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The Lord Looks on the Heart. 1 Samuel 16


The Lord Looks on the Heart

Where Samuel anoints the least likely boy as king!

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

When reading and speaking on the OT, some modern preachers will use a preaching method called, ‘allegory’. That’s where you take a historical narrative like this, and ‘spiritualise it’ – so that it becomes about you or me. So, they will look at the historical story of David and Goliath, and ask something like, “What’s the giant in your life? Perhaps it’s debt… What ever it is, you can defeat your own personal giant! And how did David slay the giant? With five smooth stones, so those five smooth stones become five principle to deal with distress in your life. It is a complete distortion of what the historical narrative is for. The history books of the Bible are to reveal God’s dealings with His people, in providence and redemption. Yet I can confidently tell you that the OT is about Jesus because that’s exactly what the Bible teaches us! Look at:-

  1. Jesus speaking to the Jews in John 5:38-39 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  2. The story of the men walking along the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The Old Testament is full of Christ!
  3. Christ’s words to His disciples, Luke 24:44-45 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
  4. The story of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:30-35  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Think how Christ is directly introduced, right after the fall of man, as the seed of the woman, (Gen 3:15), how the Messianic Psalms speak of Him, the Suffering servant in Isaiah… Think how many OT prophecies were fulfilled in Christ’s birth and life and death. The OT is about Jesus, about God, his redemptive plan, his Covenant of Grace with mankind, and the expectation of a coming Messiah. So we are going to look at the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and see Christ in all the Scriptures. So let’s remind ourselves of what we read in the text…

1. The Story!
The story falls into two parts:
God commissions Samuel to anoint David. v1-6
The chapter begins with Samuel the prophet in mourning. He had been disappointed with Saul, who had not lived up to his calling and God had removed his Spirit from him, – had forsaken him. Saul had been sent into battle against the Amalekites, a dreadfully wicked culture and had been specifically told to destroy them, and their belongings and their livestock. He disobeyed, and spared the Amalekite king, Agag, He made the excuse that he had spared the livestock to sacrifice them to the Lord, but Samuel was having none of it. He thundered, “To OBEY is better than to sacrifice.” Samuel slew the wicked king Agag himself, but the whole affair had left him mournful and estranged from Saul.

  1. God challenges Samuel. ‘How long are you going to sit here mourning. I have work for you to do – go to Bethlehem and anoint a new king for my people. He is one of the sons of Jesse – God has PROVIDED FOR HIMSELF A KING.
  2. Samuel is reluctant! That would put him in danger of Saul, who by now was so angry with Samuel that he would have killed him. But wherever the prophet went, there was always a primary purpose, – to offer worship to the Lord, and God reminds him of that. This would be a two-pronged mission, to sacrifice and to anoint.
  3. Samuel reaches Bethlehem. Note the reaction of the town council. They meet him along the road and ask whether he has come with peaceable intentions! perhaps they had already heard of the fate of Agag! 1 Samuel 15:-32-33 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. But Samuel allays their fears. he has come in peace to sacrifice to the Lord, and they must consecrate themselves and come to the worship.

Samuel learns that God has His chosen man. v6-13

  1. Jesse and his sons are invited to the worship experience. v5, This must have been a small select gathering, by invitation only, and Jesse get his invitation. Notice that while Samuel tells the city elders to consecrate themselves for the worship, – he performs this task himself for Jesse and his family! Perhaps to get a better appreciation of them?
  2. Samuel muses over a possible candidate. v 6-7. One of the boys is a man called Eliab. he looked the part. He must have been tall, for God later tells Samuel not to have regard for his height, he must have had a kingly appearance and a regal bearing. Samuel was impressed! “Surely this is the man.” Perhaps he reminded Samuel of the earlier Saul, who also was tall. 1 Samuel 9:2, Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. Samuel thinks, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” – I wonder was he thinking of one who would stand before the Lord – almost in a legal sense, as in a courtroom to be measured up… If so,
  3. God dispels that notion! This is not the man! He may look like a king – he may have all the royal bearing of a king, and all the physical presence that a great leader needs, – but this is not the man! You see, while we look on outward things, physical appearance, and speech and mannerisms and works – GOD LOOKS ON THE HEART! He sees the motives and the thoughts and the desires that we cannot see, and this was not the man! Eliab must have resented this! 1 Samuel 17:28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. But no more chosen were any of the other boys who Jesse had brought to the sacrifice. v8-10 Then who can it be? Are all your sons here, Jesse? No!
  4. The youngest, smallest son. v11-12 There was one boy that Jesse hadn’t brought. Perhaps he was a bit embarrassed by this for this son, a boy called David was a shepherd, and nobody likes shepherds. They stink. They live rough, outside the city, and their hygiene s terrible, for there’s nowhere for them to bathe out on those sparse arid hills, and anyway, this boy has red hair… ‘Get him,’ says Samuel! He was sent for and brought. He was small (Young and small could be a deliberate play on words in the Hebrew) and a ruddy (The term is also used to describe Esau in Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.) and with bright beautiful eyes, a good looking young man.
  5. Samuel anoints David. In the midst of his brothers, Samuel takes his animal horn full of oil and pours it over David’s head. The Bible records that as the anointing came down upon David he was filled with the spirit from then on.

That anointing was the culmination of Samuel’s ministry – the Bible records that after it he went home! v13. He went to Ramah, and while he is mentioned a few more times, his ministry has effectively concluded.

2. The Significance!
Now, what simple lessons can we learn from this historical passage? In His providence and sovereignty:-

  1. God was preparing David for service! In the field, as a shepherd! Learning all about the tenderness required to look after the lambs, and yet with the courage to drive away the wolves. One who later would recognise those same qualities in God himself, the true shepherd of Israel. Ps 23.
  2. God was preparing Israel for his ultimate Glory! In whatever time of darkness the Lord’s people were found, God was always preparing for His glory to be brought out of that darkness! Joseph in the prison in Egypt, all because of the perfidy of his own brothers, could later say, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” At the Exodus, God again rescued his people from distress. He always does! Psalm 107:6 Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. The nation had sinned under Saul, but God was in control, he already had his own man in place, and he would bring matters to reflect his will and purpose.
  3. God is long-suffering with sinners! And with sinful nations. In the anointing of David, he was given the nation of Israel time to repent of their sins and return to him. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  4. God always chooses the weak things to overcome the mighty. Nobody else would have chosen David that day. There were bigger, more physical, more kingly looking men. But God often does this, and here’s why: 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. Nowhere is this seen more than at the cross, where in the weakness of submission and suffering and death, Jesus yielded up his life for sinners and in so doing defeated death, defeated sin and defeated the devil. Read Isaiah 53:2-5, (ESV) …he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
  5. God sees the human heart. And this is a principle that really is about me! For he sees my heart, just as he seen Eliab’s heart and David’s heart. And what does he see? Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

And because God knows all about what goes on inside my head, and how treacherous my heart is, that is exactly why I need a Saviour, to wash away my sins, and the only Saviour is Jesus.

3. The Saviour!
Finally, we said that all of these stories point to Christ and they do, for here, in the appointment of a king for the people of God, we see God choosing a great man to shepherd and lead his flock. A man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, (Saul) he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Yet a man who ultimately would fail, who could not perfectly live before the Lord, nor could he bring salvation to others.
How was David great?

  1. Great in the works that he did. Under David Israel prospered. It’s boundaries were extended. The ark was restored to Israel, a new capital was established at Jerusalem, the dispirit tribes of the north and south were united in a common bond, the people were fairly dealt with…
  2. Great in the character he had. He was a fine man, he was valiant in battle, fair in judgement, loving – the man who could lead a mighty army could weep at the grave of a baby. He was a man of worship, and a man filled with God’s praises. Read his psalms, – he was a man of music and culture. Yet he was a flawed character, a sinner, of Adam’s fallen race, who could scheme and lust and murder and lie.
  3. Great in the pleasure he gave unto God. YET, 2 Samuel 11:27 But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Victorious leader that David was, he was not the King that God’s people would ultimately lead. That king would be Jesus, who is described as great David’s greater son, for he did a greater work than David, expanding God’s kingdom to include all nations and all tongues, bringing sinners into the Kingdom through his atoning death. Greater in his character, for Jesus never sinned! Great in fulfilling God’s will and bringing glory to the Father, who said, “This is beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

God was is and will be ALWAYS PLEASED WITH HIM! All hail King Jesus!

From → 1 Samuel

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