Message Prep: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Saul had been rejected as king not once, but twice, for jumping the gun and taking shortcuts when it came to God’s will. For Samuel, this represented a grave failure. Saul had been God’s anointed. What would Samuel, Israel, and God do now?

1 Samuel 16 marks the beginning of the transition of power from Saul to the man God had chosen, the one after His own heart, who would lead Israel into the future. There were a couple of things that had to be done before that transition could happen, though, and those things are the subject of the first thirteen verses of the chapter at hand. But what were they?

Well, before anything else could happen, God needed Samuel to get over Saul’s sin. Notice the wording there. Samuel was the one who was stuck on Saul’s sin. In God’s eyes, Saul had been rejected and was therefore a non-issue. And as far as the sin was concerned, God had known all about Saul’s decisions before the beginning of time, and He had crafted His plan for history from the beginning to account for them. The problem, then, was Samuel’s. Indeed, in 15:35, we see that Samuel “mourned for” Saul. He mourned the king’s decisions. He mourned the king’s rejection by God. He mourned the king’s fellowship which was now gone. And his mourning had put the prophet on the sidelines. At the beginning of chapter 16, then, God tapped Samuel on the shoulder and said, in essence, “Hey, it’s time to move on.”

We need to be willing to move past past failure and sin if we’re going to continue to pursue God’s will in the present and future.

For Samuel, that meant going in search of the next king of Israel, even before the first king was actually removed from power. It was an act of treason, punishable by death, but that threat could at least be mitigated by carefully keeping the entire operation secret. The bigger problem was Samuel’s ideas and preconceptions. You see, like most humans, Samuel thought the king would likely be the tallest, strongest, handsomest, smartest, most eloquent, most popular, most likely candidate he could find. So, after God narrowed the search to the city of Bethlehem and the family of Jesse, Samuel still assumed it would be Jesse’s eldest son. But Eliab’s heart wasn’t right. Nor was the chosen one Abinadab, Shammah, or any of the other four that were gathered at Jesse’s home. Rather, it was the youngest, a simple shepherd whose dark complexion and rough skin were handsome… for an ordinary person.

Sometimes, the people God chooses to use aren’t exactly the “likely candidates.” Sometimes, they’re just regular, ordinary people who are simply willing to do what God wants them to do. And sometimes, they’re actually just about the last people you or I would choose. We need to look past the surface to the person’s heart to find God’s candidate for a job.

And finally, when Samuel found David and realized that he was God’s choice to be king, Samuel had to anoint him. Practically speaking, it was simply dumping some oil on the boy’s head. But this simple act was symbolic of something much more. It was Samuel acknowledging that God was still in control. God still had a plan. And Samuel and Israel were going to pursue that plan, regardless of the past failure and sin.

When we fail and/or sin, it is essential that we get up and press on in our pursuit of God’s will. Sometimes, that will mean getting right back on the same horse and trying again to do the same thing to which we were called before. Other times, though, it might mean doing something different. In Samuel’s case, he was to change horses and anoint David. It was different than before, but it was still God’s plan.

So, there you have it. Some preliminary thoughts on the passage before us this Sunday. Now I have to go free my kids from the back room.


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