The First Book of Samuel

Chapter 16

Samuel, sent by God under pretense of a sacrifice, comes to Beth-lehem, 1-5. His human judgment is reproved, 6-10. He anoints David, 11-14. Saul sends for David to quiet his evil spirit, 15-23.

1 And the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go, I will send you to Jesse the Beth-lehemite, for I have provided 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, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' 3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint to me him whom I name to you." 4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming and said, "Do you come peaceably?" 5 And he said, "Peaceably. I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and called them to the sacrifice.

6 And it came to pass when they had come, that he looked on Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his countenance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees—for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one." 9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, "The LORD has not chosen this one." 10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these." 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your children here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he keeps the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he has come here."

12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and also of a beautiful countenance and a good appearance. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he." 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 15 And Saul's servants said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubles you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek a man who is a skillful player on a harp. And it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon you, that he will play with his hand, and you will be well." 17 And Saul said to his servants, "Provide me now a man who can play well and bring him to me." 18 Then one of the servants answered and said, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite who is skillful in playing, a mighty valiant man, a man of war, prudent in matters, and a handsome person, and the LORD is with him." 19 Therefore, Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send to me David your son, who is with the sheep." 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a bottle of wine and a kid and sent them to Saul by David his son. 21 And David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Let David, I pray you, stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight." 23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp and played with his hand. Then Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Samuel, Chapter 16[➚]


[v.1] - "a king among his sons" - This is initially pointing to David, the son of Jesse, but ultimately, this verse points to Christ. David is the son of Jesse and Christ is a descendant of David. The genealogy of Christ in Matthew, ch. 1 and Luke, ch. 3 shows the lineage of David to Christ. God ordained that the throne of David would be established forever through his lineage (2nd Samuel 7:12-16). No man is truly worthy enough to hold a throne forever, not even David (Acts 13:34-37); however Christ, the Son of the living God, He is eternal and is the King of kings to hold the throne for eternity. When Gabriel came to Mary to tell her of her coming miraculous conception of Jesus, he said to her, "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David" (Luke 1:32).

[v.7] - "the LORD looks at the heart" - The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart is where God must judge man. Jesus made this more clear to His disciples in Matthew 15:18-19 when he told them, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart evil thoughts proceed: murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies." God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), meaning that He does not take into account a person's skills, talents, or self-perceived goodness. Instead, He judges the intent of the heart. Christ, again, demonstrated this in His sermon on the mount when He rightly interpreted the law of Moses to His listeners (Matthew 5:21-48).

[v.19] - In this verse, we can see God's providence at work. David was brought to Saul, at his request, to help him with the affliction of the evil spirit sent by God. In verse 22, we see that David has found favor in Saul's sight. The thing to note with this passage is that David has now found favor in the sight of king Saul and that David is to gain the throne of the kingdom, as shown in verse 1.