So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah.
1. Not chosen according to the thoughts of men. Samuel, who at first hesitated to go to Bethlehem on so dangerous an errand as the Lord prescribed to him? when he did go was inclined to be over hasty. Assuming that a new king who should supplant Saul ought to be not inferior to him in stature and strength, the prophet at once fixed on Eliab, the eldest son in Jesse's family, as the one who should be the Lord's anointed. Here was a man able to cope with, or worthy to succeed, the almost gigantic son of Kish. But the Lord corrected his servant's mistake. The time was past for choosing a leader on the score of "outward appearance." The Lord sought for the regal position a man whose heart would be true and obedient. Now Eliab's heart, as the next chapter shows, was small, though his body was large; his temper was vain and overbearing. So he had to pass; and all his brothers who were present at the feast had to pass. Not one of them had such a heart as the Lord required; and it is a significant fact that we never read of any of these men in after years as playing any honourable or memorable part in the history of their country, unless the Septuagint reading of 1 Chronicles 27:18 be right, and the Eliab here mentioned held the office of a tribal chief under his royal brother.
2. Chosen according to the thoughts of God. When the young shepherd, being sent for by his father, entered the chamber with his bright hair and fair countenance, fresh from the fields, the Lord bade Samuel anoint him. "This is he." The selection of the youngest son is in keeping with what we find in many Bible stories. Divine choice traversed the line of natural precedence. The Lord had respect to Abel, not to Cain; to Jacob rather than to Esau; to Joseph above his eider brethren. Ephraim was blessed above Manasseh; Moses was set over Aaron; Gideon was the youngest in his father's house. In this there is something so pleasing to the imagination that it has passed into the tales and legends of many nations. Of three brothers, or seven brothers, it is always the youngest who surpasses everyone, accomplishes the difficult task, and rises to be a king. David's superiority to his brothers was intrinsic, and the result not of luck, but of grace. The Lord had drawn his heart to himself in the days of youth. Accordingly, where such men as Saul and Eliab were weak David was strong. He revered and loved the Lord, and could therefore be depended on to do God's will. "To whom also," says Stephen, "he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfil all my will." The last clause in this extract shows what is intended by the one which goes before. David was a man after the Lord's heart in loyally doing his will. He was not without fault; he certainly displeased God more than once; but he thoroughly apprehended what Saul never could understand - that a king of Israel must not be an autocrat, but should without question or murmur carry out the paramount will of God. In this respect David never failed. He had many trials and temptations, afflictions that might have made him discontented, and successes that might have made him proud; but he continued steadfast in his purpose of heart to be the Lord's, to consult the Lord about everything, and carry out his revealed will.
3. Prepared in retirement for future eminence. There is a sort of augury of his career in his father's words, "Behold, he keepeth the sheep." Saul first came before us going hither and thither in search of asses that were astray, and not finding them. So, as a king, he went up and down, restless and disappointed. But David kept the flock intrusted to him, and, as a king, he shepherded the flock of God. "So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands."
(1) As a shepherd David formed habits of vigilance. He had to think for the flock, lead the sheep to pasture, see that they were regularly watered, watch that none strayed or were lost, and look well after the ewes and the tender lambs. All this served to make him in public life wary, prudent, thoughtful for others, a chieftain who deserved the confidence of his followers. Saul bad little or none of this. He went to and fro, and fought bravely, but evinced none of that unselfish consideration for his people which marks a kingly shepherd. David showed it all through his career. He watched over his subjects, thought for them, instructed and led them. Near the end of his reign he committed an error which brought disaster on Israel; and it is touching to see how the true shepherd's heart was grieved that the flock should suffer through his fault. He Cried to the Lord, "Lo, I have sinned, and have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done?"
(2) As a shepherd David proved and improved his courage. Shepherds in Palestine, in those days, were obliged to protect their flocks from prowling beasts of prey. How many encounters of this kind David may have had we do not know; but we learn from himself that, while yet a stripling, he had fought and slain both a lion and a bear rather than give up one lamb or kid of the flock. His was the best sort of courage - natural intrepidity of a true and brave spirit, sustained and elevated by unquestioning trust in God. While encountering the wild beasts in defence of his flock David was being fitted, though he knew it not, to face an armed giant in behalf of Israel, and in many battles afterwards to beat down the enemies of his country. The springs of his courage were in God. "Jehovah is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?"
(3) As a shepherd David had leisure for music and poetry. As he kept the sheep he learned to play on his harp with a skill which was the occasion of his first rise from obscurity; and he composed and sang sweet lyrics, pious and patriotic. Whether he looked up to the sky, or looked round on the hills and valleys, or recalled to mind famous passages of his nation's history, everything gave him a song to Jehovah. Every poet writes juvenile pieces, which, though defective, show the bent of his genius; and in after years, if he has not rashly published them, he is able to recast them into new and more perfect forms as his mind grows and his skill improves. So, doubtless, the son of Jesse, in the pastoral solitude at Bethlehem, began to compose lyrics which in more mature life, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he threw into the forms of those Psalms which carry down his fame to the end of time. What a contrast to the unhappy son of Kish! Saul had the impulse of music and song upon him more than once; but he had to be acted on by others, and his own spirit had no inward harmony. As the years advanced his life became more and more unmelodious and out of tune; whereas David's early addiction to devout song and minstrelsy prepared him to be something better than a gruff warrior in his manhood. Born with genius and sensibility, he grew up a man of some accomplishment, and when called to the throne, elevated the mental and spiritual tone of the nation, and was, through a long reign, himself a very fountain of musical culture and sweet poetic thought.
4. Anointed without and within. Samuel anointed the youth outwardly, pouring oil over his head; Jehovah anointed him inwardly, for "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." The old prophet is a figure of John the Baptist, another Nazarene, and one who came to prepare the way of the King. David suggests Another, a descendant of his own, born in the same Bethlehem, and, like himself, lightly esteemed. As Samuel poured oil on the head of David, so John poured water on the head of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Then Samuel retired from view. So John too retired, and made way for him whom he had baptized. "He must increase, but I must decrease." The parallel goes still further. David had been a child of grace, but on that day the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he got what Samuel could not impart - a Divine qualification for the work and dignity to which he was destined. Jesus had been holy, harmless, and undefiled from his mother's womb; but on the day of his baptism the Spirit, as a dove, descended and rested upon him, and he got what John could not impart - the Divine qualification of his humanity for the work and dignity to which he was destined as the Christ, the Lord's Anointed. "Now know I that the Lord sayeth his anointed." Therefore He will save us who follow the King. Only let the name of the King be our watchword, his righteousness our righteousness, his strength our strength, his mind our mind, his anointing our anointing. So shall we see him and be with him in his kingdom and glory. - F.
The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.
I. IT BEGAN LIKE ANY ORDINARY DAY. No angel trumpet heralded it; no faces looked out of heaven; the sun arose that morning according to his wont over the purple walls of the hills of Moab. With the first glimmer of light the boy was on his way to lead his flock to pasture lands heavy with dew. His father and brothers had followed their pursuits and pleasures in almost total disregard of the young son and brother who was destined to make their names immortal. He had borne it all in patience. It was a genuine pleasure to feel that the family circle in great Samuel's eyes was not complete till he had come He therefore left his sheep with the messenger, and started at full speed for home. Let us so live as to be prepared for whatever the next hour may bring forth. The spirit in fellowship with God, the robe stainlessly pure, the loins girt, the lamp trimmed. The faithful fulfilment of the commonplaces of daily life is the best preparation for any great demand that may suddenly break in upon our lives.
II. IT WAS THE CONSUMMATION OF PREVIOUS TRAINING. We must not suppose that now, for the first time, the Spirit of God wrought in David's heart From his earliest days, David had probably been the subject of His quickening and renewing work; but he had probably never experienced, before the day of which we treat, that special unction of the Holy One symbolised in the anointing oil, and indispensable for all successful spiritual work. Our Lord was born of the Spirit; but His anointing for service did not take place till at the age of thirty, when on the threshold of His public work, He emerged from the waters of baptism. The Apostles were certainly regenerate before the day of Pentecost; but they had to wait within closed doors until they were endued with power for the conversion of men. This blessed anointing for service cannot be ours, except there has been a previous gracious work on the heart. There must be the new life — the life of God. The descending flame must fall upon the whole burnt offering of a consecrated life.
III. IT WAS MINISTERED THROUGH SAMUEL. The old prophet had conferred many benefits on his native land; but none could compare in importance with his eager care for its youth. Saul, in the earlier years of his manhood, felt the charm and spell of the old man's character. The descent of the oil was symbolical; in other words, it had no spiritual efficacy, but was the outward and visible sign that the Spirit of God had come mightily on the shepherd lad.
IV. IT WAS A DAY OF REJECTION. Seven of Jesse's sons were passed over.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. The first period gives an example of inspiration in the WORLD OF ART. In the wilds of Sinai Moses received the command to build the tabernacle, and to prepare the vessels for holy ministry; the voice Divine saying with much impressiveness: "See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount." "The Jews alarmed that an ark of fire and a table and lamp stand of fire came down from heaven to Moses as patterns, and that Gabriel, clothed as a workman, showed Moses how to make them." But this is a needless and clumsy invention; nor can we think of the gentle presence-angel descending to earth in the guise of a grimy Vulcan. Comparing this commission with that given to David, we find the true interpretation: "All this the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern." But the task of embodying the types shown to Moses fell to humbler minds and hands. God's "Where art thou?" seldom fails to bring out the man for His service; and in this case it drew out of obscurity the first sod only great artist that Israel ever produced; and the name and effigy of Bezaleel, the son of Uri, appear on the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park among the greatest sculptors and painters known to fame. It is remarkable that the inspiration of Bezaleel is mentioned most clearly and fully three times over, more emphatically than that of any man in the Scriptures. Statuary was not permitted in Israel until the days of contact with the Assyrians, and so one department of art was excluded; but in the very varied work connected with the construction and ritual of the tabernacle there was scope enough for the large inspiration of the great artist. What a striking witness to the existence of the religiousness of true work lingers among us in the common word "calling" — a man's daily task regarded as a Divine appointment! The builders of our ancient minsters have long commended this spirit to later times; and in such truth and patience Bezaleel wrought his holy task. It may be that an undesigned proof of the religious spirit of this artist is to be found in the chapter following the account of his call and equipment. When the people madly cried, "Up, make us gods," the too compliant Aaron, who lacked not the family genius, was ready for the task; and when the moulded calf was brought forth, it was he who gave it the finishing touches with a graving tool. Is it not natural to ask how it came to pass that his nephew Bezaleel was not employed in this shameless violation of the first commandment? Is it not fair to conclude that he firmly declined to debase his gifts in such a service, and that, like the Hebrew confessors of an after time, he refused to bow down to the golden image? The gifts of the world's greatest artists have been consecrated to the service of the Church, and he who would see their highest proofs of genius must visit the noble temples of Christendom. Shall we deny a Divine inspiration to these men? It is said of the Spanish painter, Juan Joannes, that he first received the sacrament before commencing any great work; of Fra Angelico, that he never put his brush to the canvas without kneeling on the floor of his cell to ask help of God; of John of Fiesola, that all his tasks were inspired by religion, and in earlier days Paulinus of Tyre was called the second Bezaleel. Nor have the "evangelists of art" ceased from among men. The pictures of Holman Hunt and Noel Paten have touched thousands whom a sermon flies. Let us own that "the worlds of science and of art" are both revealed and ruled by God, and let us pray for the artist as well as the preacher, that he may be so touched by the simple story of Bethlehem and the pathos of the cross, and so moved by the Holy Ghost, that he may in turn move the hearts of multitudes.
II. The next instance of secular inspiration belongs to the IRON AGE OF THE JUDGES — a troubled, restless time, that called not for the artist, scarcely for the prophet (for the voice of Deborah alone breaks the long silence between Moses and Samuel), but the soldier with his gifts of prowess and courage. The inspiration of the great chiefs of that period is distinctly asserted. The lesson of Horeb is still needed by the nations, that what Hazael's sword of war could not effect should be done by Jehu's sword of justice, and what this could not smite should fall before Elisha's two-edged blade of truth. But though war is not the mightiest force, it has unquestionably played a great part in the history of the world, and an honourable part when it has been waged, not in wrath and ambition, but in defence of country and conscience. Surely we may believe that Joshua is not the only soldier to whom the heavenly Warrior has appeared, that Gideon is not alone in his claim to wield the sword of the Lord, and that the book of Joshua does not contain the last of the wars of the Lord. If we allow Heaven's inspiration to a man like Jephthah, it is not irreverent to claim it for Gustavus Adolphus, whose motto was, "God is my armour"; for our Alfred the Great, who felt himself to be the instrument of the Eternal; for Francis Drake, who said when he stepped on board his tiny craft to meet the thundering fleets of Spain, "I have put my hand to the plough, and by the grace of God I shall never look back." History records few nobler utterances than the reply of William of Orange to Governor Sonoy: "You ask me if I have entered into a firm treaty with any king or potentate; to which I answer, that before I ever took up the cause of the oppressed Christians in these provinces, I had entered into a close alliance with the King of kings; and I am firmly convinced that all who put their trust in Him shall be saved by His almighty hand," Truly
The peace of heaven is theirs, that lift their swords
In such a just and charitable war.
III. We pass to the DAYS OF THE KINGS for a third example of secular inspiration. Saul turned his steps homeward after his memorable interview with the grand old king-maker. As the elect of God drew near the company of prophets the Spirit of God came mightily upon him, and he began in almost a paroxysm of inspiration to join in their sacred exercises. The importance of that high visitation is strongly marked by two statements: God gave him "another heart," and he was "turned into another man." These expressions must not be charged too strongly with theological meanings; they are rather assurances that the awkward peasant, trembling at the destiny awaiting him, was then and there endowed with gifts befitting the head of the nation. The same high inspiration came to the second king of Israel. No sooner had the anointing oil fallen on his head than it is recorded that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." God's cruse of holy oil is not yet exhausted, nor are all His great commissions given out. Shall we allow, as we are bidden, that Cyrus the heathen was called and girded by God, and deny the gift and calling of Heaven to that young English Daniel who ere he was little beyond his teens guided the labouring ship of state through the wild white waters of England's most perilous days?
Young in years, but in sage counsel old,
Than whom a better senator ne'er held
The helm of Rome.Without irreverence we may believe that the Divine call which drew David from the sheepfolds to guide the destinies of his country, brought forth that poor country lad from the far wilds of the west, and made him the occupant of the White House, that he might do that deed of glory which sheds undying lustre on his rule — the freeing of the slave.
1. Remember first, man is a spirit. We know him as body, as we know electricity by a shock from a battery or a message from a distant friend, or as we know chemical force by its effects. But the body is only the wire along which the spiritual electricity runs, the case in which the actual watch ticks, the pipes and reeds through which the soul of the organist thrills us, the cage in which the bird sings, the tent in which the man dwells. The man is not in the till but in the character, not in the nerve but in the conscience, not in the sense but in the regal will, not in "the outward appearance" but in "the heart."
2. Remember next, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Spirit builds spirit. Soul makes soul. "Man does not live by bread alone" — he cannot live without it, but he does not live the life of a man by it, "but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Standing in full view of these eternal principles you are not surprised that the Hebrew historian, with an exuberant enthusiasm and an unquestioning assurance, accounts for David — for all he was and all he did — by the simple and comprehensive statement, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" — came decisively and clearly, and continued to come with character-building energy for evermore. With similar prominence does this fact bulge in all David's references to himself. "Thy humility," i.e., Thy condescension, Thy eagerness to dwell in the heart that is contrite, to guide the spirit that looks for Thy leading, to give strength to those that fight for Thee, to reward all those who serve Thee — this hath made me great. But decisively and fully as this exposition of the upbuilding is given in the Hebrew Scriptures it does not content us. We still ask for light as to the way along which the universal Spirit of God came to, and took possession of him, the method by which the diverse materials of his nature were completed into a spiritual and vital unity, and the processes used in raising them to their maximum of energy and serviceableness. The anointing of David was not only the designation of a successor to Saul; it was also the crowning and perfecting of the long influence of Samuel on David's heart and character. Josephus suggests that as the consecrating oil bathed the flowing locks and fell on the garments of the lad, the prophet "whispered" his kingly destiny in his ear, and so set his whole soul aflame with Divine ambitious, far-reaching yearnings, and oppressive and goading solicitudes. Certainly such Divine whispers have often been heard from human lips. Does not Hugh Miller fix the moment, as one of mental regeneration is which he was roused to the consciousness of the possession of a power superior to that required in shaping stones? Did not Henry Martyn start on a new and higher career after he had been made aware of his possibilities, and inspired by a friend to say, "I verily think I may do something, and I will set about it?" Were not the germs of the new life infused into Saul of Tarsus as he gazed on the angelic patience and undying devotion of Stephen, the first of Christian martyrs? It is God's law. He does not dispense with the human, He uses it. Man is saved by man. The Incarnation and the Cross are the type and pattern of all life, and of all ministry, and of all progress. God flows through man to man. Samuels anoint Davids.
(J. Clifford, D. D.)
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