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David and The Good Life | Identity

September 11, 2022
1 Samuel 16:1-13

1The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over 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 for myself a king among his sons.” 2And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7But 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.” 8Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

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In this passage we see the Lord send Samuel on a secret mission to anoint the new king of Israel. In v.1, the Lord reprimands Samuel for dwelling on the regret of anointing Saul as the first king of Israel. Samuel is seen grieving Saul’s unhinged behavior—his arrogance, greed, and his rejection of the Lord’s authority structure for Israel’s unique kingship. 

However, in contrast to Samuel, God does not dwell on the past. He focuses on the future—in choosing and anointing a messianic king David, who unlike Saul submits to the kingship of Israel’s Lord. It is vital to note the contrast between Saul and David as the anointed ones. In the previous chapters we see the people of Israel demand for a king to govern them, and the Lord, in response, commands Samuel to publicly anoint Saul as their king. In their foolish demand for an earthly king who resembled the kings of the pagan nations, the people of Israel rejected their heavenly king, the Lord their God. 

In sheer contrast, David as the anointed one is unlike Saul in that he is called the man after God’s own heart. In other words, David is chosen by God himself to be the messianic king of Israel. Furthermore, unlike Saul whose anointing as a king was public and immediate, David’s anointing is private and drawn out. 

The main theme of the passage is found in the interaction between Samuel and the Lord. We see that in v.6-7. In v.6 Samuel prematurely assumes Eliab, the older son of Jesse, to be the anointed one of the Lord. However, Samuel is mistaken in his judgment, and all seven sons of Jesse are rejected by God. Samuel’s assumption based on the outward appearance emphasizes the limitation of human understanding and judgment. In v.7 we learn an important distinction between God’s sight and man’s sight. It is interesting to note that man as a rational being is bestowed with agency to discern, evaluate, and judge; yet man is limited in his understanding. 

In contrast, God does not see as man sees. While man sees and judges based on outward appearances, God looks at the heart. In this passage we see the Lord choose David, a young shepherd boy who was so insignificant that his presence was deemed unnecessary by his own father.


To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst

To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships

To participate in God’s mission to the world 

Opening Prayer

God of radiant light, shine into our lives, and disperse the darkness that dims our vision; shine into our world, and cast out the fears that long have chained us; shine into our worship, that we may be a people of your hope and promise. Amen.

Responsive Prayer—Psalm 50

1O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might.

2O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.

3For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves.

4Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

5He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.

6With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.

7For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Discussion Questions

1. Looking at the Bible

What does the text say?

  • Look with curiosity at this text. What jumps out at you?
    • Notice the theme of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His people in anointing David as their king, in spite of their rejection of God as king.
    • Pay attention to the contrast between Samuel’s and God’s way of seeking the man to be anointed as the king.
  • Focus on the interaction between Samuel and God in verses 6-7: What does Samuel’s premature assumption about God’s choice indicate about your own evaluation of self and others?

2. Looking at Jesus

Everything in Scripture says something about Jesus. What does this passage teach you to believe about him?

This passage gives us several clues that point towards Jesus. First, David’s father Jesse is the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:17-22) and comes from the tribe of Judah (Ruth 4:12; cf. Genesis 38). In his commentary, Bill Arnold makes an interesting observation connecting the anointing of David to Jesus. He writes,

“From this time forward, the name of Jesse, the city of Bethlehem, and the tribe of Judah will always be linked to Israel’s Messiah.” 

Furthermore, David’s identity as a man after God’s own heart, and his anointing as a messianic king gives us an important clue that points to the greater David, the Son of God, who is called the Messiah—Jesus Christ.

  • How does Samuel’s anointing of David as king reveal our deep need for a king to guide us?
  • The Jews in Jesus’ day failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah as he did not look or act like the Messiah they had in mind. How does our own expectation of the Messiah impact our relationship with Jesus?
  • What is the central theme of this passage, and what does it show us about Jesus as the greater David?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

  • What does this passage show us about our evaluation of self, particularly our tendency to self-criticism based on factors like talents, performance, and achievements?
  • How does acknowledging the fact that God does not see us as we see ourselves and others bring immense comfort to us?
  • This passage reveals to us the importance of forming our identity based on God’s evaluation, and not man’s evaluation. How does this reality empower us to serve God faithfully and effectively?

4. Looking at Our World

  • How does God deal with Samuel when he prematurely assumes Eliab to be the anointed one? What does it reveal about God’s heart in His dealings with us?
  • How does God’s anointing of David as the king in spite of Israel’s rejection of God as their king give us hope?
  • How does this passage compel us to hope in God, and serve Him in the mission of the church?


May God bless you, providing you with a listening ear.

May Christ bless you, giving you the words you need to truly follow in his way.

May the Holy Spirit bless you, instilling in you the boldness to seek God’s grace and mercy.

May the triune God bless you and give you peace. Amen.

  • View Study Guide Notes

    Question 1: This “looking at the Bible” section is an opportunity for your group to look with curiosity at the text. Some will be familiar with this passage others may not, so it allows everyone to spend a few moments carefully reading the passage. Curiosity is the beginning of being a good student of the Bible. This also means many questions or insights will be raised for which no one will have a good answer. That’s OK too! If you don’t know the significance of filling a horn with oil to anoint someone, the right response is “Great question, I’m not sure.”

    This passage gives us an insight into God’s heart. Firstly, it reveals to us God’s steadfast love and faithfulness towards his people in spite of their unfaithfulness, and secondly, this passage shows us how God seeks and honors the kind of people who are least likely to be considered worthy according to human standards.

    Question 2: The central theme of this passage deals with God’s estimation of human beings—how God sees and what kind of people God honors, and how God’s evaluation of us should shape our identity. This passage teaches us about the identity of Jesus, particularly his humble estate in his earthly ministry. Like David, Jesus was deemed insignificant by the people around him, including his own family members. Long before the incarnation of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah writes about Jesus who is referred to as the suffering servant: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2b-3). In God’s economy, salvation comes through a suffering servant, who died an ignominious and painful death on the cross, despised by the Jews, and rejected by his own disciples.

    Jesus, according to the Jews who persecuted him, was an unlikely Messiah. He did not look or act like a Messiah they had envisioned. But Jesus was indeed the Messiah who was sent by God the Father to reconcile sinners to himself. We, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, are prone to judge people purely based on their external appearances—their leadership qualities, educational background etc. This passage teaches us that God has the superior vantage point of seeing our hearts. Since we are not God, we cannot possibly discern who will answer the call of God, and who will be effective in the mission of God. This means that we are called to use caution when judging other people, and their potential ability to serve in the church.

    Question 3: Oftentimes we are extremely critical of self and others, and we base our criticism on factors like gifts, performance, abilities, etc. This passage reminds us to acknowledge our limited perspective to evaluate self and others. This means that albeit we may feel that we do not have much to offer God, our evaluation of self, based on our own perspective is not the deciding factor. As followers of Christ, we believe that we are called by God, and are united with Christ. Thus, It is immensely comforting to acknowledge the fact that God does not see like how we see. If God has called us to be His hands and feet in serving as a community, He will also empower us to serve Him faithfully and effectively.

    Question 4: As human beings, we are inevitably and inescapably limited in our evaluation of self and others. Yet, in this passage we see the Fatherly heart of God at display. God does not condemn Samuel for his error in judgment, rather we see him gently rebuke Samuel and guide Samuel by showing him how he sees us and evaluates the heart. This passage is filled with hope as it compels us to rely on God to shape our identity, and not on our limited perspective. As we trust God’s evaluation of us to form our identity, we will serve effectively as His conduits of grace in the life and mission of the church.