Sermon on 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Text: 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.”
2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
7 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.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 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.”
12 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.”
13 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.
We are familiar with the name that is often put together with the name “Jesus.” The name that I am referring to is “Christ.” The Hebrew equivalent of this name is “Messiah.” Both “Christ” and “Messiah” mean “Anointed One.” Anointing was a process in the Old Testament in which an individual was set aside for a particular task. This setting aside was symbolized with oil being poured upon the chosen individual. In our readings for this morning, we have a series of anointings. While we will focus our attention on the Old Testament lesson, we will also look at the other lessons and see that THE LORD USES THE ONE HE CHOOSES. 1. His Choice May Not Be The Same As Ours. 2. His Spirit Sets Apart For His Service.
Our text begins with the LORD speaking to Samuel. He asked, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?” (Verse 1) Saul was the first king of Israel. Samuel had anointed him into this office. Saul started off as a godly king. However, as time went on, Saul decided to follow his own paths rather than obeying the Lord. Through Samuel, God told Saul that he would no longer be king. He would be replaced. Even though God had told Samuel to announce this to Saul, Samuel was still sad.
Rather than allowing Samuel to stew in his sadness, the Lord gave him a task to carry out. “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.” (Verse 1) A new king was needed for Israel and Samuel was to go and anoint Saul’s successor. So, Samuel went to Bethlehem and met with the elders there. Jesse and his sons were at the sacrifice that Samuel had come to make. It was there that Samuel saw the eldest of Jesse’s sons, Eliab. There must have been something about Eliab’s physical appearance and the way that he carried himself, for as soon as Samuel saw him, he said to himself, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” (Verse 6) Samuel was convinced that it was time to get out the oil.
God answered Samuel’s thought by saying to him, “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.” (Verse 7) In other words, God was telling Samuel that it was not all about the physical appearance of the man. To be sure, Eliab might have looked like a king, but God could see further than the outward appearance. God could look into the heart and see everything about Eliab. This is not to say that Eliab was an unbeliever. However, the Lord knew the measure of the man and Eliab was not the one that he wanted to be the next king of Israel. Next, the other six sons of Jesse passed in front of Samuel. Yet, Samuel said as each one came past, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” (Verse 8)
Finally, Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” (Verse 11) After all, God had told him to anoint one of the sons of Jesse and none of them that stood there was the one. Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest. He is tending the sheep.” (Verse 11) It is interesting to note that, if it had been up to Samuel, Jesse’s eldest son would have been anointed that day. If it had been up to Jesse, his youngest son wouldn’t have even been considered.
However, God’s choice wasn’t the same as theirs. So, Samuel told Jesse, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” (Verse 12) When David arrived, the LORD said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” (Verse 12) Though not the first choice of Samuel or Jesse, David was the one that the Lord had chosen.
We can see a parallel in the person of Jesus. Before Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, there was nothing that would have caught your eye about him. He was a humble carpenter from a little village in northern Galilee called “Nazareth.” If you were looking for someone to be the Anointed One, he probably would not have been on the top of your list. If you were looking for someone to lead Israel in a rebellion against Rome, you wouldn’t have looked to Jesus. Perhaps, you might have sought a religious giant like one of the Pharisees in Jerusalem. There were those who were wondering if John the Baptist might possibly be the Messiah. John quickly put that thought to rest by saying, “After me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11) These were all choices that people had considered.
However, God’s choice was not the same as mankind’s. God made it very clear that Jesus was his choice after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, the Father said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) This announcement that Father made was more than just a declaration of his love for his Son. By saying that he loved Jesus and was well pleased with him, the Father was announcing to the world that everything that Jesus had done up to this moment in his life was perfectly in conformity with the Father’s will. In other words, he had lived a perfect life. This was the first step in serving as the world’s Savior. He had to live a perfect life, since there is no one else in the world who is without sin. Jesus would continue to carry out his role as the Father’s Christ when he would suffer and die for the sins of mankind. He would complete his work when he rose from the dead. Though Jesus may not have been the choice of mankind to be our Savior, he was exactly the Savior that we needed.
By God’s grace, we have also been chosen to be his children. If you were choosing people that you wanted to be in your group, what kind of people would you choose? You might choose those who were influential in the community. You might choose those who were wealthy. You definitely would choose those people who were good to you. You would choose people who had something to offer to the group. Yet, was that the criteria that God used when he chose us to be his children? Did he choose the most influential or wealthy? Did he choose those who had something to offer to him? Did he choose us because of our great potential? Not at all. Did God choose on the basis of those who were loving to him? Absolutely not! You and I by nature are not loving toward God. We were born in rebellion against him. We continue to sin against him every day. You and I would not have chosen such to be around us, much less give anything to them. However, God’s choice is not the same as ours. God chose us to be his children before the creation of the world. God chose to love us so much that he sent his Son into the world to be our Savior. He chose to love us and made us his own through the working of faith in our hearts. As we are reminded in Titus 3:4&5, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” We thank God that he has chosen us to be his own.
There is another similarity between the anointings that we have been discussing this morning. It says in verse 13 of our text, “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.” The Spirit of the LORD came down upon David with power. From that day on, the Spirit would give David the gifts that he would need to serve in the special role that God was preparing him for. He would need patience as he waited for the time when he would be king. He would need to have a strong faith as he was on the run from Saul, who wanted to kill him. He would be given wisdom to rule. The LORD set David apart for the special role that he had chosen for him and, through the Holy Spirit, gave him what he would need to carry out that role.
We compare that to Jesus’ baptism. We are told that, as Jesus was coming up from the water, “The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.” (Luke 3:22) Again, there is more to this than just some sort of symbolism. Peter spoke of this event in Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and strengthened him for the task that lay ahead. He would face many temptations in the years that were in front of him. He would endure trials and tribulations. There would be the temptation to try a different way for mankind’s salvation. When Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in his baptism, his human nature received the strengthening that he would need to carry out his Father’s plan for our salvation. The Father set his Son apart and gave him what he would need to carry out his task.
You and I have also received the working of the Holy Spirit. The moment that you were brought to faith, whether through baptism as an infant or at a later stage in your life, the Holy Spirit entered into your heart and gave you everything that you need to carry out the tasks that lie in front of you. He has given you faith. Through that faith, your sins have been forgiven. Through this faith, you can now, out of thankfulness for all that God has done for you, say “No” to the temptations that enter your life. Because the Holy Spirit has created this faith in your heart, you know that God is with you every step of the way, whether it be in good times or bad. He continues to strengthen that faith as you make use of the Means of Grace, the gospel as proclaimed in his holy Word and the sacraments. Because of this faith, you have the assurance that heaven is waiting for you. Paul reminds us of the Spirit’s work as he writes in Titus 3:5-7, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” God has not only set us apart for the task of following him. He gives us the gifts and the strength to carry it out.
By means of anointing, people were shown to be the ones chosen for a special purpose. David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. Jesus was anointed at his Baptism and declared to be the Savior that the world needed. You and I were anointed at our Baptism to be the children of God. We thank God that he has chosen us to be his. We pray that he would use us in whatever way he wishes to bring glory and honor to him. We see that the Lord uses those he chooses. Amen.
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