1 Samuel 16:1
And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?…
(References: - Family register - 1 Chronicles 1-3.
I. Early life: shepherd, harper, champion - chs. 16, 17.
II. Courtier and outlaw life - chs. 18-31; 2 Samuel 1.
III. Royal life in Hebron and Jerusalem - 2 Samuel 2-24; 1 Kings 1, 2; 1 Chronicles 10-29.) While Saul pursued his own way at Gibeah, and Samuel mourned for him at Ramah, there dwelt at Bethlehem (twelve miles from the latter place) a shepherd youth who was destined to attain peerless renown as "a man of war," a ruler over men, an inspired poet and prophet, and (because of his fulfilling the idea of a truly theocratic king more perfectly than any other) a type of One to whom is given "a name which is above every name." Once and again the prophet had declared that Saul would be replaced by a worthier successor (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:28); but who that successor should be he knew not until the inner voice said, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he" (ver. 12). DAVID (the beloved) was sixteen or eighteen years of age. His personal appearance is minutely described. In comparison with the gigantic Saul, and even his eldest brother, he was of short stature (ver. 7). He had reddish or auburn hair, and a fresh, florid complexion, which were rare among his black locked and swarthy countrymen; a pleasing countenance, keen, bright eyes, and a graceful form. He also possessed great physical strength, courage, intelligence, sagacity, and power of expression (ver. 18); above all, a firm trust in God and ardent love toward him. Many influences combined to make him what he was, and to develop his extraordinary gifts; which, after his anointing, advanced rapidly towards perfection. "It is impossible to draw a line of distinction between his life before and after his designation by Samuel; but we may well believe that those elements of character were already forming which began to shine forth when the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him." "Royalty was inborn in him." Among the formative influences referred to were those of -
I. FAMILY RELATIONSHIP.
1. He belonged to one of the most honourable families in Judah, the foremost tribe of Israel. His ancestor, Nahshon, was prince of the tribe (Numbers 2:3; Numbers 7:12); another, Salmon, married Rahab, "who received the spies in peace" (Matthew 1:5); another, Boaz (great-grandfather of David), married Ruth the Moabitess, "a truly consecrated flower of heathendom turning longingly to the light of Divine revelation in Israel" (Ruth 4:17). His father, Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), who would often speak of them, had attained "a good old age" (1 Samuel 17:12), was in prosperous circumstances, had eight sons, of whom David was the youngest, and two daughters-in-law (2 Samuel 17:25), whose children - Abishai, Joab, and Asabel (sons of Zeruiah), and Amass (son of Abigail) - were old enough to be his companions. Peculiar physical, mental, and moral qualities often characterise certain families, are transmitted from one generation to another, and are sometimes concentrated in a single individual; and great family traditions tend to excite noble impulses and aspirations.
2. He was connected (through Tamar, Rahab, Ruth) with several Gentile races. This served to enlarge his sympathies, and accounts for his friendly intercourse with them (1 Samuel 22:3; 1 Kings 5:1). "No prince of Israel was ever on such friendly, intimate terms with the heathen about him" ('Expositor,' 2:9).
3. He received a godly training. Jesse was a man of simple piety (vers. 1, 5; 1 Samuel 20:6); his mother (whose name has not been recorded) was a "handmaid of Jehovah" (Psalm 86:16; Psalm 116:16). "How much David owed to her we cannot doubt. The memory of it abode with him through all the trials and all the splendours of his subsequent career; and hence, whilst nowhere does he mention his father, he seems in these passages to appeal to the memory of his mother's goodness, as at once a special token of the Divine favour to himself, and an additional reason that he should prove himself the servant of God" (W.L. Alexander).
II. ORDINARY OCCUPATION. Whilst his brothers cultivated fields and vineyards on the slopes of Bethlehem, he kept his father's sheep "in the wilderness" of Judah (1 Samuel 17:28), and his lowly occupation -
1. Was adapted to nurture physical strength, agility, and endurance; to call forth energy, self-reliance, and courage amidst numerous perils in a wild country, from beasts of prey and hill robbers (1 Chronicles 7:21); to make him expert in the use of the sling, like the neighbouring Benjamites (Judges 20:16; 1 Samuel 17:50; 1 Chronicles 12:9.); and to prepare him to rule over men by developing a sense of responsibility, and leading him to seek the welfare and study the increase and improvement of the flock (Psalm 78:70-72).
2. Left him much alone, and afforded him leisure for meditation and the cultivation of a taste for music, by playing on the hand harp, which he could easily carry with him when he "followed the flock," and the rare gift of song, in both of which he may have greatly improved, after his anointing, by attendance at the school of the prophets at Ramah (1 Samuel 19:18). To his musical skill he owed his first introduction to the court of Saul, and by its means he became "the sweet singer of Israel." "With his whole heart he sang songs, and loved him that made him" (Ecclus. 47:8).
3. Furnished him with the suggestive imagery of many of his psalms, especially Psalm 23. - 'The Divine Shepherd.' "It is the echo of his shepherd life, and breathes the very spirit of sunny confidence and of perfect rest in God."
III. THE NATURAL CREATION. To him the visible universe was a manifestation of the glory of the invisible, immanent, ever-operating God (Psalm 104.). He regarded nature "not as an independent and self-subsisting power, but rather as the outer chamber of an unseen Presence - a garment, a veil, which the eternal One is ever ready to break through" (Shairp, 'Poetic Inter. of Nature'). Brought into direct and constant communion with it, he felt a boundless delight in contemplating
"The silence that is in the starry sky,
The sleep that is among the lonely hills;"
in listening to its mysterious voices, and watching its ever varying aspects; and poured forth the thought and feeling of his heart in songs of adoration and praise; as in Psalm 19:1-13 - 'The heavens by day;' Psalm 8. - 'The heavens by night; Psalm 29. - 'The thunderstorm.' "What we call the love of nature is in fact the love and admiration of the Deity (so far forth as he is perceived in external nature). The enthusiasm with which men survey the endless vicissitudes which the spectacle of the universe exhibits is nothing else than the devotional temper, moderated and repressed by the slight veil which sensible objects interpose between us and their author" (D. Stewart).
IV. HISTORIC REVELATION. He was instructed in "the law of the Lord" (Psalm 19:7-14 - 'The moral law'), and in the wonderful works which he had wrought on behalf of his people in past time (Psalm 105.); whilst the scenes amidst which his life was spent formed a pictorial Bible, by which they were more deeply impressed on his memory. His acquaintance with the contents of the sacred records then existing would be greatly increased under the teaching of Samuel. "Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more" (Bacon).
V. PROVIDENTIAL PRESERVATION. The same special care which had been exercised by Jehovah over Israel he was taught to recognise in the lowly course of his own individual life. Once and again he was preserved in imminent danger (1 Samuel 17:37), and thus his faith in the ever watchful presence and providence of the Great Shepherd grew strong. "Every Hebrew might consider himself alone in the presence of God; the single being to whom a great revelation had been made, and over whose head an exceeding weight of glory was suspended. His personal welfare was infinitely concerned with every event that had taken place in the miraculous order of Providence His belief in him could not exist without producing, as a necessary effect, that profound impression of passionate individual attachment which in the Hebrew authors always mingles with and vivifies their faith in the Invisible" (A.H. Hallam).
VI. RELIGIOUS INSPIRATION. Led by Divine grace from his earliest years into direct and loving communion with Jehovah, he was endowed with unusual spiritual power, which, as he faithfully surrendered himself to it, wrought in him more and more mightily, and prepared him for his high destiny. And all true spiritual life, as well as the peculiar endowments of the prophets and apostles, is a Divine inspiration (John 3:8; Acts 2:17). "The morning of his day this extraordinary man spent not in colleges nor camps nor courts, but in following, the sheep among the pastures of Bethlehem. There, under the breathings of spring and the blasts of winter; there, in fellowship with fields and flocks and silent stars; there, with the spirit of nature and of God fresh upon him; there, in the land of vision, miracle, and angels - there it was that his character was formed, a character which afterwards exhibited so rare a combination of simplicity and grandeur, sensibility and power" (C. Morris). Application (to the young): -
1. The morning of life is the appropriate season for education - physical, mental, moral. If neglected, the evil cannot be repaired.
2. No educational advantages can be of service without your own diligent cooperation.
3. All circumstances - adverse as well as propitious, solitude and society, work and recreation - may be helpful to your highest progress.
4. "Have faith in God," the secret of all David's greatness. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
WEB: Yahweh said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite; for I have provided a king for myself among his sons."