Text: 1 Samuel 16:1-22
There is a habit, in the Old Testament, of individuals ascribing a name to God that describes something that he has done, or something he has revealed about himself.
I think it the first instance of this is Hagar, who in Gen 16:13 names him as ‘The God who sees me’.
Elsewhere, God is name as the Lord
- who provides
- our peace
- my banner
- who heals
- my shepherd
Let’s take a similar approach with our Bible passage this morning. After all, who is the hero? Not Saul, Samuel, or David; but God.
1. The God of new beginnings, 1-5
V1 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.”
Samuel may have run out of ideas, but God hasn’t! He is about to do a new thing, to anoint a new king – a man after his own heart.
There is a decisive newness in Christ: a new Adam, a new Moses, a new David.
But also those who are in Christ:
‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Cor 5:17)
‘He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ (1 Peter 1:3)
‘O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wonderful things’ (Psalm 98:1)
Because he is a God of new beginnings, there is nowhere you have been, nothing you have done, from which there is not a way back to him.
2. The God of unexpected choices, 6-13
v6 Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
v7 ‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’
Samuel makes his way to Bethlehem. There is an identity parade. Beginning with Eliab, the most obvious candidate. Then Abinadab, then Shammah. But none of these is God’s chosen king.
What God was looking for was a man after his own heart, 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22.
And so little David is brought in. He is the one God has chosen!
What of ‘great David’s greater Son’? To human eyes, he was a very unlikely candiate:
Jesus: John 1:46 – ‘He’s from Nazareth!’
Mark 6:3 – ‘He’s just a carpenter!’
Matthew 11:19 – ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard!’
Matthew 27:42 – ‘He’s the wrong kind of Messiah!’
But he heavenly Father declared: ‘you are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’ (Mark 1:11).
So it is, again with those who follow Christ:
1 Cor 1:26 ‘Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.’
This is not to say that God despises either nobility or ability.
Selena, Countess of Huntingdon, thanked God it says ‘Not many’, rather than ‘not any’.
And David was a gifted poet, a skilful musician, a brave soldier, a charismatic leader, and a faithful friend.
But ‘not how you look, but what you are, ought to be the first care of your lives’ (Taylor)
3. The God of patient preparation, 14-22
V21 ‘David came to Saul and entered his service’
How many struggle with impatience? Luther: ‘I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.’
God sometimes acts quickly; but he is never in a hurry.
How long did God take to prepare:
- a world fit for human habitation? (13.8 billion years!)
- a land his people could call their own? (600 years!)
- a king ‘after his own heart’?
It would be another 15 years or so before David was recognised as king by the people.
In fact, God had had been preparing him from birth onwards:
You brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (Psa 22:9f)
Again, we are taught that Jesus was prepared for his own ministry:
Luke 2:52 ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’
And God’s people are being prepared to. Nothing that happens to us is outside his gracious and sovereign plan:
Hebrews 12:11 – God’s discipline ‘produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’
As a workman might chisel and shape a stone so that it can fit high up on a building, so God is shaping us to serve him, both here and hereafter.