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David and The Good Life | Calling

September 18, 2022
1 Samuel 16:14-23

14Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

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In our discussion last week we looked at 1 Samuel 16:1-13 which deals with the anointing of David as the king of Israel. In David’s anointing we see the Lord’s presence—His direct involvement in electing and anointing David. In this discussion, we look at the rest of the passage which recounts the calling and introduction of David into the courtroom to serve Saul. While in v.1-13 we see the presence and power of God in David’s anointing, in v.14-23 we see the providence or what is commonly known as the hand of God in David’s calling.

In v.14 we are told that the Spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul. The Spirit of the Lord is indicative of God’s presence, power, and favor in one’s life. When the Spirit of the Lord departs from a person, it invariably leads to tragic consequences. We see that in the life of Samson in Judges 16. The Spirit of the Lord in Saul’s life is replaced by a harmful spirit from the Lord. It is vital for us to distinguish between the Spirit of the Lord and the harmful spirit from the Lord. While the Spirit of the Lord is indicative of His presence, the harmful spirit from the Lord, in Saul’s case, is the direct result of Saul’s rebellion against God and his kingship. In other words, Saul’s unrelenting sinful rebellion against God precipitated his torment. According to several commentators, Saul’s torment could indicate intermittent bouts of mental disturbances akin to paranoia, and severe depression. In any case, in this passage we see God, in his providence using the occasion of the departure of his Spirit from Saul to introduce David to the very courtroom where he will be enthroned as the king of Israel in the years to come.

This passage teaches us the importance of submitting to God’s authority by acknowledging his presence which brings peace, favor, and satisfaction in our lives. Furthermore, this passage, through David’s calling and introduction as Saul’s personal musician and armor-bearer, teaches us about the providence of God in the day to day affairs of our lives. The God who anointed David to be the king of Israel is the same God who providentially sustained David with his presence and favor, even as he humbly and faithfully served Saul.


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?

  • Read the text carefully. Notice the beginning of the shift of political and spiritual power from Saul to David. What according to you is the theme of this passage?
  • Notice the contrast between the latter part v.13-14. What can we learn about the Spirit of the Lord from these verses?
  • What can we learn about the providence of God—the relationship between events of day to day life, and God's involvement in them? 
  • David, who is anointed to be a king, is introduced here as a servant/personal musician of Saul. What can we learn about our work as God's calling in light of this passage?

2. Looking at Jesus

Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage points to Jesus, and the grand narrative of the Bible finds its fulfillment in Jesus.

  • Since everything in Scripture says something about Jesus, what does this passage teach you to believe about Jesus?
  • How does the story of David's humble calling to serve Saul point us to Christ?
  • What can we learn about Jesus' calling from this passage?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul exhorts the believers to be content with their calling, and lead the life that the Lord has assigned to them, and to which He has called them (1 Cor 7:17). 

  • What do we learn about our work as God's calling in our life from this passage?
  • What does David's response to being introduced as a servant teach us about work and contentment?
  • What does this passage teach us about our hearts, with relation to our work? Do you find satisfaction in your work, or do you see your work as a burden?

4. Looking at Our World

  • How does this passage challenge us to consider our work as God's calling?
  • How does the doctrine of God's providence as seen in this passage bring us immense hope as Christians?
  • What might it look like for you to live with the hope of God's active involvement in the day to day affairs of your life?


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 passage deals with the doctrine of providence of God—relationship between events of day to day life and God’s involvement in them. Emphasize the fact that God’s presence was with David, even in his humble beginning as Saul’s personal musician (1 Sam 16:18). David found favor in God’s, and Saul’s sight (1 Sam 16:22). God of the bible is not a distant and indifferent deity but He is actively involved in our day to day affairs. He is at work in our lives to establish His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Even though David was anointed to be a king, he faithfully submitted to God’s calling him to serve Saul until the day God had chosen him to rule as a king. David’s humility in serving Saul, and his loyalty to Saul teaches us the value of seeing our vocation as God’s calling in our lives.

    Furthermore, this passage shows us God’s dealing with His creatures—in this case, Saul. Be prepared for questions like, “how could a good and just God withdraw His Spirit from Saul, and allow a harmful spirit to torment him?” One way to approach the question is by classifying the theological and philosophical aspect of Saul’s torment seen in this passage. Theologically speaking, the people of Israel believed that nothing is beyond God’s control. Unlike our present day culture’s impulse to evaluate all historical events strictly under cause-effect relationship, the Isrealites skipped the intermediary causes by focusing on God as the ultimate cause. In other words, the ancient Isrealites did not consider it important to outline secondary causes. Thus, for the people in Saul’s day, God as the ultimate arbitror, was justified in sending a harmful spirit to torment Saul as a punishment for his rebellion. Philosophically speaking, Saul’s torment could evoke questions about the existence of evil. Emphasize the fact that the Bible responds to the question of evil by exposing the nature of sin as the ultimate origin of pain and suffering in the world. In Saul’s case, the signs of his mental anguish appear immediately after his confrontation with Samuel. Saul’s torment, in other words, is the direct result of his rebellion against God’s authority. Saul’s self-centered- ness had inevitably led to self-annihilation. 

    Question 2: In his first sermon, Jason talked about the similarity between David and Jesus’ apparently insignificant anointing as God’s chosen ones. In this passage, we see the similarity between David and Jesus’ humble calling and introduction to their roles. In his gospel, the Apostle John describes Jesus as the Word—through whom all things were created. Jesus, the Son of God, becomes flesh and dwells among us (cf. John 1:2,14). We learn about the humble birth of Jesus in the gospels. Like David, Jesus’ introduction was apparently insignificant; however, Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were eternally and providentially planned by God. Furthermore, like in David’s life, we see the hand of God in Jesus’ life as well.

    David’s humble calling points us to Jesus’ humble calling. David’s humble reliance on God points us to Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father. David, although was anointed to be the king, does not refuse to serve Saul. He faithfully serves Saul until God’s appointed time to be exalted as the king of Israel. David’s devotion to his call points us to Jesus’ devotion to His call—to be the Savior of the world, even if it meant to take the form of a servant, to suffer the shame of the cross and the wrath of God. God exalted Jesus—the greater David, and has bestowed on Him the name that is above all names (cf. Phil. 2:9-11). 

    Question 3: 1 Samuel 16:14-23 is about God’s call, and providence in David’s life. In your discussion, emphasize on David’s heart with respect to his introduction as a servant in Saul’s court. What could be going on in David’s heart as he walked into the palace, not as the anointed king as he was promised to be, but as a servant? How would you respond if you were in David’s situation? In this passage we see David’s devotion to his work, and his loyalty to Saul. We also see God honor David by bestowing His presence, and providentially involving in David’s day to day affairs. David not only alleviates Saul’s distress through his music, but he also finds favor in Saul’s sight, and is promoted as an armor bearer. God calls us to be diligent in our efforts, faithful in our calling, and to glorify Him in all that we do. Encourage moments of introspection to diagnose their hearts with respect to their work— are they content or discontent with their work? 

    Question 4: As mentioned above, this passage deals with God’s providence— the relationship between events of day to day life, and God’s involvement in them. David’s work as a musician in Saul’s court provides a snapshot of the outworking of God’s providence in the lives of His people. This passage shows us that God is actively involved in the mundane affairs of life, and that He ultimately ordains all things together—both good and the bad, to achieve His purpose in our lives. All this to say, our humble reliance on God’s providential care ought to bring us immense comfort and hope to navigate the challenges of life. Emphasize on the hopefulness of work as God’s calling in our lives. Focus on the joy of working as the hands and feet of God in the life and mission of the church.