1 Samuel 16

Samuel Anoints David

1 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.

David in Saul’s Service

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the LORD tormented him.
15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”
17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”
18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”
19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”
20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.
22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”
23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

1 Samuel 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

Samuel sent to Bethlehem to Jesse. (1-5) David is anointed. (6-13) Saul troubled with an evil spirit, is quieted by David. (14-23)

Verses 1-5 It appears that Saul was grown very wicked. Of what would he not be guilty, who durst think to kill Samuel? The elders of Bethlehem trembled at Samuel's coming. It becomes us to stand in awe of God's messengers, and to tremble at his word. His answer was, I come peaceably, for I come to sacrifice. When our Lord Jesus came into the world, though men had reason to fear that his errand was to condemn the world, yet he gave full assurance that he came peaceably, for he came to sacrifice, and he brought his offering with him; A body hast thou prepared me. Let us sanctify ourselves, and depend upon His sacrifice.

Verses 6-13 It was strange that Samuel, who had been so disappointed in Saul, whose countenance and stature recommended him, should judge of another man by that rule. We can tell how men look, but God can tell what they are. He judges of men by the heart. We often form a mistaken judgment of characters; but the Lord values only the faith, fear, and love, which are planted in the heart, beyond human discernment. And God does not favour our children according to our fond partiality, but often most honours and blesses those who have been least regarded. David at length was pitched upon. He was the youngest of the sons of Jesse; his name signifies Beloved; he was a type of God's beloved Son. It should seem, David was least set by of all the sons of Jesse. But the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. His anointing was not an empty ceremony, a Divine power went with that instituted sign; he found himself advanced in wisdom and courage, with all the qualifications of a prince, though not advanced in his outward circumstances. This would satisfy him that his election was of God. The best evidence of our being predestinated to the kingdom of glory, is, our being sealed with the Spirit of promise, and experience of a work of grace in our hearts.

Verses 14-23 Saul is made a terror to himself. The Spirit of the Lord departed from him. If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the Divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul, by the corrupt humours of his body, and passions of his mind. He grew fretful, peevish, and discontented, and at times a madman. It is a pity that music, which may be serviceable to the good temper of the mind, should ever be abused, to support vanity and luxury, and made an occasion of drawing the heart from God and serious things. That is driving away the good Spirit, not the evil spirit. Music, diversions, company, or business, have for a time often been employed to quiet the wounded conscience; but nothing can effect a real cure but the blood of Christ, applied in faith, and the sanctifying Spirit sealing the pardon, by his holy comforts. All other plans to dispel religious melancholy are sure to add to distress, either in this world or the next.

Cross References 34

  • 1. S 1 Samuel 8:6; S 1 Samuel 15:35
  • 2. S 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:23
  • 3. S 1 Samuel 10:1; 2 Kings 9:1
  • 4. S Ruth 4:17; 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 5. 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:8; 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Chronicles 12:23; Psalms 78:70; Acts 13:22
  • 6. Exodus 4:15
  • 7. S Deuteronomy 17:15; 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 8. S Genesis 48:7; Luke 2:4
  • 9. 1 Samuel 21:1
  • 10. 1 Kings 2:13; 2 Kings 9:17
  • 11. S Exodus 19:10,22
  • 12. 1 Samuel 17:13; 1 Chronicles 2:13
  • 13. Psalms 147:10
  • 14. S 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Samuel 7:20; S Psalms 44:21; S Psalms 139:23; S Revelation 2:23; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 55:8
  • 15. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 16. 1 Samuel 17:13; 2 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 21:21
  • 17. 1 Samuel 17:12
  • 18. S Genesis 37:2; 2 Samuel 7:8
  • 19. 1 Samuel 9:17
  • 20. S Genesis 39:6; 1 Samuel 17:42
  • 21. S 1 Samuel 2:35; S 2 Samuel 22:51
  • 22. 1 Samuel 18:12; Numbers 27:18; Judges 11:29
  • 23. S 1 Samuel 11:6">1Sa 1 Samuel 11:6; 1Sa 10:1,6,9-10; 1 Samuel 11:6
  • 24. S Judges 16:20
  • 25. ver 23; S Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 18:10
  • 26. 2 Samuel 7:15
  • 27. ver 23; S 1 Samuel 10:5,6; 2 Chronicles 29:26-27; Psalms 49:4; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9; 2 Kings 3:15
  • 28. S Ruth 4:17
  • 29. 2 Samuel 17:8
  • 30. S Genesis 39:2; 1 Samuel 3:19; 1 Samuel 17:32-37; 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Chronicles 22:11; Matthew 1:23
  • 31. 1 Samuel 17:15
  • 32. S Genesis 32:13; S 1 Samuel 10:4; 1 Samuel 10:27; Proverbs 18:16
  • 33. S Genesis 41:46; Proverbs 22:29
  • 34. S ver 14; S Judges 9:23; ver 14-16

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "and a harmful" ; similarly in verses 15, 16 and 23

Chapter Summary


In this chapter Samuel is ordered to anoint a king among the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem, 1Sa 16:1-5 all whose sons were made to pass before him, excepting David, 1Sa 16:6-10 who being then with his father's sheep, was sent for and was anointed, 1Sa 16:11-13, after which the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and he became melancholy, and it was advised to seek out a musician for him, and David was mentioned to him as a proper person, 1Sa 16:14-18 upon which he was sent for, and acted as a musician to Saul, and also became his armourbearer, which was the first rise of him, 1Sa 16:19-23.

1 Samuel 16 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.