David Chosen as Israel's Second King (1 Samuel 16)

The prophet Samuel has just been informed that the reign of Saul as Israel';s first king is about to end because he had fallen out of favor with God. As 1 Samuel 15:35 reports: “The Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.”

But God had already picked out a replacement for Saul, and He called Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint that man. Samuel followed God';s instructions to the letter, traveling to Bethlehem and finding a man named Jesse, who had a son who would one day replace Saul.

Samuel met with Jesse';s first seven sons, but God let him know that none of them was the one He had chosen to be Israel';s second king. Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these” (1 Samuel 16:10). But Jesse had one more son — his youngest — who was out tending his father';s sheep and goats. When David arrived, the Lord told Samuel, “This is the one; anoint him” (16:12).

The stage was set for David to become Israel';s second — and greatest — king. But before that would happen, David would serve in Saul';s court as a musician. King Saul was tormented by a spirit, filling him with depression and fear. Some of his servants suggested that they find a good musician to play the harp so that he could be soothed.

Saul agreed, and his servants told him “One of Jesse';s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that — he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18).

One important theme of the Bible — that God looks at the heart and not at outward appearance — is demonstrated in this story: “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don';t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn';t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart';” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Saul agreed to have David come, and not only did he play the harp for Saul, he also became his armor bearer.

But in time, David would replace Saul in the minds of the people as their leader. That change would start as David faced down and defeated what appeared to be an impossible military challenge.

Study Questions

Where was Samuel to find David, and how would he know who he was?

Who did Samuel initially think would be David';s replacement and what did God say about that man? (See 1 Samuel 16:6–7..)

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