I Samuel 16 Conflicting Spirits – Saul And David.
There is “a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4a). The LORD told Samuel that he had mourned long enough over Saul, especially when he was a bad choice to begin with. The LORD wanted Samuel and the people to move forward to accomplish the kingdom work that lay ahead. To this end the LORD chose the one who would be their leader – a man who would obey. Samuel feared the possible wrath of Saul if he knew the purpose of his journey. He was not asked to lie, for he was also traveling to Bethlehem to offer sacrifice, at which time the LORD would point out the one whom he had chosen to be anointed as king (vv. 1-3).
The elders did not know whether Samuel came in judgment or for peace. They must have been relieved to learn that he came to offer a sacrifice. All they had to do was to set themselves apart for this purpose, especially Jesse and his sons (vv. 4-5). Even Samuel was looking at appearances as he speculated on whom the LORD had chosen, “but the LORD looks at the heart” (v. 7). All seven of Jesse’s sons pass before Samuel until they are left with David, the youngest, who was tending the sheep. They had already decided it couldn’t be him because they had to pick someone to tend the sheep while they attended to this important matter (vv. 8-11a).
Samuel believed the word spoken by the LORD, and as a command to him he would not rest until all possibilities were exhausted. From mere appearances, no one imagined that the LORD would pick someone so young. While they could see potential in one who was “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking,” only the LORD could see his heart that was ready and willing (vv. 11b-12). One can just imagine the thoughts of his older brothers as they saw David being anointed by Samuel. However, as with Saul, so now with David, the Spirit also came upon him, but unlike Saul it remained from that day forward. Then Samuel returned to his home (v. 13).
As the Spirit came upon David, even so he left Saul, and in his place a distressing spirit was sent (v. 14). This was a time when even servants understood how God moves upon men (v. 15). Whether out of genuine concern for Saul, or because of fear for what he would do under this condition, the servants suggested that they find a skillful player of the harp that this spirit might leave him, to which Saul agreed (vv. 16-17). Although the LORD saw David’s heart, it turns out that there was also much in appearance and reputation of character which also commended David. The important thing which the servants recognized was that the LORD was with him (v. 18).
All that Saul knew was that David was a shepherd, and so he demands of Jesse that he send the boy to him to play the harp (v. 19). Jesse must have wondered what would happen, especially if Saul found out that David was the new king. To this end he had sent gifts with David. Saul loved David so much, providing as he did relief from the distressing spirit, that Saul made him his armorbearer. To this end he also asked Jesse to have David stand before him as his right hand man. Here we see the sovereign hand of God opening the door for the new king who also found favour with Saul. Their wait was over, for the LORD made a way.