1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?
Samuel was troubled by Saul’s failure, and he grieved for some time. Then God told him to go Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the future king of Israel. When Samuel saw the first son he 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 (1 Samuel 16:6-7).
In a world that prizes beauty, the most attractive are highly favored. That is why we diet, exercise, and wear nice clothing. If we want people’s approval, we will spend time improving our appearance. But if we want God’s approval, we will spend time improving our heart. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
And the heart is not always beautiful. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (Mark 7:21-22), said Jesus.
Some people think their hearts are good by nature, and it’s only their bodies lead them astray. But Jesus taught that corruption begins in the heart. If we want to please God, we must banish evil from our hearts, and dwell on that which is good. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8), said Jesus.
1 Samuel 16:10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, The Lord has not chosen these.
Then Jesse called for his youngest son, who was out watching the sheep. 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 (1 Samuel 16:12). Samuel anointed David in the presence of his brothers, and the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon him.
David had a fine appearance, but more importantly, he had a heart for God. Twice the Bible describes him as a man after [God’s] own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). This is not said of anyone else, and distinguished David above many. The most important qualification for being king was the desire to please God.
This is another reason Jesus is qualified to be king of the world. David was great, but he was not without sin (Psalm 51:5). And If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8), wrote John.
There is only one person who ever obeyed God perfectly. [F]or I seek not to please myself but him who sent me (John 5:30), said Jesus. And, I always do what pleases him (John 8:29), said Jesus again. We should imagine a perfect king ruling the world forever, since that is what the future holds (Luke 1:33). Christ alone is qualified, and his reign will never end.
1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
This is a fascinating insight into the spiritual realm. Saul had enjoyed the help of God’s Spirit, and was greatly empowered to lead the nation. Due to chronic disobedience, however, the Holy Spirit departed from Saul, and was replaced by an evil spirit.
We should be careful about drawing conclusions from this about the Christian life, but we should also be careful to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom [we] were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), wrote Paul.
We should, Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and bear the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), wrote Paul also. The spiritual realm is just as real as the physical realm, and we should not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).
1 Samuel 16:15-16 Saul’s attendants said to him, See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.
Saul did not know that David was anointed the future king of Israel, so he did not object when one of his servants recommended David as a musician. Whenever the evil spirit came on Saul, David played his instrument, and the evil spirit left him alone (1 Samuel 16:23). This can still be helpful today.
Everyone is troubled by the devil sometimes (Matthew 4:1-11), but we can be helped by hearing or singing godly music. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), wrote Paul. Godly music can glorify the Lord, and put the devil to flight.
Reflection and Review
Is the human heart good or evil?
Why did Jesus have a good heart?
Should Christians be concerned about losing the Holy Spirit?