Discussion Starters, 1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 24

There is a line in a hymn, often sung at Advent, that refers to Jesus as “great David’s greater Son”.

What was so great about David?

Why is Jesus referred to as ‘David’s Son’?

In what ways is Jesus ‘greater’ than David?

1 Sam 16:1 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.”

1 Sam 16:2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’

‘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)

1 Sam 16:3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

1 Sam 16:4 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?”

1 Sam 16:5 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.

1 Sam 16:6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

1 Sam 16:7 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 man looks at. Man looks at 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

1 Sam 16:8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.”

1 Sam 16:9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.”

1 Sam 16:10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.”

1 Sam 16:11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

1 Sam 16:12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

1 Sam 16:13 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 upon David in power. Samuel then 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).

1 Sam 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

1 Sam 16:15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.

1 Sam 16:16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.”

1 Sam 16:17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

1 Sam 16:18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

1 Sam 16:19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”

1 Sam 16:20 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.

1 Sam 16:21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.

1 Sam 16:22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

1 Sam 16:23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.


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