The Unlikely King

1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
     In the Bible, we often find God choosing the most unexpected individuals to fulfill His purposes. The story of David's anointing as king (1 Samuel 16:1-13) is a prime example of how God's ways are not always aligned with human expectations. This blog post will explore the lessons we can learn from this remarkable event and how it relates to our lives today.
     In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel was tasked by God to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the future king of Israel. As Samuel observed the impressive physical stature and appearance of David's older brothers, he naturally assumed that one of them would be God's chosen king. However, God's response to Samuel's initial assessment is profound: "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV). This passage reveals a fundamental truth about God's perspective. While human beings often judge others based on external factors such as physical appearance, social status, or worldly accomplishments, God is concerned with the inner character and motivations of a person's heart. The heart, in this context, refers to the core of a person's being – their thoughts, desires, and intentions.
     Throughout the Bible, we see numerous examples of God choosing and using individuals who were overlooked or dismissed by others due to their outward appearance or circumstances. For instance, God chose Gideon, the least of his family, to lead Israel to victory against the Midianites (Judges 6:15), and He selected Mary, a humble young woman from Nazareth, to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of inward purity and righteousness over external appearances. In Matthew 23:25-28, He rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, saying, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. ... You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." This teaching highlights the fact that true righteousness is not merely a matter of outward compliance with religious rules and traditions, but rather a transformation of the heart that leads to genuine love for God and others (Matthew 22:37-40).
     As believers, we are called to cultivate a heart that is wholly devoted to God, one that is characterized by humility, integrity, and a desire to please Him above all else. In Psalm 51:10, David himself prayed, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." This should be our prayer as well, recognizing that God is always more interested in the state of our hearts than our external appearances or achievements.
     When Samuel arrived at Jesse's house to anoint one of his sons, David was not even considered initially. As the youngest and least significant of the brothers, David was relegated to the humble task of tending sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). However, it was this overlooked shepherd boy whom God had chosen to lead His people. This narrative is not an isolated incident in Scripture. In fact, God consistently demonstrates His power and wisdom by selecting the lowly, despised, and marginalized to accomplish His plans. As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."
     One of the most significant aspects of David's anointing as king was the presence of God that came upon him. As 1 Samuel 16:13 states, "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 powerfully upon David." This divine presence was not a one-time event but a continuous reality that shaped David's life and ministry. The power of God's presence in David's life was evident in the many successes and victories he experienced. One of the most notable examples is David's triumph over Goliath, the Philistine giant (1 Samuel 17). Despite his youth and lack of military experience, David faced Goliath with unwavering confidence in God's power and deliverance. As he declared to the giant, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45).
     David's success was not limited to his military exploits. Even before he became king, David's time in Saul's court was marked by the evident presence of God in his life. As 1 Samuel 16:21-23 recounts, David's skillful playing of the lyre would bring relief to Saul when he was tormented by an evil spirit. This ability to bring peace and comfort was a direct result of the Spirit of God upon David. As believers in Christ, we too have access to the power of God's presence through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul exhorts us to "be filled with the Spirit," indicating that the presence of God should be a continuous reality in our lives, not just a one-time experience. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to live in a manner that honors God and reflects His character.
     One of the clearest evidences of the Holy Spirit's presence in a believer's life is the fruit of the Spirit, as described in Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These qualities are not the result of human effort alone but are produced by the Spirit's transforming work within us. The power of God's presence is not only for our personal benefit but also for the sake of others. Just as David's anointing enabled him to bring deliverance and peace to Israel, we too are called to be conduits of God's presence in the world around us. Jesus Himself declared that His followers would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, enabling them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
     One of the most important lessons we can learn from the life of David is the significance of trusting in God's sovereignty. Despite the numerous challenges and adversities David faced, he consistently demonstrated a deep trust in God's plan and protection. David's life was marked by significant opposition, particularly from King Saul. In 1 Samuel 18:10-11, we read that Saul, filled with jealousy and anger, attempted to kill David by hurling a spear at him. This incident was not isolated, as Saul continued to pursue David and seek his harm. However, in the face of this persistent danger, David did not rely on his own strength or cunning but instead trusted in God's protection and deliverance.
     Throughout the Psalms, David eloquently expresses his unwavering trust in God's sovereignty. In Psalm 18:2-3, he declares, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies." David's confidence in God's power and protection allowed him to face his challenges with courage and faith. David's trust in God's sovereignty was not based on a guarantee of easy or trouble-free living. In fact, David experienced numerous hardships, including betrayal, loss, and personal failure. However, he understood that God's plans and purposes were ultimately good and that God was working all things together for the benefit of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
     The ultimate example of trusting in God's sovereignty is found in the life and ministry of Jesus. In Luke 22:42, as Jesus faced the agony of the cross, He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Despite the immense suffering He knew He would endure, Jesus submitted Himself fully to the Father's plan, trusting in the ultimate redemptive purpose of His sacrifice. As followers of Christ, we are called to emulate this same trust in God's sovereignty. This does not mean that we will be exempt from trials, pain, or difficult circumstances. However, it does mean that we can face these challenges with the assurance that God is in control and that He is working all things together for our good and His glory. Trusting in God's sovereignty requires a daily surrender of our own plans, desires, and expectations. It means acknowledging that God's ways are higher than our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). It involves a willingness to step out in faith, even when the path ahead is uncertain or unclear.
1. David's anointing as king demonstrates that God looks at the heart, not outward appearances. This principle is echoed throughout Scripture, such as in Matthew 23:25-28, where Jesus emphasizes the importance of inward purity over external righteousness. In what ways can we cultivate a heart that is wholly devoted to God, characterized by humility, integrity, and a desire to please Him above all else?

2. Throughout the Bible, God consistently chooses unlikely individuals, such as David, Gideon, Moses, and Mary, to accomplish His divine purposes. These examples underscore the truth that God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). How can the principle of God choosing the unlikely encourage believers, regardless of their background, abilities, or social standing, to trust and follow Him?

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