A tale of two hearts

1 Samuel 16:1-13 SCC 1/18/15


We all are to be servants. Throughout the Old Testament there is a title "the servant of the Lord."  It is the highest title that anyone can have. Moses was the servant of the Lord.  Joshua was the servant of the Lord. David was the servant of the Lord.  Even the Messiah is the servant of the Lord. The expression describes the faithful believer who is loyal to the spirit of the Law as well as to the letter of the Law. To catch a glimpse of what it means to be a servant of the Lord, look at the life of King David, the man after God's own heart, and see him in contrast to King Saul.  King Saul had an auspicious beginning, chosen by God to be king in Israel.  Saul was a mighty warrior, every inch a king.  But God replaced Saul with David.  And according to the Scripture, God called David "my servant." He never called Saul that; Saul never rose to that level.  What is it that made David a true servant? 



Our first contrast is in the account of Davidís being anointed to be king after Saul had been rejected.

Saul would have perceived Samuelís act of anointing another man king as treason v2-3. Evidently Samuel had gained a reputation as an executioner since he had killed Agag v 4. Samuel came to Jesse to anoint the son whom the Lord had chosen v 5Samuel judged Jesseís sons by their external qualities just as the Israelites judged Saul acceptable because of those characteristics v 6. Verse 7 clarifies how God evaluates people, namely, on the basis of their hearts (affections), not their appearances or abilities.


Jesse paraded all his sons in front of the prophet, but none of them impressed v 8-10It is unusual that Jesse did not have David present for Samuelís inspection since he too was one of his sons. This may suggest that Jesse did not think as highly of David as he did of his other sons (Psalm 27:10 where David wrote of his parents forsaking him). Was David a neglected or even an abused child that his father viewed more as hired help than as a son? Jesse reveals two very common mistakes parents make. (1) he didnít have an equal appreciation for all of his children. And (2), he failed to cultivate a mutual self-respect among them. Jesse saw his youngest as nothing more than the one who tended the sheep v 11.


Finally, the other son, David, was summoned from taking care of the sheep v12. Unlike Saul he was not an impressive warrior, head and shoulders above everyone else, but a ruddy youth. But David was the "man after God's own heart"--the one that the Lord chose. So then, what was there that the Lord saw in the heart of this young man? We get our first clue after David was anointed. The prophet anointed David in the presence of his brothers, and the Holy Spirit came upon him from that day forward v 13


PT: What does it mean to be a person after Godís own heart? It means that you are a person whose life is in harmony with the Lord. What is important to Him is important to you. What burdens Him burdens you. When He says, ĎGo to the right,í you go to the right. When He says, ĎStop that in your life,í you stop it. When He says, ĎThis is wrong and I want you to change,í you change it.


What an amazing opportunity to step into the spotlight, to seize the power!  The Lord Himself said, "He is the one!" v 12.Imagine, the King of Israel! With all his brothers looking on! But David went back to take care of the sheep at Bethlehem (1 Sam 17:15), even after Saul had sent for him to be with him and play for him. Rather than go and assume the crown, David simply returned to his responsibility of taking care of the sheep.  God had something great for Him to do, but he had his responsibilities to perform, and he would wait for the Lord to place him in that position of power.


In contrast to Saul we see a man who is a humble servant, obedient to the Lord. In fact, Saul early on in his reign usurped the duties of Samuel 13:11-12, but David remained obedient to the Lord.  He was not presumptuous. We have many King Saul's--people who serve God, but who get carried away with their own importance, promote their own authority, and are always overstepping their bounds to seize power for themselves. And they usually leave a trail of destruction, using and hurting people along the way. This is not spiritual leadership but pagan power.


So, genuine humility is the foundation of service to God.  We have a pattern recorded in Philippians 2, that Jesus, being in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a thing to be grasped. He emptied Himself. That is the mind we are to have.  The servant cannot be greater than the master, and the master emptied himself. Verse 13 records Samuelís departure for his home in Ramah. At this point in the book he becomes a minor figure who no longer plays an active role in the progress of events. His anointing of David was the climax and capstone of his career.



Saul had no idea of what had taken place. He does not know Samuel has designated and anointed David as his replacement, or that the Spirit, which God had given him, has now been given to David v13. What he does know is that things are very different than they were. He never sees Samuel again 15:35. He does not sense the Lordís presence and power, through the Spirit v14. He does experience a very different spiritual phenomenon though. An ďevil spirit from GodĒ now comes upon Saul, terrorizing him v 14. He seems to have spells terrorized by this spirit and times that are more normal v 15.


Saulís servants believe that soothing music will have a beneficial effect on Saul, and they recommend he find a man skilled at playing the harp so that when the spirit overtakes him, the musician can play soothing music and calm his troubled spirit v 16-18. Saul approves of this idea and summons David. The request is made of Jesse, since David still lives under his roof v19. From Saulís words spoken to Jesse, it is evident that Saul is aware of Davidís role as the sheepherder as well. Jesse sends David, along with gifts of food, to the king where David begins to serve as the kingís attendant v 20-22. Every time the evil spirit from God tormented Saul, it would depart when David played music for Saul v 23.


Why would God send ďan evil spiritĒ to torment Saul?

Satan and demons can do nothing without Godís permission. Job suffered at the hand of Satan, only because God allowed it. So the author could speak of this here as ďan evil spirit from the Lord.Ē This may not be all that different from what we find in the New Testament. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simonís son, that he should betray Jesus Jn 13:2. And after Judas took the piece of bread Satan entered into him Jn 13:27.


This evil spirit may have been a demon that afflicted him periodically. In any case Saulís evil bent was by the permission and plan of God. Just because God uses something does not means he approves of it. God used the Godless empires of Babylon and Egypt to carry out His work, but that did not mean that He approved of them. God will use the antichrist during the Tribulation and Satan at the end of the Millennium. That does not mean he approves of them. Instruments of God included false prophets. God used Nebuchadnezzarís divination and Davidís lying. Why do you think God did that? I donít know but again, donít confuse what God uses with what pleases God. The bottom line is that God is sovereign, and nothing takes place that is contrary to His divine purpose and plan. An evil spirit can torment a man only because God allows it, and in that sense, it could be said that it is ďan evil spirit from the Lord.Ē



This story of how David first met Saul and how he came to the royal court tells us something about how God works and our inability to know the details of that.

1. David did not engineer it. David was no ruthlessly ambitious man, determined to rise up the social ladderóany more than Saul himself had been. Davidís hands were clean. He was tending sheep not ambitious to be a king. God swoops right in and does what he specializes. How could he know that?

2. God overruled to bring David to court through the sheer chance that one of Saulís courtiers knew something about him and brought him to Saulís attention [cf. Joseph]. So it was God, not David, who was responsible for the young manís first steps towards the throne. How could he know that?


We also learn something about the character of God we are to pursue.

Humility is the root of virtue. The question is, where does virtue come from? What is its ultimate source? Pride says, ďMan.Ē Humility says, ďGod.Ē Humble people see God as the source and themselves as a channel of power. Humility sees people as distributors (channels rather than sources or reservoirs) of the glory of God. The best good there could ever be is to display the glory of God. David was humble thus a man after Gods own heart.


Pride is the root of all evil. It is about pride that the Bible differs most sharply with the world. The world may agree that theft, murder, adultery, and drunkenness are wrong. Unbelievers may even admit to such vices. But I've never heard an unbeliever say his sin was pride. Pride is independence from God. To be proud is to focus on your status or achievements or those of others--independent of God. You cannot be proud and know God. Why does the world stress pride over humility? Because pride succeeds in this life. Humility succeeds in the next life. Remember the fall of Satan was pride. There is no such thing as good pride. No one will ever be proud in heaven. Why would we think it is valuable on earth? God opposes the proud.