THE ANOINTING OF DAVID as King over Israel (1 Sam. 16:1–13), even though his enthronement is years away, is full of interest.
(1) Sometimes prophets and preachers are slower to let go of a bad leader than God Almighty (1 Sam. 16:1). This is not because we are more compassionate than God, but because inertia or nostalgia or personal bonds of affection blind us to the sheer damage the leader is doing. For all his compassion, God is never blinded.
(2) Saul was elevated to the throne by God's sanction. Is he so foolish as to think that he can outwit God in order to keep it? It is terribly sad to find Samuel afraid to anoint the next king, because Saul will kill anyone, even a prophet of God, who threatens a dynasty that God himself has declared will never be established.
(3) Saul had looked very promising when he was first elevated to the throne. Now Samuel thinks he can detect kingly material in the sons of Jesse—Eliab, for instance, the firstborn. But God says, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
This is a lesson that must be learned afresh, especially in our day, for our day loves images more than reality. Even some preachers devote more thought to how "to dress for success" and how to develop a compelling and authoritative voice than they do to maintaining a pure heart.
(4) The most important factor in the life and service of David is that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him "in power" (1 Sam. 16:13). This is the regular experience of those prophets, priests, kings, and a few other leaders, who were given special roles under the terms of the old covenant. However difficult it is to be discerning in such matters, one cannot say too often or too loudly that what the church needs are leaders with unction—a word favored by the Puritans. It simply means "anointing," i.e., an anointing by the Spirit. Is that too much to ask, in an age when under the terms of the new covenant all of the covenant people of God receive the Spirit poured out at Pentecost?
(5) Those who know their Bibles cannot help but feel a thrill of excitement at the simple words of verse 12. There the Lord tells Samuel with respect to David, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one." Indeed, David was the one. Here are the inauspicious beginnings of a major new step in the history of redemption, one that leads directly to David's most eminent descendant—and his Lord.
1 Samuel 16; Romans 14; Lamentations 1; Psalm 32