A new day dawning

SUBTLE CHANGES

Saul has developed a pattern of disregarding the advice of the priests and building his own altars.  Samuel the prophet had rebuked his foolishness and predicted the end of his kingdom.  The people fear the prophet, knowing the Lord is angered, and indeed a change is in the works.  Saul can be expected to resist the prophet, even to be dangerous at this point.

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.  And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.  And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.  And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?  And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.  1 Samuel 16:1-5

The Lord was angry with the people, and with Samuel too, since he was disappointed to see Saul rejected.  God wanted Samuel to see leadership through eyes of faith instead of the worldly view.  God arranges a meeting with a family of destiny.  Samuel considers the young men as possible leaders as he meets them.

And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.  But 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.  Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.  Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.  Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.  1 Samuel 16:6-10

Samuel cannot see the hearts of the young men so he has no idea where to find the leader in this family.  There remains only the runt of the litter, David.

And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.  And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. 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 brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.  1 Samuel 16:11-13

So the fair youth is anointed with no fanfare or understanding of his destiny.  But the predestination of God does not fail to provide a path for coming events.  The Holy Ghost is no longer guiding Saul and he is haunted by other spirits.  Saul’s servants recognized the trouble God was causing for Saul as his mind became troubled.  They suggest a music maker to sooth the savage beast in his mind.

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.  And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.  Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.  And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.  Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.  1 Samuel 16:14-18

A man of war?  This is not the little boy portrayed in many versions of this story.  The king’s  servants may have been aware of David’s fight with wild animals to protect his sheep.   He sounds like a man Saul would have chosen for his army, and he is agreeable to bring him to his court.

Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.  And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.  And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.  And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.  And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:19-23

David could sell you a used Yugo automobile.  God anointed his personality and his music to find favor with man and with Saul.  He was considered warrior enough to be the king’s armor carrier.  He was now a familiar part of the court as Saul got to know and like him.  The spirit of God was no longer guiding Saul though, and his problems continued.

Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.  And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.  And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.  1 Samuel 17:1-3

We have seen the Philistines before, and God had given the victory to Saul before.  There was something different this time though.

And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.  And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.  And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.  And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.  If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.  And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.  1 Samuel 17:4-10

Well this guy Goliath  has excellent credentials doesn’t he?  He speaks as a man of the world, self confident and experienced.  The problem is that experience is limited to our small life, not the eternal and endless wisdom of God.  Christ confidence trumps self confidence as we will see.  The Captain of the Titanic had excellent credentials too.  So do many leaders of our nation today, and we are still waiting for some real wisdom to come along.

When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.  Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul.  And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.  And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.  But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.  And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.  1 Samuel 17:11-16

Saul, Samuel, and Israel had been looking on the outward signs of leadership up to this point.  Saul had been the one who stood taller than the group up to now.  He was the “Hulk Hogan” of his day, but now we had an “Andre the Giant” on the scene.  If we only understand carnal warfare, the situation is now grim, with no champion in sight. 

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