1 Samuel 16

Listen to 1 Samuel 16

David Anointed King

1 The LORD said to Samuel, 1"How long will you grieve over Saul, since 2I have rejected him from being king over Israel? 3Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, 4for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."
2 And Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 5'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.'
3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. 6And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you."
4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city 7came to meet him trembling and said, 8"Do you come peaceably?"
5 And he said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. 9Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they came, he looked on 10Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before him."
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, 11"Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, 12but the LORD looks on the heart."
8 Then Jesse called 13Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."
9 Then Jesse made 14Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."
10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."
11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, 15"There remains yet the youngest,[a] but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, 16"Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here."
12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was 17ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, 18"Arise, anoint him, for this is he."
13 Then Samuel took 19the horn of oil 20and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. 21And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

David in Saul's Service

14 22Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, 23and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.
15 And Saul's servants said to him, "Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord now command your servants 24who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will 25play it, and you will be well."
17 So Saul said to his servants, "Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me."
18 One of the young men answered, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, 26a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, 27and the LORD is with him."
19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me David your son, 28who is with the sheep."
20 29And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul.
21 And David came to Saul 30and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight."
23 And 31whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre 32and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from 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 32

  • 1. 1 Samuel 15:35
  • 2. 1 Samuel 15:23, 26
  • 3. See 1 Samuel 10:1
  • 4. Psalms 78:70; Psalms 89:19, 20; Acts 13:22
  • 5. [1 Samuel 9:12; 1 Samuel 20:29]
  • 6. 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 7. 1 Samuel 21:1
  • 8. 1 Kings 2:13; [2 Kings 9:22]
  • 9. Joshua 3:5
  • 10. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 11. Psalms 147:10, 11
  • 12. 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 7:9; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12; [Acts 1:24]
  • 13. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 14. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 15. 1 Samuel 17:13; [2 Samuel 13:3; 1 Chronicles 2:13]
  • 16. [2 Samuel 7:8; Psalms 78:70, 71]
  • 17. 1 Samuel 17:42
  • 18. [1 Samuel 9:17]
  • 19. ver. 1
  • 20. [1 Samuel 10:1; Psalms 89:20]
  • 21. 1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 1 Samuel 11:6; See Judges 3:10
  • 22. 1 Samuel 18:12; 1 Samuel 28:15, 16; [Judges 16:20]
  • 23. 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9; [Judges 9:23]
  • 24. ver. 21, 22; 1 Kings 10:8
  • 25. 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9; [2 Kings 3:15]
  • 26. See 1 Samuel 17:32, 34-36
  • 27. 1 Samuel 3:19; 1 Samuel 18:12, 14
  • 28. ver. 11; 1 Samuel 17:15, 34
  • 29. [1 Samuel 17:18]
  • 30. See ver. 16
  • 31. ver. 14, 16
  • 32. [See ver. 16 above]

Footnotes 1

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.