1 Samuel 16:1-13 God Raises the Pure Hearted from Oblivion to Greatness

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” 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, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There 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.”

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.


Samuel’s grieving has reached an impasse and God had to step in to facilitate a new beginning for Israel. God commanded Samuel to appoint a new king only this time it is based on God’s criteria and not man’s. David had none of the stately appearance befitting a king but only a heart that is found pleasing to God. The purpose of David’s anointing was kept secret, and David himself could not grasp the full significance of that act. Even though David’s appointment was not formally made known, the infusion of the Holy Spirit is all that is required to help him find his calling as king of Israel.


How long will you grieve over Saul – There is no indication that Samuel is falling into a state of continual grief and depression. However, it seems that Samuel needed a nudge from God to snap out of his sentiments and disappointments towards Saul. God put it this way, “… since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?” which is indirectly saying that He has already turned a new chapter and Samuel being His prophet should  do likewise. Samuel probably did not expect this as he saw the noble side of Saul and viewed him positively after he had victory over Nahash, the Ammonite king. God is closely acquainted with Samuel’s emotional state and gently chided him to enter into a new chapter for Israel.

Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons – God’s instructions for Samuel is succinct and decisive for He has appointed a new king for the prosperity of Israel. However, anointing a new rival king is dangerous business for which God had provided a pretext for his journey to the house of Jesse. The purpose of Samuel’s visit is to involve the family in a purificatory rite for the purpose of a sacrifice.

Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him – Samuel’s immediate reaction to Eliab’s stature betrays his yet reformed mind; for he still perceived and judge as a natural man would. God interjected while he was still mesmerized by Eliab’s appearance: God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Samuel continued to eyeball the sons that were present, but God had not chosen any of them. Jesse’s omission of David was very telling of his deem view of his youngest son whom he relegated to the task of tending sheep even at this very important occasion.

Arise, anoint him; for this is he – As David was summoned at Samuel’s request, God’s instruction to anoint David was swift and resolute. To the bewilderment of Jesse and the sons, David was anointed with oil before them. The appointment of David contrasted with Saul in a way that David had none of the physical assets as Saul had. The word used to describe David is “handsome”, which connotes divine favor, a radiance that is evident of a pure heart. However, the text showed no indication of Jesse being told of the purpose of the anointing. Neither did the text explicitly show that David knew about the appointment at the time when he was anointed. This is perhaps to keep in secrecy the plan of David’s ascension for fear that Saul may hear of it. Unless the ritual is used strictly only for the purpose of appointing kings to which the Old Testament did not explicitly state. Nevertheless, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is all that is required to cause David to rise from oblivion to greatness.


  1. The purpose of grieving is to prepare us to enter into a new chapter of our life – Grief is the emotional turmoil and suffering we feel after a loss; an intense disappointment, the end of a dream etc. Samuel grieved over lost time, of what could have been a prosperous Israel that would bring God’s righteousness into the world and he was sorely disappointment over Saul’s failure whom better things is expected of him. You may still be grieving over the betrayals, disappointments, and injustice of the past. However, all grieving must in time come to an end and bring us into a new chapter, a new beginning. The Spirit of Jesus grieves with us over our personal loss and hurts. Unlike natural grieving where one becomes more pessimistic of life, the Spirit gives us renewed hope and dependence on God towards a brighter future. Life in the Spirit, no matter how dark it is in the past is always getting brighter. Prophet Jeremiah says,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

  1. You don’t need to impress God, just be the right person, and He will seek you out – You don’t need marketing efforts in order to be noticed by God; you don’t need to be competitive in order to prove yourself; you just need to be true to your weakness and to do your level best to love God and the people around you. God will seek you out and anoint you for your unique calling. David had no standing even within his own family, deprived of his “face time” with Samuel, yet God is able to sieve through millions of people to locate David. Before God, all our hearts become apparent to Him, our appearance and our words carries no leverage. Therefore, we only need to do our level best on the tasks given to us today and do it well. The aim is not to reach higher positions, but to do our best in the things entrusted to us. However, we are to attain greater Christ-likeness in our wisdom, love, and confidence so that we are ever ready to do whatever He commands.
  2. No one, except yourself will be able to stop you from rising from oblivion to greatness – The concept of greatness and glory as seen by the world is antithetic to what is perceived in heaven. David through the anointing of the Spirit rose from oblivion to greatness and Jesus reflected this in His sermon, “So the last shall be first, and the first last” . Jesus meant to say that what seems small and insignificant on earth shall be viewed as great in heaven and the reverse is also true. Hence, we must never aim to be great in the eyes of man, but only in the eyes of God. Greatness as seen by the world is performance orientated. But greatness as seen in heaven’s perspective is measured by the virtues of our heart. Having established the true value of greatness, anyone could have the capacity to deal with himself and to put on the virtues of the Spirit. Hence, as the Holy Spirit anoints us, we begin to operate in the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. Putting on Christ’s virtues and power is our responsibility. However, how we would be used and the role that we play will be God’s prerogative.


  1. Are you constantly irritated or frustrated by the past incidents of betrayal and injustice? If God has turned a new chapter, you likewise should do the same and embrace new hopes and new dreams that He has prepared. By focusing our energy on understanding God’s new plans, we are weaned off from the loss of the old.
  2. Do you have a tendency to always hang onto a position or a title thinking that may lead you to greatness? Do you think that your talents and abilities are critical to your success? We must learn to delink success from natural capabilities and focus on putting on the virtues of Christ. In doing so, God will infuse us with His Spirit that will lead us from oblivion to greatness.

Dear Lord, I release my pain and allow them to come to the surface. Holy Spirit, come and feel my pain with me, the pain of disappointment, of lost time, of lost relationships, of misplaced trust, and help me to turn a new chapter. Anoint me with your Spirit, and fill me with your virtues and your power so that I could fulfill the tasks given to me. Use me according to your purpose and timing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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