Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
1Sa 16:1-10. Samuel Sent by God to Bethlehem.
1. the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul—Samuel's grief on account of Saul's rejection, accompanied, doubtless, by earnest prayers for his restitution, showed the amiable feelings of the man; but they were at variance with his public duty as a prophet. The declared purpose of God to transfer the kingdom of Israel into other hands than Saul's was not an angry menace, but a fixed and immutable decree; so that Samuel ought to have sooner submitted to the peremptory manifestation of the divine will. But to leave him no longer room to doubt of its being unalterable, he was sent on a private mission to anoint a successor to Saul (see on 1Sa 10:1). The immediate designation of a king was of the greatest importance for the interests of the nation in the event of Saul's death, which, to this time, was dreaded; it would establish David's title and comfort the minds of Samuel and other good men with a right settlement, whatever contingency might happen.
I have provided me a king—The language is remarkable, and intimates a difference between this and the former king. Saul was the people's choice, the fruit of their wayward and sinful desires for their own honor and aggrandizement. The next was to be a king who would consult the divine glory, and selected from that tribe to which the pre-eminence had been early promised (Ge 49:10).
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.
2. How can I go?—This is another instance of human infirmity in Samuel. Since God had sent him on this mission, He would protect him in the execution.
I am come to sacrifice—It seems to have been customary with Samuel to do this in the different circuits to which he went, that he might encourage the worship of God.
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.
3. call Jesse to the sacrifice—that is, the social feast that followed the peace offering. Samuel, being the offerer, had a right to invite any guest he pleased.
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?
4. the elders of the town trembled at his coming—Beth-lehem was an obscure town, and not within the usual circuit of the judge. The elders were naturally apprehensive, therefore, that his arrival was occasioned by some extraordinary reason, and that it might entail evil upon their town, in consequence of the estrangement between Samuel and the king.
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.
5. sanctify yourselves—by the preparations described (Ex 19:14, 15). The elders were to sanctify themselves. Samuel himself took the greatest care in the sanctification of Jesse's family. Some, however, think that the former were invited only to join in the sacrifice, while the family of Jesse were invited by themselves to the subsequent feast.
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him.
6-10. Samuel said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him—Here Samuel, in consequence of taking his impressions from the external appearance, falls into the same error as formerly (1Sa 10:24).
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.
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.
1Sa 16:11-14. He Anoints David.
11. There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep—Jesse having evidently no idea of David's wisdom and bravery, spoke of him as the most unfit. God, in His providence, so ordered it, that the appointment of David might the more clearly appear to be a divine purpose, and not the design either of Samuel or Jesse. David having not been sanctified with the rest of his family, it is probable that he returned to his pastoral duties the moment the special business on which he had been summoned was done.
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.
12. he was ruddy, &c.—Josephus says that David was ten, while most modern commentators are of the opinion that he must have been fifteen years of age.
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.
13. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him—This transaction must have been strictly private.
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
14-18. The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him—His own gloomy reflections, the consciousness that he had not acted up to the character of an Israelitish king, the loss of his throne, and the extinction of his royal house, made him jealous, irritable, vindictive, and subject to fits of morbid melancholy.
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.
Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
19. Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David—In the East the command of a king is imperative; and Jesse, however reluctant and alarmed, had no alternative but to comply.
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.
20. Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them … unto Saul—as a token of homage and respect.
And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
21. David came to Saul—Providence thus prepared David for his destiny, by placing him in a way to become acquainted with the manners of the court, the business of government, and the general state of the kingdom.
became his armour-bearer—This choice, as being an expression of the king's partiality, shows how honorable the office was held to be.
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.
23. David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well—The ancients believed that music had a mysterious influence in healing mental disorders.