Samuel Anoints David as King, 1-13

16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long do you intend to mourn for Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with olive oil and go! I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem, for I have selected a king for myself from among his sons.”
16:2 Samuel replied, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!” But the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 16:3 Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you should do. You will anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

‘If any surprise be felt at the offering of sacrifice, in a place other than that appointed in the Mosaic law, the explanation is to be found in the fact that the ark of the covenant of the Lord was not at this time in the Tabernacle, but in the city of Kirjathjearim, and so the Tabernacle had ceased for the present to be the only place of the nation’s worship.’ (Taylor)

16:4 Samuel did what the LORD told him. When he arrived in Bethlehem, the elders of the city were afraid to meet him. They said, “Do you come in peace?” 16:5 He replied, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” So he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
16:6 When they arrived, Samuel noticed Eliab and said to himself, “Surely, here before the LORD stands his chosen king!” 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Things are not always what they seem. I read somewhere: ‘I’ve always loved the story of the cowboy who was riding along and came upon an Indian lying flat on the ground with his ear pressed to the earth. The Indian said, “Wait. Wagon. Two miles off. Drawn by two horses. One black. The other gray. Four people on board: man in a red flannel shirt, his wife, and two kids.”

The cowboy was very impressed. He said, “It’s amazing how you can tell all that just by listening to the earth.”

The Indian said, “No. They ran over me thirty minutes ago. Go after them!”‘

Saul was noted for his stature and appearance, 1 Sam 9:2; 1 Sam 10:23. ‘It was strange that Samuel, who had been so wretchedly disappointed in Saul, whose countenance and stature recommended him as much as any mans could, should be so forward to judge of a man by that rule. When God would please the people with a king he chose a comely man; but, when he would have one after his own heart, he should not be chosen by the outside. Men judge by the sight of the eyes, but God does not, Isa. 11:3.’ (MHC)

‘It makes little difference, therefore, what the outward appearance is, while, if the heart be wrong, nothing can be right…Muscularity is not Christianity, and bodily beauty is not holiness. The character, therefore, ought to be the principal object of your attention. Not how you look, but what you are, ought to be the first care of your lives; for if you have a selfish disposition, a sordid soul, or a sinful life, your outward beauty will be like “a jewel in a swine’s snout,” and your bodily vigour will only be like the strength of a safe in which nothing worth preserving is locked up. Let your aim be to be holy; and if you will only turn in faith to Jesus, and follow in the footsteps of his example, your soul will become beautiful in Jehovah’s eyes, and your life will become, even in the view of your fellow-men, bright with a glory which is not of earth.’ (Taylor)

‘Remember that God looks beyond appearance. Saul was tall and handsome; he was an impressive looking man. Samuel may have been trying to find someone who looked like Saul to be Israel’s next king, but God warned him against judging by appearance alone. When people judge by outward appearance, they may overlook individuals who lack the particular physical qualities society currently admires. But appearance doesn’t reveal what people are really like or their true value.

Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not appearances. And because only God can see on the inside, only he can accurately judge people. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner character. While everyone can see your face, only you and God know what your heart really looks like. Which is the more attractive part of you?’ (HBA)

God’s is omniscient, and looks chiefly on the heart. Therefore, study sincerity, be what you seem. 1 Sam 16:7. ‘The Lord looketh upon the heart.’ Men judge the heart by the actions, God judges the actions by the heart; if the heart be sincere, God will see the faith and bear with the failing. Asa had his blemishes, but his heart was right with God. 2 Chron 15:17. God saw his sincerity, and pardoned his infirmity. Sincerity in a Christian is like chastity in a wife, which excuses many failings. Sincerity makes our duties acceptable, like musk among linen, that perfumes it. As Jehu said to Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10:15. ‘Is thy heart right with me? And he said, It is. If it be, said he, give me thy hand; and he took him up into the chariot:’ so, if God sees our heart is right, that we love him, and design his glory, now, says he, give me your prayers and tears; now you shall come up with me into the chariot of glory. Sincerity makes our services to be golden, and God will not cast away the gold though it may want some weight. Is God omniscient, and his eye chiefly upon the heart? Wear the girdle of truth about you, and never leave it off.

See Isa. 1:11-18; Jer. 7:21-23; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6-8

16:8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one, either.” 16:9 Then Jesse presented Shammah. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 16:10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” 16:11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Is that all of the young men?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest one, but he’s taking care of the flock.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we cannot turn our attention to other things until he comes here.”
16:12 So Jesse had him brought in. Now he was ruddy, with attractive eyes and a handsome appearance. The LORD said, “Go and anoint him. This is the one!” 16:13 So Samuel took the horn full of olive oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day onward. Then Samuel got up and went to Ramah.

This circumstance may throw light on Eliab’s expression of anger and resentment in 1 Sam 17:28.

From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power – This contrasts with Saul’s empowerment by the Spirit, which was only sporadic (cf. 1 Sam 16:14).

David Appears before Saul, 13-23

16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. 16:15 Then Saul’s servants said to him, “Look, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you!” 16:16 Let our lord instruct his servants who are here before you to look for a man who knows how to play the lyre. Then whenever the evil spirit from God comes upon you, he can play the lyre and you will feel better.” 16:17 So Saul said to his servants, “Find me a man who plays well and bring him to me.” 16:18 One of his attendants replied, “I have seen a son of Jesse in Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave warrior and is articulate and handsome, for the LORD is with him.”

An evil spirit from the Lord tormented him – This need not refer to a demonic spirit.  The word lit. means ‘a tormenting spirit’, and this may refer either to the character of the spirit, or to its effect on Saul.

‘All circumstances, good and evil, pleasant or unpleasant, were seen as coming from the all-powerful Lord. The evil spirit in this instance is as likely to be a bad temper as some supernatural intervention. However, given Saul’s later uncontrollable or at least uncontrolled fits, the explanation of demon possession would be understandable.’ (Evans, UBCS)

For Bergen (NAC), ‘it is possible—and perhaps preferable—to interpret the text not to mean that the Lord sent a morally corrupt demon but rather another sort of supernatural being—an angel of judgment (cf. 2 Kgs 19:35)—against Saul that caused him to experience constant misery.’

16:19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is out with the sheep. 16:20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a container of wine, and a young goat and sent them to Saul with his son David. 16:21 David came to Saul and stood before him. Saul liked him a great deal, and he became his armor bearer. 16:22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse saying, “Let David be my servant, for I really like him.”
16:23 So whenever the spirit from God would come upon Saul, David would take his lyre and play it. This would bring relief to Saul and make him feel better. Then the evil spirit would leave him alone.