Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 16

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Saul and David (c 16-31)
Message: Samuel Anoints David as King (v 1-35)

1 Samuel 16 Commentary

(16:4-5) Samuel Sanctifies Jesse - The elders were afraid because they knew of the split between Samuel and Saul, and they did not want repercussions. Samuel "sanctified" Jesse and his sons to prepare them to come before God in worship and to offer a sacrifice. (For more on this ceremony, see Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10, 14; and the note on Joshua. 3:5.)

(16:7) Character Not Appearance - Saul was tall and handsome--an impressive-looking man. Samuel may have been trying to find someone who looked like Saul to be Israel's next king, but God warned him against judging by appearance. When people judge by outward appearance, they may overlook quality individuals who lack the particular physical qualities society currently admires. But appearance doesn't reveal what people are really like or what their true value is.

Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not appearance. And because only God can see what's on the inside, only he can accurately judge people. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner character. While everyone can see your face, only you and God know what your heart really looks like. What steps are you taking to improve the attractiveness of your heart in God's eyes?

(16:13) A Secret Anointing - David was anointed king, but it was done in secret; he was not publicly anointed until much later (2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3). Saul was still legally the king, but God was preparing David for his future responsibilities. The anointing oil poured over David's head stood for holiness. It was used to set people or objects apart for God's service. Each king and high priest of Israel was anointed with oil. This commissioned them as God's representatives to the nation. Although God rejected Saul's kingship by not allowing any of his descendants to sit on Israel's throne, Saul remained in his position until his death.

(16:14) God Allows the Enemy to Attack Saul - What was this evil spirit the Lord sent? Perhaps Saul was deeply depressed. Or perhaps when the Holy Spirit left Saul, God allowed an evil spirit (or a demon) to torment him as judgment for his disobedience (this would demonstrate God's power over the spirit world; see 1 Kings 22:19-23). Either way, Saul was driven to madness and paranoia, which led him to attempt to murder David.

(16:15-16) Harps Are Used - Harps were popular musical instruments in Saul's day, and their music is still known for its soothing qualities. The simplest harps were merely two pieces of wood fastened at right angles to each other. The strings were stretched across the wood to give the harp a triangular shape. Simple strings could be made of twisted grasses, but better strings were made of dried animal intestines. Harps could have ten to thirteen strings and were louder than the smaller four- or eight-stringed instruments called lyres. David, known for his shepherding skills and bravery, was also an accomplished harpist and musician who would eventually write many of the psalms found in the Bible.

(16:19-21) David Grows in His Calling - When Saul asked David to be in his service, he obviously did not know that David had been secretly anointed king (16:12-13). Saul's invitation presented an excellent opportunity for the young man and future king to gain firsthand information about leading an army and building a nation. Sometimes our plans -even the ones we think God has approved have to be put on hold indefinitely. And sometimes our plans get interrupted or don't develop as quickly as we desire. Like David, we can use this waiting time profitably. We can choose to learn and grow in our present circumstances, whatever they may be.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Lord Looks on the Heart


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 16. In our text, we see Samuel anointing David as King even as Saul sits on the throne, and in God's plan, David joins Saul's staff. What catches my eye today is when the Lord chose David, although he was the least physical of Jesse's sons. When the Lord instructed Samuel of His Choice, He told him that man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. The heart of a man is one of his most enduring traits, as it motivates him to do great things. Today man spends countless dollars improving his outward appearance when he should be spending time in the Lord's Word yielding his heart to its teachings. How about you? Do you focus on the outer man or the inner man? Let us learn from our text today and remember that man looks on the outward man, but the Lord looks upon the heart.


1 Samuel 16

1 Samuel 16

 1And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

 2And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

 3And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

 4And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

 5And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.

 6And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.

 7But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

 9Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

 10Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

 11And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

 12And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. 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 brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

 14But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

 15And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

 16Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

 17And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.

 18Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

 19Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

 20And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.

 21And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.

 22And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.

 23And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.