1 SAMUEL 16:1 – 18:30 and LUKE 15:1–32
1 Sam 16
The Lord told Samuel to no longer mourn for Saul seeing that he has been rejected from reigning as king. The recent events had to have been a disappointment and burden for Samuel. The Lord had to remind Samuel that Saul is now rejected so there was no benefit in mourning over him. This reminds us about the Lord having mercy on whom He will have mercy (Rom 9:15). We must know the mind of the Lord on these things. Overall we are to be merciful to people; in so doing we will receive mercy.
There are times when God may give revelation concerning those who may have crossed a line. Esau sought repentance but could not receive it (Heb 12:16-17). The spirit man within us must know the mind of the Lord otherwise our emotions may interfere with God’s will concerning a person. Saul had opportunities but he failed in the area of obedience. The Lord earlier made clear that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another (1 Sam 13:14). That time is at hand as Samuel is now told to fill his horn with oil so that he could anoint one of the sons of Jesse. God is gracious in revealing to Samuel the timing, the place and the family from which the king of God’s choosing would be taken. Samuel had a concern as to how Saul would react if he came to know of the matter to which the Lord responded by calling for a sacrifice. He could do this due to making offerings throughout his circuiting while away from the tabernacle.
Samuel came to the house of Jesse and immediately spotted the son that surely God had chosen to be king. The Lord made clear that God assesses people differently from the outward appearance. He looks at the heart (vs 7). On several occasions in 1st Samuel we have referenced the criteria for a true king and priest. It is the matter of the heart (1 Sam 2:35, 13:14). All the sons of Jesse passed by and yet the Lord had not chosen any of them.
There was yet one son faithfully tending his father’s sheep. He was sought for and upon coming into their midst was affirmed by God as being the next king. As soon as David was anointed the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. It appears that there was a simultaneous departure of the Spirit of the Lord that was removed from Saul (vs 13-14). This was followed by Saul being afflicted by an evil spirit. Herein we see a truth that needs to be considered. With the departure of the Spirit of God a vacancy opened up for another spirit to fill. This is the casualty of sinning against truth and light; the end result may well be the removal of His presence.
We have seen in Romans 1 what happens when the Word of God is not handled in truth; when God’s Word is turned into a lie or a people are unthankful. It affects the heart which can quickly become hardened and calloused. Such a heart makes room for other spirits to operate seeing that God no longer has a place in such a heart. Saul had experienced the Spirit of God upon his life but now he has lost it through continued disobedience. To make matters worse he is now afflicted by an evil spirit. The men of Saul recognized that he was afflicted so they suggested someone who was anointed in music to play before him. David had a reputation that went beyond being a faithful shepherd. He apparently was well known as a skilled and anointed musician.
Saul was refreshed and delivered from the evil spirit as David played before him. It was because of David that Saul lost the anointing and became afflicted with an evil spirit and it is because of David that Saul gets delivered from that same spirit. The ways of God are truly amazing. For now the relationship between David and Saul was strong. This will not last for long.
1 Sam 17
The Philistines once again gathered against Israel to do battle. This time they had a champion who went before them, an imposing figure by the name of Goliath. He was a giant of Gath, perhaps one of the Anakims that Joshua dealt with in his battles (Jos 11:22). It is estimated that Goliath was over 11 feet in height. He had to be a very strong man to carry 500 shekels of brass as his coat which is estimated to be about 156 pounds. There was no one in Israel of such stature. He daily taunted and challenged the armies of Israel.
Saul and the armies were paralyzed and in great fear. This was very similar to the threat of the Philistines in the time when Jonathan and his armour-bearer went to battle as seen in chapter 14. During this time we see David faithfully tending his father’s sheep. The battle continued daily for about 40 days with Israel still under the intimidating challenges of Goliath. David is sent to the frontline of the battle on behalf of his father to deliver some food. We see David faithfully leaving his father’s sheep in capable hands. This speaks volumes as to the character of David. If David takes such care regarding sheep how much more when it comes to the presence of God?
It so happened that when David arrived he heard the threats of Goliath. He also witnessed the cowardice of the armies of Israel. David asked the question as to what would be done to the man who deals with Goliath. He took issue that such a person, no matter how imposing can get away with defying God’s people. He took this challenge as a personal affront against God. We need to note the response of the elder brother who was probably already offended in being passed over. It is a similar scene with Joseph and his elder brothers. Eliaib accuses David of pride and for shirking his responsibility with the sheep. He was wrong on both counts. David was not deterred; he saw nothing wrong in asking his questions. His persistence eventually won him another audience with Saul.
David stated boldly that he would go forth to do battle against the giant. In the natural there was not much seen in David that would convince anyone in his ability to win such a fight. David was able to draw from his work related experience as a faithful shepherd. On two occasions the sheep he was responsible for were under threat; once by a lion and another time by a bear. On both occasions God gave him the ability to destroy them. Why should this uncircumcised Philistine who continually defies God and Israel be any different? This is one of the beautiful truths regarding work related experiences. There is so much that can be gleaned from our day to day responsibilities which one day may prove pivotal during a crisis. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. If we learn to find and appropriate grace on a daily basis it will help us in time of great need.
I am calling to mind the children of Israel’s inability to possess the land when God told them to do so. Why was this? There were giants in the land much like Goliath who intimidated them and struck fear into their hearts. Why did they not go up, why did they fail this ultimate test? It was because they failed the day to day tests in the lead up to that momentous opportunity (Num 14:22). David did not fail his daily tests of faithfulness. As a result he was qualified to go up against this giant. He had experience that could be drawn from. Let us not fail to appropriate the daily provision of manna (grace) that God provides. We will either remain paralyzed like Saul and Israel or be bold like David in taking the battle to the enemy. There was a reason why God chose David, he saw and knew his heart.
The enemy had great disdain for David, in fact he felt mocked in being challenged by such a youthful warrior. Goliath turned up the heat in his mockery and rhetoric. We see a picture of the enemy being like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). What Goliath did not know is that David tore apart a roaring lion. This scene is captured by much of what is seen in Psalm 37, especially the latter verses:
Psa 37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Psa 37:36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
Indeed, Goliath must have resembled an imposing like figure like that of a large green bay tree with no apparent means in effectively dealing with him. But a few smooth stones later the threat is removed and done away with. The weapon seen above is the fruit of peace. Remember it is the peace of God that shall put Satan under the feet of the saints (Rom 16:20). We can say that David was also governed by peace as he presented himself before Goliath. In addition, we see the dispirited and confused state of the Philistines. In another similarity we later see Saul react with great jealousy and envy. This is the fruit of losing the anointing. We can understand why Jonathan and David became close; they had so much in common.
1 Sam 18
As seen over the last few chapters the similarities between Jonathan and David draw them both together. The relationship between Saul and David was very warm in its initial stages as well. Saul desired to keep David by his side, putting him in charge over the men of war. He was accepted in the sight of all the people while at the same time behaving himself wisely before Saul. The trouble between Saul and David took place when the women came out of the cities singing of David slaying ten thousands while Saul slew his thousands (vs 6-7). This infuriated Saul as the spirit of envy began to grip him. This is very typical when a person has lost their anointing. Remember; when David was anointed the spirit of the Lord left Saul (16:13-14). This was soon followed by an evil spirit coming upon him to fill the void. Saul is again afflicted when the praises of David are being sung. Saul targeted David from this day onwards. It is the Lord that allows the evil spirit to again come upon Saul (vs 10) to the point where he tries spearing David on two occasions. He clearly recognizes that the Spirit of the Lord was upon David while at the same time knowing that it had departed from him (vs 12).
We need to pause for a moment and reflect upon what has taken place. It is God who chose David to be the next king. As Samuel anointed David for his first of three anointing’s the Spirit of God came upon him (1 Sam 16:13). David was not yet king, only anointed to become the next king. Saul was still reigning at this time but there is a marked difference between them. Saul lost the anointing of the Spirit of God while receiving an evil spirit in its place (1 Sam 16:14). This evil spirit is now provoking David, the anointed one who will soon become king. It is something that God is allowing and it will prove pivotal in being part of David’s training for true kingship. With Saul we see the fruits of a man who was anointed of God to reign as a result of the people’s insistence for a king. He had early success but could not stand the testing of crisis leadership under pressure. The people insisted on a king before God had properly prepared such a man to reign. Saul is now showcasing the fruit of this mistake. God is going to allow David to go through extensive training in his preparation to rule. This will involve a wandering in foreign lands, a severing of friendships and the disdain of a king whom he chooses to serve. Through this phase of David’s wanderings we will see qualities come forth that demonstrate why God so loved the heart of this young man. If we open our hearts to David’s journey we should be able to gain perspective for own lives that will encourage and strengthen us.
After Saul turned on David we still see him behaving wisely before the king. This only causes Saul to fear him more. It is something that is difficult to reconcile seeing that Saul has attempted to kill David. Should not such a person retaliate; after all he does have the favour of the people? David did not do this, he faithfully served the king. We see the early stages of David recognizing Saul as God’s anointed figure over his life. He was right! It does not make sense that someone who is trying to kill him could be seen as God’s anointed but this is what distinguishes David from all others. He sees the hand of God at work. This should be instructive for us. It can be very difficult to understand and reconcile some of our day to day experiences yet it may be that God is allowing it for a greater purpose. This is indeed the case with David.
Saul sought to give his elder daughter to David in marriage but reneged at the appointed time by giving her to another. His younger daughter Michal loved David which pleased Saul. King Saul plotted this opportunity to be a means of getting rid of David by requiring the foreskins of 100 Philistine men. Saul thought that David would not survive in his attempt to secure this requirement for his daughter Michal. David saw this as an honor to be offered the daughter of the king and so went out and brought forth 200 Philistine men. David did not make excuses, he saw opportunities and God honoured his going forth and coming in. This attitude of honouring the king and behaving wisely caught the attention of the entire kingdom, not just Saul. It is an attitude we need to seek after especially when going through times of difficulty. Behaving wisely can be akin to the fruit of meekness, where we can see the hand of God at work in all situations.
There is one theme that is threaded throughout this whole chapter and it is on the subject of Restoration. Our God is a God who loves to take something that is broken and lost and see it wholly restored. This chapter contains three parables that reflect this quality of God. It begins with the Pharisees taking issue with Jesus spending time with publicans and sinners. The message that Jesus was sharing was gaining the attention of people that the Pharisees had no time for. Why would Jesus mix and mingle with sinners? As Jesus is moving closer to the cross the primary enemies or opposition seems to be composed of the so called “churched” people. The Lord was moving and working in unconventional ways that went against the grain of their mind-sets. This is a very real concern and danger for the church of our day. It has been said that the revival to come will be one that will extend to the backsliders. Will we have the heart and capacity to receive them? Our salvation is dependent upon a God who saw a precious relationship with man severed by sin. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit spared no expense in seeking to restore that which was lost. He did so because of His great love for man, even while yet in his sin. We are grateful He did that for us because we could never be where we are today. The Lord through this chapter refers to three things or people that were lost but later restored. The continuity of theme makes clear how precious and dear the message of Restoration is to the heart of God.
In verses 4-7 we have the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd is happy that 99 of the sheep are safe and secure but his heart longs for the one that is wayward and missing. I saw this attribute first hand in my pastor many years ago. After a Sunday night service where the presence of the Lord was so precious the Pastor was wondering why one of the young men of the church was not in attendance. (He never missed a service) He pursued the matter after service and discovered that he had befriended a person who in the end was very dangerous. The Pastor literally went to the home of the dangerous person and rescued this brother from what would have been a provocative and dangerous situation. The Pastor was threatened by this dangerous man but he held his ground and secured the church brother to safety. I never forgot this. It would have been easy to enquire the next day as to this brother’s whereabouts but my Pastor could not let it go. He was not content in letting it rest after a good church service; he went seeking for the lost and missing brother. It is a clear example of the lesson the Lord is teaching regarding the lost sheep.
In verses 8-10 we see the woman with a lost coin. What is the big deal in the finding of a missing coin? The Lord is emphasizing the point in how heaven rejoices at the repentance of just one sinner. Every soul is precious in the eyes of the Lord and we are to see each individual accordingly. We can look at a simple lost coin as being the value of one lost individual and maybe not think much about it. God and heaven sees it quite differently. Every soul is precious and we need to ask the Lord to help us to see people as He sees them so that we do all we can to help restore that which is lost.
Finally we have the familiar account of the prodigal son. This parable is one of the most popular and well known Bible Stories. We have no doubt heard many variations of this parable and have been blessed by them. You can take any of the three primary characters and develop a message around them. To me it is the picture of the father that sticks out the most. We see a son who makes demands concerning his inheritance in a premature fashion. It is like Israel demanding of God for a king as seen in 1 Samuel 8.
The Father in his wisdom makes clear that one day he will receive his inheritance but now is not the time. The same is true regarding Israel’s asking for a king. It was God’s intent to provide them a king but in His wisdom he makes clear that now was not the time and Saul was not the one of His choosing. The Father in both accounts makes allowance for what they wanted but it was not for their good.
Eze 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
Does the Father give up; does He simply say that you had your chance; you should have listened to me etc.? No, He still has a heart for that which was lost. In both cases the Father allowed the sons (The prodigal and Israel) to go through difficulties to hopefully learn the fruits of their errors. He does not give up on them but rather goes to great lengths to see them restored. In the case of the prodigal we see the Father ever loving His lost son but He waits for the son to come to the end of himself. The moment He sees his son take a step towards home He goes forth to meet him, to love him and to make a great feast for him. The Father had to allow the fruits of repentance to first become manifest otherwise the lesson would never be learned. This parable gives such a window into the heart of the heavenly Father. May the messages of Luke 15 sink deep within our spirit. Our God loves to take that which is broken and to make it whole. May our hearts be so enlarged!