In our Bible study tonight we looked at 1 Samuel 16:1-13, the account of David’s anointing to be king by the prophet Samuel and a vivid reminder that God ‘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) The story involves many people: the prophet Samuel, the king Saul and Jesse and his family, a reminder to us that God chooses to work with and through ordinary people! He does not have to do this, but the fact that He chooses to work in partnership with us is one of the great miracles of a life of faith.
The fact that Israel had begged for a king instead of living under God’s rule was a source of sorrow to Samuel, and the fact that Saul (the first king) had proved so unfit to rule because of his disobedience and impatience had deeply grieved Samuel, as the opening verse in this chapter indicates. But God was ready to move on; sometimes, we need His word to us to move us from the place of grief and lament. God had another job for Samuel, to anoint a new king, and Samuel faced this with not inconsiderable fear. Faith is not an absence of fear, but choosing to be obedient even when we are afraid. The key to Samuel’s success is found in 1 Samuel 16:4: ‘Samuel did what the Lord had said.’
God did not tell Samuel everything at once; He directed him to Jesse’s family, but there was a period of uncertainty after each of his sons was presented to Samuel and no further direction was heard. It was only when the youngest son was brought in that Samuel heard God’s voice: ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’ (1 Samuel 16:12) It can be hard to wait for the word of the Lord, but it is this word which transforms situations. David was to become Israel’s greatest king: how much do we owe to Samuel for his faithful obedience to God?!