The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. – I Samuel 16: 1-13
The ripples of Saul’s rebellion have left the prophet Samuel sad and disoriented. At the beginning of the passage, God encourages Samuel to rest from his grieving. What are you grieving today? Talk with God about what might bring you comfort.
What else do you notice about Samuel’s relationship with the Lord? What is the last thing you heard from God? How hard or easy is it for you to hear from God? Talk to God about the growth you’d like to experience in this area.
In what ways was David not the stereotypical candidate to be king? What qualities did David have that would make him a godly king? Consider your own story, personality, physical characteristics, skills and talents, education, and experience. What pieces of who you are make you a likely candidate to seek after God? Ask the Spirit to show you what God sees when he looks at you. Sit quietly and wait for God to speak to you.
God instructed Samuel to look past appearances and directly into David’s heart. What did Samuel see when he did this? How would you describe your heart to someone who was interested in knowing you at that level?
Imagine yourself as a part of this story. Are you one of the older brothers being passed over? Are you David running in from the field wondering what the emergency is? Are you Samuel trying to discern God’s voice? What do you see or feel from placing yourself in the different perspectives?
After his anointing, the Spirit of the Lord came on David in power. What do you think that experience was like for David? Do you experience the Spirit of God at work in your life? If you sense any resistance, talk to God about that too.
David may have become a king of Israel and a forefather of Jesus, but he was far from perfect. His story includes some great triumphs but maybe more rock bottom moments. Scripture, though, proudly describes him to us as “a man after God’s own heart.”
Despite his many (and monumental!) sins, David made a life-shaping decision to follow God, and he never gave up – not even in the face of mortal danger or utter failure. His goal was to be a student of God’s heart and he gave his life to it.
You, too, are invited to become a person after God’s own heart. Be encouraged! Today is the perfect day to begin, or to begin again, on your journey towards God’s heart. Don’t let a recent failure, your age, your story, your perceived inability, or anything else keep you from it.