After Saul’s further rebellion against the Lord and his subsequent rejection by the LORD, Samuel was commissioned to seek out the one who would succeed Saul on the throne of Israel.
This one had already been identified as “a man after [God’s] own heart” (13:14) and “one of [Saul’s] neighbors” who was “better than” he (15:28).
David had been chosen from eternity past to be ruler of Israel.
The rejection of Saul did not force the LORD to a new course of action.
Rather, God’s action followed His omniscient plan in such a way as to use Saul’s disobedience as the human occasion for implementing His higher plan.
God had permitted the people to have the king of their choice.
Now that that king and their mistake in choosing him had been clearly manifested, God proved the superiority of His own wisdom in raising up a king who would come in fulfillment of His perfect will.
After an undetermined length of time in which Samuel lamented the rejection of Saul, the Lord commanded the prophet to go to Bethlehem to select a son of Jesse … to be king (16:1–3).
Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:18–21), and so was in the line of promise (see the chart “David’s Ancestry from Abraham”).
As the wives of Jacob gave birth to a royal house (Gen.
35:11; 49:10), so Ruth would produce the Davidic dynasty (Ruth 4:11).
God did not tell Samuel to be deceptive, but rather to combine the anointing with the business of sacrificing (1 Sam 16:2).
The elders in Bethlehem may have wondered if Samuel had come for judgment (v.
After the seven older sons of Jesse were disqualified one by one (vv.
5–10), David was singled out by the LORD and anointed by Samuel (vv. 11–13).
The anointing, as in the experience of Saul, was accompanied by the coming of the Spirit of God mightily on the young lad (v.
This was the supernatural authentication of God’s will.
Later David was anointed king over Judah (2 Sam.
2:4) and then over Israel (2 Sam.
David as Saul’s musician (16:14–23)
As David was invested by the Spirit, that same Spirit left Saul.
This is evidence of the fact that the presence or absence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament says nothing about salvation but only that His power worked in those whom God selected for service (cf.
3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6; 1 Sam.
With the departure of the Spirit of God, Saul became tormented by an evil spirit which God permitted to come (v.
15–16; 18:10; 19:9).
Whether this spirit had sinful or only harmful characteristics, it is quite certain that it was a demonic, satanic instrument (cf.
Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Kings 22:19–22).
In his troubled state Saul could find relief only in music, so he commanded that a musician be found (1 Sam.
In His providence God arranged that David be the one, so the shepherd boy was introduced to the palace of the king (vv.
The Holy Spirit empowered David to drive away the evil spirit that overwhelmed Saul (v.
Harps had already been mentioned in connection with prophesying (10:5).
Later Elisha, when seeking a revelation from the Lord, also requested that a harp be played (2 Kings 3:15).
Also Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun prophesied with harps, lyres, and cymbals (1 Chron.
David’s triumph over Goliath (chap.
Sometime after David commenced his role of court musician, Israel was again in peril at the hands of the Philistines.
The armies were drawn up on opposite sides of the Valley of Elah, a few miles southwest of Jerusalem (vv.
Apparently intimidated by each other, they decided that the outcome should be determined by a contest of champions who would engage each other in combat.
The Philistines offered Goliath, a giant (about 9’9” tall!), but Israel could find no one worthy, not even Saul (vv.
Goliath wore a bronze helmet and a coat of scale armor weighing 5,000 shekels, that is, about 125 pounds, and bronze greaves.
He was armed with a bronze javelin, and a long spear with a 15-pound iron tip! (v.
7) At last David heard of the dilemma and, having been sent to the camp of Israel with provisions for his brothers (vv.
12–22), begged Saul to let him take on the Philistine (vv.
Reluctantly Saul agreed and David, armed only with his confidence in God, a sling, and five smooth stones, slew Goliath and brought back his severed head in triumph (vv.
When the conflict was over, Saul inquired as to the identity of the young warrior and learned that he was David, son of Jesse (vv.
Why could not Saul recognize David, who had already served him for some time as musician and armor-bearer?
One answer is that Saul was not asking who David was but for the first time was curious about David’s family connections: Whose son is that young man?
v. 25) When David himself was interrogated he did not say, “I am David,” but only, I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem (v.
Another and perhaps better solution is that David’s previous service had been brief and intermittent and now several years had passed since Saul had last seen him.
If, for example, David had been only 12 years old when he came as Saul’s musician and had stayed off and on for only a year or so, he might have been 17 or 18 by the time of the Philistine episode and no longer recognizable to Saul.
This view is strengthened by the fact that after David joined himself to Saul this time, the king “did not let him return to his father’s house” (v.
This implies that David’s previous tenure had not been permanent.
In any event, one need not posit two sources for chapters 16 and 17 or view the accounts as irreconcilable.
2. ON UNFRIENDLY TERMS (CHAPS.
a. David’s flight from Saul (chaps.
(1) David’s popularity.
David, as has been seen, was not only chosen from eternity to be the founder of the messianic dynasty of kings, but he was also providentially prepared by the Lord to undertake his royal responsibilities.
David had served as a shepherd in the fields and had the loving, protective heart of a shepherd, a fitting attribute of a king.
He had learned responsibility and courage by confronting and slaying wild beasts that threatened his flock (17:34–36).
He had learned to play the harp, a skill that would make him sensitive to the aesthetic side of life and that would help him compose the stirring psalms which extol the Lord and celebrate His mighty exploits.
David had been brought into the palace of the king as musician and warrior so that he might acquire the experience of statecraft.
Though an uninitiated novice at the time of his anointing, he was eminently equipped to be king of Israel at his coronation some 15 years later.
But his education was not always pleasant.
With his rising popularity among the people came a deterioration of his relationship with Saul, for the king became insanely jealous of Israel’s new hero.
After David’s dramatic victory over Goliath, Saul brought him into his palace once again, this time as a commander of his army (18:5).
David’s favored position in the court was further strengthened by the personal affection felt for him by Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son (vv. 1, 3).
So close did this friendship become that Jonathan, though heir apparent to the throne of Israel (cf.
20:31), stripped himself of his own royal regalia and placed it on David in recognition of David’s divine election to be king (18:4; cf.
More than once the covenant of friendship between the two men would work to David’s advantage.
Meanwhile David became so effective militarily that his exploits were celebrated in song: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.
(2) Saul’s jealousy (18:8–20:42).
So enraged was Saul at the diminishing of his glory that he, inspired by the demonic spirit (v.
16:14–16; 19:9), tried to spear David (18:10–11; 19:9–10).
But God delivered David and gave him even greater popularity (18:12–16).
When Saul then saw that he could not destroy David personally, he determined to let the Philistines kill him.
This he arranged by proposing that David marry his oldest daughter, Merab.
Saul had already reneged on one marital promise to David (17:25).
David protested, however, that he was a commoner and had no sufficient bridal price (18:25, mōhar, not “dowry” as in KJV and others).
Before anything further could develop, Merab … was given to another man (v.
Again Saul offered his second daughter, Michal, who at that time loved David (v.
20; cf. 2 Sam.
But again David argued that he was unsuitable to be a son-in-law of the king because of his low status (1 Sam.
In an act of apparent generosity Saul waived the usual bridal payment and demanded only that David kill 100 Philistines and bring back their foreskins (v.
25), a requirement he more than met by slaying 200 (v.
Saul had been hoping, of course, that the exploit would cost David his life (v.
As a result, Saul was again afraid of David (v.
vv. 12, 15).
But David became Saul’s son-in-law by marrying Michal (v.
27), and his military success and his popularity increased (v.
After an initial and successful attempt by Jonathan to soothe his father’s feelings toward David (vv.
1–7), Saul set in motion further steps to destroy David.