Originally posted by member "Nancy" 2002
This Bible Background was referred to by other posters, so we're keeping it here, with some small edits. Additional Life Application Questions have been added by Neil. You are welcome to reply/improve on this post.
The Anointing of David
1 Samuel 16:1-13
And the LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul when I have cast him aside from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have seen Me among his sons a king.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? For should Saul hear, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and you will say, “To sacrifice to the LORD I have come. And you will invite Jesse to the sacrifice. And I Myself shall let you know what you must do, and you will anoint Me the one that I say to you.”
And Samuel did what the LORD had spoken, and he came to Bethlehem, and the elders of the town came trembling to meet him and they said, “Do you come in peace?” And he said, “In peace! To sacrifice to the LORD I have come. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And Jesse purified his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. And it happened when they came that he saw Eliab and he said, “Ah yes! Before the LORD stands His anointed.” And the LORD said to Samuel, “Look not to his appearance and to his lofty stature, for I have cast him aside. For not as humans see, does God see. For mortals see with the eyes, and the LORD sees with the heart.”
And Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, and he said, “This one, too, the LORD has not chosen.” And Jesse made Shammah pass by, and he said, “This one, too, the LORD has not chosen.” And Jesse made his seven sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are there no more lads?” And he said, “The youngest still is left, and look, he is tending the flock.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him, for we shall not sit to eat until he comes here.” And he sent and brought him. And he was ruddy, with fine eyes and goodly to look on.
And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is the one.” And Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of the LORD gripped David from that day onward. And Samuel rose and went to Ramah. (translator, Robert Alter, from The David Story.)
David is chosen as a leader of the people, not because of appearance or family connections, but because God has looked into his heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b “For the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through the one who strengthens me.”
- Students will learn the story of David, a shepherd boy, who is chosen to become king over Israel.
- Students will discover that God looks at individuals from the heart. God doesn’t determine our worth by our appearance or by our achievements. God looks at our hearts, our motivations, our desires, who we are on the inside.
- Students will understand that God can use anyone. Regardless of our wealth, power, intelligence, social status, physical appearance, God’s grace can work through us to bring about change in the world.
- Students will understand that God works in the world through the actions and choices of individual people.
- Students will understand that he/she is a child of God, chosen by God, beloved of God.
Are these narratives to be read as historical monographs? Or are they strictly the stuff of legend, an ancient Hebrew version of the King Arthur legends? Gerhard von Rad argued that the core David story marks the beginning of history writing in the Western tradition.
The unsparingly realistic portrayal of David with all of his human flaws does point toward an historical core. At the same time, the narrative clearly contains fictional characteristics (interior monologues, private dialogues, literary allusions to other biblical texts).
Robert Alter writes that to reduce the narratives to either a narrow historical writing or merely a fictional work robs the texts of its theological vibrancy. They are a MESSAGE FROM GOD to all generations. The writer incorporates historical characters with narrative imagination to convey a depth of insight best savored.
Does being chosen mean being perfect? Hardly. Samuel, the chosen prophet of God, is a cranky, bumbling figure. His sons are corrupt and, despite his wishes, they are not chosen to follow in his footsteps. In several instances Samuel’s own judgment is dubious at best. David, although beloved of God, cooperates with the Philistines, commits adultery and conspires to murder, and struggles to maintain control over his own household. These are important facts to convey to students wondering how THEY can be chosen by God.
The narrative in 1 Samuel will contrast the flawed “seeing” of the prophet Samuel, with the “seeing” of God. Verse seven can be translated as the LORD sees “with” or “in” the heart (16:7). Either translation underscores the difference between human judgment and divine wisdom.
The lowliness of David is underscored by his late birth, not even the seventh son (an important number), but the eighth son of Jesse. He is so lowly that when Jesse is asked to present his sons, he does not even bother to bring David. In contrast with Saul’s father, David’s family is not prominent or wealthy. (9:1) His great-grandmother was a foreigner, a Moabite not an Israelite. Nothing in David’s background would hint at his future status as the beloved king of Israel.
Life Application Questions from Neil
Young children may have difficulty understanding HOW God might choose them, WHAT God would choose them FOR, and what that call might SOUND or LOOK like --how it would come to them. Those would be three good questions for them to try and answer:
There are two issues with call.... the general call to discipleship, and the specific call to special duty. David received both. Apparently he was part of a worshipping family, as we see in the story when Samuel comes to worship with Jesse and his sons.
God called David to both a specific job and set of behaviors, and to a relationship. You might say that it was David's relationship with God that saved him when his behaviors fell short.
Each child is called to faith. No excuses for their youth. David was called when he was a boy.
And like David, each child will be called to special service. This call might be to a moment in time, or a particular situation, or to a long-term project like David's kingship.
The call is sometimes specific and has a sharp sense of "do this" about it. Some might even say it was a "voice" they heard.
The call is often made through the community of the Church, just as it was made through Samuel. All calls need to be discerned so that they are not merely in one's own head. The characteristic of the call often helps identify it. We know we are usually not called to do the easy thing, or the cheapest thing.
Often "the call" is to something the person/child didn't expect. (David didn't expect it).
Often the call is to something difficult. It forces decisions and has consequences.
Sometimes the call is to ACTION in a situation we'd rather not get into. Other times the call is to a lifelong path.
CALL TO "LESSER" DAVIDS
Does God call people who "aren't exactly a person after God's own heart?" Absolutely. God can call all sorts of people to be part of his plan. Saul is one great example.
Questions you might ask:
- What is a "general" call from God?
- What are some specific calls God may call you to?
- What things help prepare us to RECOGNIZE God's voice/call to us?
- Did David's Call happen as a voice in his head? How did it happen?
- How do you know the call is really from God and not just an idea in your head?
- Do you think David ever doubted his call?
- What kept making David feeling confident of his call to be King?
- What relationship are you called to have with God?
Psalm 23 is widely regarded as a Psalm of David... expressing David's faith through darkest valleys. It's words express how his faith was sustained. READ IT.