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1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 – Samuel Anoints David King


The first story about David depicts him as God's chosen messiah.


This crucial passage plays a key role in the narrative. Its pivotal position as the central chapter in 1 Samuel suggests a number of corollaries:
  • The story is framed by Samuel's "horn of oil" used to anoint David (vv. 1, 13).
  • Following the anointing, David receives the "spirit of the LORD" (v. 13).
  • The next verse states that the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and was replaced by an evil spirit from the Lord, which tormented him (v. 14).
  • From this point on, David will be the central character in the story, not Samuel or Saul.
  • Thus, this chapter marks the transition from Saul to David, even though David will not become king for many chapters.
The elaborate process by which David is anointed--the procession of Jesse's seven sons before Samuel--serves to build dramatic tension as each of the sons is rejected. The suspense is relieved upon hearing of Jesse's youngest son, though we do not hear his name until after the anointing. There is, however, a more important reason for its inclusion. The process also serves to emphasize that David will be king solely because of God's choice: God provided David (v. 1) and indicated ("named" in NRSV) that David was the one (vv. 3, 12), in addition to rejecting Jesse's other sons (vv. 7-10).

God's choice of the youngest son is also theologically significant. In addition to being another of the "reversals" introduced in Hannah's song (chapter 2), this counterintuitive move is an Old Testament staple. Seth over Cain (who had murdered Abel), Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, Moses over Aaron, and Solomon over Adonijah, are just a few of the most important instances of younger sons whom God chooses to use. When this is coupled with the insight that God uses what is weak, and whose power is made perfect in weakness, as well (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10), the connections to Jesus the "Christ" (Greek for "messiah" or "anointed one") become clear.

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel Anoints David

16The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ 2Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name 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?’ 5He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’* 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 does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. 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.’ 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ 11Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

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