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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 16

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-23

  1. INTRO:
    1. Last week (ch.15) was strike 3 for King Saul:
      Strike #1 - He presumptuously offered a sacrifice(a duty for priests only).
      Strike #2 - He made an egotistical vow that caused his people to sin & almost cost the life of his son Jonathan.
      Strike #3 - God told him to destroy the Amalekites, but he spared the king & the best of the livestock.
    2. The year 1809 was a very good year. Of course no one knew it at the time because every eye was on Napoleon, as he swept across Austria like a frenzied flame in a parched wheat field. Little seemed significant, the terror of his reign was the talk of all Europe. But that same year while war was being waged and history was being made babies were being born in England and America. But who cared about babies and bottles, and cribs and cradles when Austria was falling? Someone should have. For in 1809 a great host of thinkers and statesmen drew their first breaths. William Gladstone was born in Liverpool. Alfred Tennyson began his life in Lincolnshire. Oliver Wendell Holmes cried for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A few miles away in Boston, Edgar Allen Poe began his brief and tragic sojourn on earth. And in Hodgenville, Kentucky in a rugged log cabin owned by an illiterate laborer, and his wife were heard the screams of their new-born son, Abraham Lincoln.All this and more happened in 1809. But nobody noticed. The destiny of the world was being shaped by Napoleon over in Austria. Or was it? The "nobodies," nobody noticed were in fact, the genesis of a new era. It was their lives, their brains, their writings that would dent the destiny of the entire world.
      1. The year 1020 BC was also a very good year. But not because of Saul, the king all Israel pinned their hopes on. That year was significant because, in a secluded field in Bethlehem, God was raising up a youth named David. A “nobody” nobody noticed. A somebody who would change Israel's course forever. Because while the people saw only a shepherd, God saw a king. (Adapted from Frank W. Boreham, “Christmas,” in 2500 Best Modern Illustrations.)
  2. GOD CHOSE DAVID! (1-13)
    1. DAVID, SHEPHERD BOY! (1-11)
    2. (1) It’s right to mourn when someone falls/jumps into sin (1 Cor. 5:1,2); but it doesn’t solve problems; it’s time for action.
    3. Good wisdom for each of us - fill your horn with oil, & GO!
    4. (2) A risky mission - to anoint a successor, when there was still a sitting king!
    5. (2,3) Telling only what is true doesn’t necessitate telling the whole truth about the matter.
      1. Especially if it is going to put lives into danger. [Not only Samuels, David’s & all fam]
      2. Not resorting to deceit, but w/holding information that would result in great harm
    6. (6) A puzzled prophet - How strange Samuel would fall for this twice! (judging by outside)
    7. (7) Have you checked the labels on your grocery items lately? You may be getting less than you thought. Some manufacturers are selling us the same size packages we are accustomed to, but they are putting less of the product in the box. (Potato Chip bag)
      1. For example, a box of well-known detergent that once held 61 ounces now contains only 55. Same size box, less soap.
      2. How something is wrapped doesn’t always show us what’s on the inside.
        1. That’s true with people as well!
        2. How do you evaluate teenagers? (which David was!) Do you tend to measure them by externals?
        3. We can wrap ourselves up in the same packaging every day “nice clothes, big smile, friendly demeanor”, yet still be less than what we appear to be.
    8. The heart determines the life (Prov.4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life) & only God can see the heart.
      1. God looks at the heart!
        1. God not only sees our hearts but searches them (1 Chron.28:9); not only searches but knows our thoughts & motives (Heb.4:12,13).
        2. We think we know our own heart...but we don’t (Jer.17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?); Since we don’t even know our own hearts...how can we judge someone else’s heart?(1Cor.4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness & reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God)
      2. Since God looks at he heart...does that effect the way you see yourself?
        1. Does that influence your priorities? How so?
    9. (8-10) So Samuel checks the whole batting line up. Really liked the batter on deck(#1 son)
      1. But the whole bench was out, before they were in.
      2. Come to find out, there was 1 more son...who wasn’t even in the stadium!
    10. We have much to learn from God!
      1. Rather than embracing or rejecting others based on their status or lack of it, their wealth or poverty, their beauty or plainness, their cleverness or their gullibility, we should look at their character.
      2. We should look for the values they not only profess but live out.
      3. If we took the time to do this, smooth talk & charming smiles would be less likely to glaze our judgment.
        1. We need to do what Samuel did: look to the Lord for discernment & wait for His choice, whether that’s a business partner, a mate, or a leader.
    11. Have you attended one of your H.S. Reunions?
      1. How were the “Most likely to succeeds” doing? - Often the one’s we didn’t think would even make it out of senior year, were doing quite well!
    12. (11) Jesse’s attitude toward David displays 2 mistakes parents often make:
      1. 1st, he didn’t appreciate each of his children equally.
        1. Well yes, there is 1 more, but he just watches sheep! (didn’t even whistle him out a the field)
      2. 2nd, he failed to cultivate a mutual respect among the brothers.
        1. Did the family pick up the attitude? Based on Eliab’s comments to David in ch.17:28...you bet!
      3. Parenting 101: The greatest contribution you can make in the lives of your children (aside from introducing them to the Savior) is to help them see their worth!
        1. They need to know they have something unique to offer, just like every other member of the family.
        2. Do you communicate to your children the message that they might be the ones God will choose to use in a special way? Do you play favorites, keeping some in the field w/the sheep? Do you see yourself favoring the child in your family who is most like you or who has qualities you admire? Do you overlook or slight the child who is least like you or who has qualities that annoy you?
          1. Children are built w/high-frequency emotional antennas.
          2. Ask the Lord what He sees in your children. Let Him show you their hearts. Write down the unique traits that He specially values. Then write a letter to your children, sharing w/each one what God has impressed on your heart.
          3. If we will robe your children w/a sense of value, crown them w/the jewels of self-worth, they will, when they are anointed by the sweet oil of the Spirit, accomplish regal things for the King. (Charles Swindoll: David, A Man of Passion & Destiny; pg.17.)
    13. God loves to “color outside the lines” of human expectations! (Shepherdʼs Notes: 1st Samuel; pg.28)
      1. In ancient near eastern societies they always gave privilege to firstborn sons.
      2. God regularly chose people who were overlooked & ignored by others, to do his most special work!
        1. David joins a long line of individuals honored by God even though they were disqualified by people.
        2. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, & Moses were also younger brothers whom God exalted over their peers.
    14. DAVID, KING-ELECT! (12,13)
    15. (13) Samuel goes home...job was done there. But how would the little shepherd boy get from the field to the throne? Not his responsibility, not his problem, not his job.
      1. ​​​​​​​God would see to it!
    16. Imagine one minute he’s swatting flies in the pasture, & the next he’s getting oil poured over is head & told that he’ll be Israel’s future king. (Josephus says Samuel whispered in his ear that God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel)
    17. What’s also cool is David didn’t run out to try on crowns, or run out to buy a candy-apple-red chariot to ride through Bethlehem announcing his new position of royalty.
      1. He didn’t even bronze Samuel’s horn to hang in his tent.
      2. His humility shone like the sheen of his freshly anointed head...as he...the king-elect...went back to the sheep fields until God’s hand moved him onto the throne.
      3. Nothing has changed...yet everything has changed!
      4. I wonder if as he was walking back to the sheep he thought, “Wow, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
  3. GOD PREPARED DAVID! (14-23)
    1. ​​​​​​​DAVID, MUSIC THERAPIST! (14-23)
    2. (14) At the time of David receiving God’s Spirit...Saul lost it!
      1. Don’t freak out, this can’t happen in our day!
      2. I didn’t like when we sang, Create In Me A Clean Heart Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord - And take not Thy holy spirit from me - Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation - And renew a right spirit within me. [from Ps.51 but doesn’t/can’t happen today]
        1. In OT, H.S.’s ministry was to temporarily empower individuals for certain tasks.
        2. In NT, Jesus promised,, for He(HS) dwells with you and will be in you. (i.e. Pentecost!)
    3. Replacing the divine Spirit in Saul’s life was an evil spirit that tormented him.
      1. Even his servants recognized the change in the king’s life. (15)
      2. The presence or absence of the H.S. in the OT says nothing about salvation but only that His power worked in those whom God selected for service.
    4. A distressing spirit from the Lord! :O (vs.14,15,16,23)
      1. How could God send an evil spirit?
      2. Gleason Archer, “By these successive acts of rebellion against the will and law of God, King Saul left himself wide open to satanic influence - just as Judas Iscariot did after he had determined to betray the Lord Jesus”. Insofar as God has established the spiritual laws of cause and effect, it is accurate to say that Saul's disobedience cut him off from the guidance and communion of the Holy Spirit that he had formerly enjoyed and left him a prey to a malign spirit of depression and intense jealousy that drove him increasingly to irrational paranoia. Although he was doubtless acting as an agent of Satan, Saul's evil bent was by the permission and plan of God. We must realize that in the last analysis all penal consequences for sin come from God, as the Author of the moral law and the one who always does what is right. (Gleason Archer: Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties; 1982, p.179)
    5. (18) God used David’s musical skill to bring him into the king’s presence.
      1. I wonder if David’s mom had to make him practice in his room?
    6. He used his musical skills as a harpist to provide temporary relief to the troubled king.
      1. The English dramatist William Congreve (1670-1729) once wrote, "Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." (Word "breast" often misquoted as "beast". The play was called The Mourning Bride 1697, quote is spoken by Almeria in Act 1 Sc1.)
        1. Breast meant “the trunk from the neck to the abdomen”.
        2. And we’ve all seen it happen when a hot, tear-streaked, red-faced, crying baby is cooled by a mothers tender lullaby.
        3. Or have all experienced it personally, driving in our car, steaming from something going on, then we turn on some of our favorite music & it settles our souls.
        4. Saul’s “savage breast” needed soothing! (i.e. My mom would rub on Vicks Vapor Rub)
      2. David was so effective at helping Saul that the king made him a regular member of the royal court.
      3. What kind of music flows from your life? Is it the harsh & jarring sounds of bitterness, selfish ambition, & pride? Or do people hear the soothing harmonies of God’s Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control?
    7. The OT links Israel’s great musical heritage with the life of David.
      1. 73 of the Psalms are credited to David.
        1. More than 6 times the number attributed to any other person or group.
      2. David was both a performer & a writer of music.
        1. His instrument harp [רוּׄנִּכ/kin·nore] was actually a Lyre) Lyre = strings stretched across a sounding board over a blank space & attached to a crossbar. Then would draw a plectrum(large pick) across the strings w/rt hand & deaden the strings w/left. Greeks called it a Kithara, where we get our word guitar.
      3. Responsible for making music a central part of Israelite temple worship.
        1. He made the Levitical clans of Asaph, Heman, & Jeduthun the permanent musicians charged w/the responsibility of making music a major part of the worship of God at Jerusalem. (1 Chron.25 whole ch.)
    8. (23) The H.S. empowered David to drive away the evil spirit that overwhelmed Saul.
    9. Lessons learned:
      1. God rejects the self-serving & exalts the God-serving.
      2. God looks beyond the outward appearance & peers right into the heart.
      3. God notices the nobodies - who are really the somebodies after all.
      4. God’s solutions are usually strange & simple...be open.
      5. God’s provisions are usually sudden & surprising...be ready.
      6. God’s selections are always sovereign & sure...be calm. (Charles Swindoll: David, a Man of Passion & Destiny; pg.15)
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-samuel-16.html. 2017.
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