1 Samuel 16

Samuel Goes to Bethlehem

1 Now the LORD said to Samuel, "1How 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 4Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have 5selected a king for Myself among his sons."
2 But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "6Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.'
3 "You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and 7I will show you what you shall do; and 8you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you."
4 So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to 9Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "10Do you come in peace?"
5 He said, "In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. 11Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they entered, he looked at 12Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before Him."
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, 13but the LORD looks at the heart."
8 Then Jesse called 14Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either."
9 Next Jesse made 15Shammah pass by. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either."
10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are these all the children?" And he said, "16There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep." Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here."

David Anointed

12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with 17beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, "18Arise, anoint him; for this is he."
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and 19anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and 20the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
14 21Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and 22an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.
15 Saul's servants then said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you.
16 "Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that 23he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well."
17 So Saul said to his servants, "Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me."
18 Then one of the young men said, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, 24a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and 25the LORD is with him."
19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David who is with the flock."
20 Jesse 26took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat, and sent them to Saul by David his son.
21 Then David came to Saul and 27attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer.
22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight."
23 So it came about whenever 28the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart 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 28

  • 1. 1 Samuel 15:35
  • 2. 1 Samuel 13:13, 14; 1 Samuel 15:23
  • 3. 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1; 2 Kings 9:1
  • 4. Ruth 4:17-22
  • 5. Psalms 78:70, 71; Acts 13:22
  • 6. 1 Samuel 20:29
  • 7. Exodus 4:15; Acts 9:6
  • 8. Deuteronomy 17:14, 15; 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 9. Genesis 48:7; Luke 2:4
  • 10. 1 Kings 2:13; 2 Kings 9:22; 1 Chronicles 12:17, 18
  • 11. Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10
  • 12. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 13. 1 Samuel 2:3; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Luke 16:15
  • 14. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 15. 1 Samuel 17:13
  • 16. 1 Samuel 17:12; 2 Samuel 13:3
  • 17. Genesis 39:6; Exodus 2:2; Acts 7:20
  • 18. 1 Samuel 9:17
  • 19. 1 Samuel 10:1
  • 20. Numbers 27:18; 1 Sam 10:6, 9, 10
  • 21. Judges 16:20; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 18:12; 1 Samuel 28:15
  • 22. Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:15, 16; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9; 1 Kings 22:19-22
  • 23. 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9; 2 Kings 3:15
  • 24. 1 Samuel 17:32-36
  • 25. 1 Samuel 3:19
  • 26. 1 Samuel 10:4, 27; Proverbs 18:16
  • 27. Genesis 41:46; Proverbs 22:29
  • 28. 1 Samuel 16:14-16

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Lit "say to you"
  • [b]. So with Gr; Heb He does "not" see "what man sees"
  • [c]. In 2 Sam 13:3, "Shimeah;" in 1 Chr 2:13, "Shimea"
  • [d]. Lit "take"
  • [e]. Lit "stood before him"
  • [f]. Lit "he"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 16

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