Samuel Anoints God’s Man
1 Samuel 16
According to 1 Samuel 15:35, Samuel mourned for Saul, and God regretted that He had made Saul king.
It is hard to understand how God, who does not repent or change His mind (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29), can regret something. In other places, Scripture speaks of God’s regret. For example, Genesis 6:6 says:
Genesis 6:6 (NKJV) And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
The rebellion, sin, and wickedness that the human race chose grieved the heart of God. God grieves over His fallen creatures.
When God gave the law through Moses, He expressed His desire that His people would choose to follow Him. First, in the preliminaries of giving the law, He says:
Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV) Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!
Next, at the end of giving the law, God says:
Deuteronomy 32:29 (NKJV) Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!
As the Father grieves over the lost, so the Son grieves over those who do not believe. When He was entering Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passion Week, Jesus said:
Matthew 23:37 (NKJV) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
As Christians, when we disobey and harden our hearts toward the Lord, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Some things are beyond our understanding. God is sovereign, and His purposes are always accomplished. Isaiah 46:10 expresses this thought.
Isaiah 46:9–11 (NKJV) 9Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ 11calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
While God’s purposes and plans are always accomplished, His will is not always done on earth. For example, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us:
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
How is it that God is not willing that any should perish and yet the perishing are all around us? How is it that Jesus longed to draw Jerusalem to Himself, but they were not willing?
It is not God’s will that women should be violated, babies should be aborted, and men should steal, hate, and kill. Yet these things happen every day. The Church has long been divided over the question of man’s freedom of choice and God’s sovereignty.
God’s pleas for us to choose life indicate that we have a choice, which is why there is evil in the world. This power to choose is why we can grieve the Holy Spirit.
Even so, God is sovereign. His purposes cannot be thwarted, and we have the promise that:
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We must not make the mistake of believing that this means all things are good. But it means God can bring good out of what is evil. God does not cause evil, nor does He tempt people to do evil.
James 1:13 (NKJV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (cf. Isaiah 45:6-7, which is a statement against dualism)
Saul’s evil heart grieved God. The Lord had given the people what they wanted, and He had warned them what would happen. God had chosen the most qualified person and gave him all he needed to be successful. God gave Saul every opportunity, but Saul was stubborn and rebellious.
However, God brought good out of it. After an unspecified time of mourning, God came to Samuel and said:
1 Samuel 16:1 (NKJV) How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.
We see a couple of things in this passage. Mourning is necessary, but eventually, it must lead to action. Saul had sinned beyond repair.
1 John 5:16 (NKJV) If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.
Saul had sinned leading to death, and Samuel was to stop praying for that. Indeed, he was instructed to take action in a different direction. God provided Himself a king and told Samuel to go and anoint the new king.
For Samuel, not only was this disappointing, it was dangerous. Saul made a show of following God, but he was hard-hearted and rebellious. So Samuel was troubled. He said:
1 Samuel 16:2 (NKJV) How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.
We see, in this statement, how far Saul had gone in his opposition to God’s Word. Several times Samuel told Saul that he had rejected the word of the Lord, and in his willingness to even kill the man of God, we see the results.
This is a picture of the battle of the flesh against the Spirit. We see a picture of Galatians 5:16-17 at work in Saul’s life.
Galatians 5:16–17 (NKJV) 16I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Saul was a huge contrast to Samuel. Samuel, as a young boy, learned to yield to the Spirit. But Saul put confidence in the flesh. In his lusting against the Spirit, Saul was capable of killing the man of God who had established him as king. We will all go the same direction if we do not yield to the Spirit and walk by the Spirit.
Having received instructions and reassurance from the Lord, Samuel set out once more to anoint a king in the name of the Lord. When Samuel approached Bethlehem, the elders of the city came out and said, “Do you come peaceably?” Saul may not have feared the Lord enough to respect Samuel, but the rest of the nation still carried a healthy respect. I wonder if they did not remember the thunderstorm Samuel had called down on the land when they had asked for a king. This fear of the Lord is a healthy thing because it recognizes the reality of both our dependence on Him and the frightful consequences of His displeasure.
Indeed, Samuel came in peace and invited them to the feast. He took special care to invite Jesse and his sons. When feast time came, Samuel insisted on accomplishing the errand the Lord sent him on before they ate. So Jesse’s sons were brought to him in birth order. When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s oldest, the Scriptures tell us:
1 Samuel 16:6 (NKJV) So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”
I can’t but imagine that, like Saul, Eliab was tall, strong, and handsome. At this point, we come to one of those passages of Scripture that we would all do well to memorize.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We are always looking at things as they appear on the surface. We must learn to look with the eyes of faith. Jesus prayed all night before choosing the twelve.
When Joshua led Israel in the invasion of Canaan, he and the nation's leaders were deceived by the people of a city called Gibeon. They made a treaty with the people of Gibeon, which God had forbidden. Having been deceived, they honored the covenant they made with the Gibeonites. The only critique God gave of the situation is found in Joshua 9:14, where it says:
Joshua 9:14 (NKJV) but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.
God suggests that if they had just asked Him, He would have made the truth clear.
We cannot see into hearts; only God can. We look on the outside and are deceived. Jeremiah 17:9-10 is instructive when it comes to the point.
Jeremiah 17:9–10 (NKJV) 9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? 10I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind.
The heart is deceitful above all things. So much so that we deceive even ourselves. However, God is not fooled. He searches the heart, and He tests the mind. We convince ourselves that we are basically good, but we all make mistakes. When the Bible says otherwise, we reject the Bible. But God looks for something in the heart. He saw that something He liked in the heart of David.
Again, we, as humans, consider this and say, “Obviously, David was pure of heart.” However, this ignores what God says about the human heart. God says none of us are pure of heart. He says:
Romans 3:10–12 (NKJV) 10There is none righteous, no, not one; 11there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 12They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.
This includes David, Moses, and Abraham, and it includes you, and me.
God tells us what He looks for in a heart!
We must assume this is what He saw in David’s heart. Isaiah 66:2 is one place where God clearly states what He is looking for in the human heart.
Isaiah 66:2 (ESV) But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Jesus repeated this same concept. In His famous “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus pointed to humble and contrite hearts when He said:
Matthew 5:3 (NKJV) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
David was a strong, confident leader of men, but in relation to God, he was humble and ready to repent when God confronted His sin. He was contrite. In contrast, Saul’s proud stubbornness grieved the heart of God, and David’s humble heart pleased the heart of God.
God has given each of us a choice. We can choose to be a Samuel or a David, or a Saul.
God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. He will give the sinner a new heart and make them a new person. But the sinner must recognize that he needs a Savior. Sinners must first give up all hopes of saving themselves and humbly, with contrite hearts, ask God to save them. To this person, God promises the joys of heaven and the riches of His presence. Because this is what it means to be a person after God’s heart.
Let me ask you today. When God looks at your heart, is he grieved or pleased?