The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’
In the Old Testament there was a tradition of pouring oil over the head of a person who was chosen by God for a special task. This ritual pouring of oil was called ‘anointing’.
1 Samuel 16:6-7
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’
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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
Eliab was the eldest son of Jesse and most people would have assumed that if God wanted a son of Jesse to be anointed king it would be the eldest one. This is what Samuel assumed, but God had other ideas. David, the youngest son of Jesse wasn’t even there at this point because he was looking after sheep. Jesse had to send for David to come and then Samuel anointed David.
The choice of David is in stark contrast to the previous choice of Saul. Saul’s appearance and height suggested that he would make a good king, but God saw things differently:
‘People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
This is a principle that runs through the Bible and is also very important for us today. In Mark 7, Jesus criticises the Pharisees severely because they were more interested in outward appearances than the more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness.
What is most important to us? Is it religious traditions? Is it educational qualifications or degrees? Is it the decoration of the place where we live? Is it the car we drive? Is it the brand names (or lack of brand names) of the clothes we wear? Is it the gadgets we use? Is it the number of friends or followers on social media that we have? Is it the cosmetics we use? Is it our sporting abilities or level of fitness?
The good news is that God sees past all these things. He loves us whatever we look like on the outside. And he is looking for people who will love him and obey him.
The story of David: Part 4 Read 1 Samuel chapters 16 to 20.