1 Samuel 16

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Read 1 Samuel 16

Samuel Anoints David

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

David in Saul’s Service

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Go Deeper

1 Samuel 16 tells us the story of how David came to be anointed as king in place of Saul. Jesse presents his sons to Samuel in order of his assumption of who was most likely to be chosen. In their culture, men divided the privilege, power and wealth of their households to their sons according to their birth order, so Jesse leans into his culture’s values and perspectives when choosing who to present to Samuel for his consideration, and in what order. 

Initially, Samuel seemed more concerned with physical stature and appearances. In his defense, experience must have taught him that physical strength, the potential for military prowess, and leadership were important qualities to look for in a king. David was the youngest and so far off his father’s radar of “king-potential” that he wasn’t even invited to attend the feast to begin with, yet he is who God had chosen. This story is a poignant reminder to us that not only can God see things in us (and in others) that we cannot, but these hidden things are how God judges us (and others) and our suitability for different types of service within His Kingdom and for His purposes.

In this story, David is a foreshadowing of Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone and head of the Church. He is also the stone that the builders rejected. He is the great shepherd, and we are His sheep. Jesus arrived on the scene and died at the hands of, rather than overthrow an oppressive government. In humility, He emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.

Let us be encouraged by David’s example. Let us focus on what matters: Inner transformation and God’s assessment of us. We don’t need to look impressive to others–God sees us in obscurity and His perspective is sovereign. Let us be warned by Samuel’s and Jesse’s example: We should not assume that our values and perspectives (or our experiences) are necessarily true. If it isn’t of God, it isn’t true. 

Let us emulate and celebrate Christ’s example that Paul wrote about in Philippians 2:3-6: “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


  1. In what ways can you relate to David? Do you ever feel passed over or forgotten? What do you think his encouragement to you would be? 
  2. In what ways can you relate to Jesse or Samuel? What do you think Jesse and Samuel’s warning to you would be? 
  3. Not only is Jesus the embodiment of a Great Shepherd and Good King, but His life, death, and resurrection make it possible for us to be transformed into His likeness. We often focus on all the change that still needs to happen, but today Reflect on the ways you’ve seen God transform your life as you walk with Him. Spend some time in gratitude for His work in your life.

Watch This

If you haven’t yet, make sure you watch a recent sermon series from Harris Creek called The Shepherd in the Psalm. It is based on David’s most famous psalm and is about God (His shepherd). It is inspired by his own experiences shepherding his father’s flock. God’s sovereign wisdom in preparing David for influence, responsibility, and kingship through shepherding has been a blessing to us and believers around the world for thousands of years. How might God use your “shepherding season”?

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2 thoughts on “1 Samuel 16”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    When the Lord looks at my heart, what does he see? Is the fruit of the Spirit seen? As a Christ-follower is my life marked with genuine love and humility? Are the 2 greatest commandments evidenced in my life, loving the Lord with my whole heart, soul, mind & strength and loving my neighbor as myself? I long for a genuine, authentic faith that displays his likeness & glory. “He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30

  2. People have mistakenly called me David in the past and I have even received mail addressed to a Jason David rather than Jason Dowd. I have had many opportunities where I should have slayed a giant, but instead, shrank in fear thinking that I always need to be nice rather than live like a warrior. I believe God is calling me to be a warrior and sometimes that can get a little messy. Then so be it. For if God is calling me to do it, he will meet me there to empower me and carry it out to completion. I just need to not cave in as Saul did to his men and turn from the Lord’s commands. I want to be known as Jason the Warrior not Jason the Coward for there is no glory for anyone in the latter. It’s time I start trusting the voice of the Lord and becoming obedient to it. For my sake and for the sake of those that come after me.

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