Key Verse: “The LORD said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
—I Samuel 16:7
I Samuel 16:1-13
“AND THE LORD SAID unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”—I Sam. 16:1
Samuel knew instinctively that while Saul acknowledged he was Israel’s king, he would not willingly consent to have any outsider anointed as his successor to reign, but would desire to retain that authority for members of his own family. Furthermore, Samuel was concerned that if his mission were known by the king, Saul would have him killed. Nevertheless, he harkened to the instructions the Lord gave, explaining to Jesse that one of his sons would be selected as Israel’s next king. Samuel “looked on Eliab,” Jesse’s eldest son, and said, “surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.”—vss. 2-6
Our Key Verse indicates that after Eliab was brought before Samuel, the Lord revealed to him that outward appearance is not always a sure token of the attitude that would be pleasing to God. Inner qualities such as heart intentions and devotion are much more reliable indicators of acceptability to the Heavenly Father.
In total, seven of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel, but all were rejected as manifesting some unfitness of heart which was not apparent to the outward observer, who might have concluded otherwise. Finally, Samuel inquired whether Jesse had any other sons. His youngest, David, while tending sheep, was brought forth and was anointed king as Jehovah’s choice.—vss. 8-13
Although the foregoing lesson is taken from an Old Testament narrative, it contains principles that apply to the elect church of Christ during the present age. Those who will be chosen as joint heirs with our Master during God’s soon to be established kingdom generally are not highly esteemed in the world. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (I Cor. 1:26) As footstep followers of our Head and Advocate, we require discipline now to prepare us for the future work of restoring mankind to all that was lost in Adam as a result of original sin back in Eden. Additionally, like David in his relationship to Saul, we will not reign immediately, but must wait for the “due time.”
Similarly, the anointing of David is a beautiful picture of the anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, and the Spirit which was poured upon the church at Pentecost. This seems to imply that we too must be filled with a knowledge of God’s will and a desire to obey it in all aspects of our lives. As his Spirit, or holy influence, is received into good and honest hearts it becomes manifest in the thoughts, words, and actions of the children of God. It helps to fit and prepare them for a position in that wonderful kingdom that is so near at hand. What a glorious prospect!