1 Samuel 16: 6-13
Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’
Butthe Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks at the heart.’
Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse then made Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, ‘Nor has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’
‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered. ‘He is tending the sheep.’
Samuel said, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.’
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
God says to Samuel: "I’ve got a new man I want you to go and anoint as King." He has personally hand-picked a man who will take over from Saul. It’s not random selection, it’s not a case of ‘I suppose he will do’ or ‘any of those 5 men, I don’t really mind.’ No, God hand picks, personally selects people for certain tasks at particular times. It’s not about chance or happenstance or circumstance or coincidence – it’s about God's providence, His sovereign control over all times and all things.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT) says:
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
God is looking for people – not famous people, not powerful people, not beautiful people – but ordinary, everyday people whose hearts are fully committed to Him. He’s searching, His eyes are closely examining every country, every city, every town and village, every street, every home, every family, every church, every classroom, every factory, every office. He’s looking, searching for those individuals whose hearts are fully committed to him. There’s may not be a lot of them, but there’s always some. And when God finds them, He says: 'There’s a girl I can use, there’s a man who could do that job for me, there’s a woman who could do great things for me, there’s a boy who could lead my people.'
And that’s exactly what happened with a young boy, just 12 to 15 years old named David.
God sends Samuel to a man named Jesse in Bethlehem who has 7 sons. Well actually he’s got 8 sons, but one of them is not really worth mentioning. He’s the youngest, he's a nobody. And while we’re at it, Bethlehem was basically a hole in the hedge. It’s only famous because of Jesus being born there, but at the time of David it was literally a hick village, it was so small and insignificant the closest Tesco was over an hour away. McDonalds was an hour and a half away. It was that sort of place.
Samuel gets to Bethlehem and tells Jesse, “Bring all your sons down, we’re going to worship God together.”
God has told Samuel it will be one of Jesse’s son’s he will anoint as King – He just hasn’t told him which one yet.
Why didn’t God just tell Samuel which son up front?
Because that not the way God works. He rarely gives us the whole picture all at once, He just gives us bits of it. And as we obey the bit He gives us, then He gives us some more. It’s never A-Z with God; it’s more like A-B-C-D and eventually you get to Z if you keep doing what God tells you. Obey God in the small things or when you don’t fully understand what He’s up to, and eventually it’ll all become a bit clearer.
So Jesse get his boys down to meet Samuel.
“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD.”
The oldest son Eliab comes in first and he is one fine looking specimen of a man. Like a cross between Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaghy and....let's throw Craig Cooney into the mix....
Immediately Samuel thinks: 'He’s the one.' He starts pulling out the oil and is about to anoint Eliab.
But God says: 'STOP! He’s not the one I’ve picked.'
Just a thought here: By appearance alone Eliab probably resembled Saul more than any of the others – he was the oldest, he looked good, probably nice and tall as well - and so Samuel thought: it must be him. Samuel hadn’t really learned a lesson from Saul’s failure – he was just going by externals and would have been happy to appoint another man just like Saul even though Saul had been such a disaster.
How often we don’t learn lessons from our mistakes or experience. There’s people who get out of one bad relationship and immediately start going out with someone exactly the same as their last boyfriend or girlfriend.
Some of us watch others fail and make a mess in some area of their lives, and then a short time later go and do exactly the same thing as they have done.
Or we walk out of one job because we hate it and end up walking into another job which we end up hating just as much.
God wants us to learn from our mistakes and from other’s mistakes, so that we don’t just repeat the same messes over and over again.
Look at what God says to Samuel:
“But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
We are so impressed by externals. We don’t even think about it, but we treat people and make assumptions about people is very much based on one thing: their appearance. Yet God doesn’t care about any of this. When God looks at us it’s as if none of those things exist. He sees literally right through all of it and sees right into our hearts.
That can be comforting, but it can also be frightening - God sees our hearts. The hidden motives. The secret thoughts. The deepest desires. God sees them all.
Everyone else looked at Elaib and thought – he must be the king, look at how good he looks. But he’s not God’s choice for King. Neither is the next son, or the next, or the next. In fact all 7 sons parade before Samuel and God says no to all of them.
By this point Samuel is just a wee bit confused. He’s probably about to say: 'Can we start with the oldest one again, just in case.' But just by chance he asks Jesse: 'So this is definitely all your sons?'
And Jesse says: 'Well, pretty much, I mean there’s David, but don’t worry about him. He’s not important, he’s just the wee shepherd boy.'
Samuel says: Go get him.
“So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.”
David was the youngest son and to his dad and brothers, he was basically a nobody. In those days only slaves and servants were shepherds, not sons. It was the lowest of the lowest jobs. That’s how much they thought of young David. He wasn’t even invited to the sacrifice with Samuel even though Samuel had explicitly said to Jesse: 'Invite ALL your sons.'
He was seen as so insignificant, so unimportant, he hadn’t accomplished anything, he didn’t have much to offer – so he was just ignored and forgotten about.
Do you ever feel like that? Ignored, under-appreciated, forgotten about? Like everyone else is more significant than you.
Take heart - that's how David felt.
But God hadn’t forgotten about him. God had noticed him. When he was out on the hillside, all alone, keeping smelly sheep, playing his harp and singing songs to God – He got God’s attention.
God can find you. God’s database is always up to date. His address book is always current. David may have been in obscurity, in the back end of nowhere – but God knew exactly where to find him.
God can find you in Coleraine or Calcutta, Dublin or Dubai, Portadown or Paris. You don’t need to cajole or manipulate or jockey for position – God can find you. He knows where you are.
And God saw something in David that nobody else did. He saw David’s heart. And he saw that David had a heart after God’s own heart. We'll look at exactly what that means tomorrow,