incidentally, this is the pattern God follows with anyone who is really useful to Him. The principle of scripture is “you have been faithful in a few things, I Will make you ruler over many things.” (Matthew 25:21 and “He that would be greatest among you, let him be the servant of all.” (Luke 22:26).


So let’s look the setting for the apprenticeship in verses 14 through 18 Verse 14 reveals that there was a real problem which led to this stage of David’s life. The problem is in verse 14:


But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.


The background of this verse is back in chapter 15. Saul had deliberately disobeyed God’s order to kill all of the  Amalekites, including their king and all of their cattle. But Saul had not killed their king. But what was worse was that when he was confronted with his sin, instead of confessing it, he tried to rationalize it away. And God sent Samuel to tell him that the throne would be taken away and given to “a man after God’s own heart, according to verse 23.


Now we have to be careful with the wording of this verse. First of all, we have to remember that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell most believers – He “came upon them” for special service. David was an exception – the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt him from the time of his anointing. But in the New Testament He does. Romans 8:9 – “if any one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. So this verse should not be taken as an indication that we can lose the Holy Spirit or our salvation. Then we also need to notice that this was not “an evil” spirit as the King James Version says, but “a distressing spirit.” Probably the closest thing to it from our experience would be “depression” or “anxiety.” Although it is not always the reason for depression or anxiety, God can and does use them as a means of discipline or to bring conviction of sin.


So because of Saul’s problem, his servants come up with the proposal of verses 15 and 16


And Saul’s servants said to him, surely a distressing spirit from God is troubling you,  (16)”Let our master now command your servants who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he shall play it with h is hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you and you shall be well.”


These servants were perceptive – they saw exactly what the problem was. But their solution was faulty (even though God ultimately used it for good.) Since they could see that this thing was “from the Lord” it would have been much better for them to advise Saul to confess his sin and get right with the Lord. But instead they applied a “surface” solution – treated the symptoms rather than the disease. And this is a real danger when believers are under discipline or unbelievers are under conviction. But God does not convict the unsaved or discipline the saved just to get us to “turn over a new leaf.” But the solution sounds good to Saul, and so in verse 17 he gives his permission to pursue the plan.


So “as luck would have it, (of course we know that there is no such thing as “luck”) one of the servants knows of just the right person! So the portrayal of David is given in verse 18:


(18) Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person.; and the Lord is with him.”


This statement  teaches us several things about David’s life at this point. First, other people knew about him. Maybe this came from the episode of saving the sheep from the lion and the bear (in 7:37). But at any rate, it was a good report – “a mighty  a man of valor” ”man of war,” “prudent in speech;” handsome, plus being able to play the harp. But the most important thing is in the last line – and the Lord is with him.”


“Having the Lord with us” will not necessarily make all of these other things come true of us. But unless the Lord is with us, those other things will be of no real value. And this phrase also indicates that David had “a good testimony” in todays vocabulary. Even though this servant had noticed all of David’s good qualities, he also knew that he also knew that “the Lord was with him.” This is the kind of thing Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:16 when he said “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.”


What do other people see in you? “Your good qualities” or “your father who is in heaven.”


So that is the setting that brings David into the palace for the first time. But in verses 19 through 23. We have the commencement of the apprenticeship. And the first thing that happens is the calling of David.in verse 19


Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “send me your son David, who is with the sheep.


Little did Saul realize that in calling for David he was bringing into the palace the very one whom God had chosen to replace him. But this is an example of the fact that “God’s ways are higher than our “ (Isaiah 55:8) and that He works all things together for the good of His children. But at the same time, think what a test this was for David. He had been anointed to be the king, not a servant in the palace! And besides that for all he knew, Saul could have heard about his anointing and be plotting to kill him. But notice David’s response: Verse 20 tells of the coming of David to the palace.


And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat, and sent them by his son David to Saul.


Now we have been saying that David is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ – and he is. But the picture is made even more complete with the focus of this verse. Notice who the subject is: Jesse, David’s father. And what does Jesse do? He sends His son, loaded with presents, to one who is in desperate need. Do you see the picture? This is exactly what God the Father, did in sending Jesus to earth. Saul was without the Spirit of God, and in desperate need; the world was alienated from God and without hope in the world” (Ephesians 1) Jesse sent his son with presents for the king, not with weapons to the one who would soon be his enemy; the father sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world; but the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17) And notice that David willingly participated in the plan, even though he had been anointed king! This is exactly what Jesus did, according to Philippians 2:5-11. And that same passage says that we are to imitate Him in serving others who don’t deserve it.


The story continues in verses 21 and 22 with the confirmation of David.


(21) So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. (22) Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.”


Here the scene shifts  from David as a picture of Christ to the way God works in the circumstances of our lives.


Look how beautifully God is working in this situation: We think of David as a great king – and he was. But the first part of his life was spent as a “country boy” literally. Before he could hold his own in royal surroundings he had to be trained and equipped. And God saw to it that he got exactly the training that he needed. And notice: this was God’s doing, not David’s. God opened a door to the palace without David even having to knock – obviously God had changed Saul’s heart. But when we take matters into our own hands and try to open doors for ourselves we usually mess it up. Does this mean that we should not plan for the future, “Just let nature takes its course?” No, but the biblical pattern is in Psalm 37: 3 through 7 – “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will direct your paths. A. W. Pink, A revered bible teacher in the early 20th century, said, “the feverish activities of natural zeal only raise a cloud of dust which conceals from us the beauties of divine providence.”


Now we have seen “the calling of David;” “the coming of David” and “the confirmation of David.” And finally, in verse 23 we find The comfort by David


(23) And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp  and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him.   


Here is another illustration of God’s power. It was not David’s musical ability that made Saul well, nor was there any magic power in the music. But David and the harp were both simply instruments of that God used in restoring Saul. And they form a good illustration of a spiritual principle about cooperation in ministry, which many years later the apostle Paul would incorporate in the New Testament in First Corinthians 3: 6


I planted, Apollos, watered, and God gave the increase.”


There is one final application to draw from all of this: when David first received the call from Saul he probably hoped it would be to serve as a warrior. But here he is serving as a musician instead. But nonetheless, he faithfully did what was laid before him to do, as in I Corinthians 4:2


And this was one of the secrets of his success In life.


Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.


Isn’t it fascinating how God weaved the fabric of David’s  life together to accomplish His purposes? But David is not the only one He does it for – His plan for you is just as intricate. Don’t ever think that anything is “just by luck or “by accident.”






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