God’s pick for a nation’s leader
1 Samuel 16:1–13
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.”
The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
The heart of the matter
If you were to pick a leader of a nation, who would you pick? It’s a timely question to ask since we’re about to have a Federal election. But I’m not about to tell you who to vote for, mainly because I’d like to see a friend’s cat become Prime Minister. I figure a cat couldn’t possibly do any worse! But it’s an interesting question to ask and think about from the Bible. What kind of characteristics would you want in a leader? Would you ever consider yourself representing someone else? What kind of a person would God want to represent him?
Well, long ago, around 1,000 years before Jesus was born, God’s people wanted a king who would fight battles and keep there country safe from their enemies. This created some problems, because God was their king, and he had kept them safe from enemies. But this wasn’t good enough for the people. They wanted a human king they could see and touch. God thought, “Fair enough! A king they want, then a king they’ll get.” So they got their first human king – Saul.
Things went well to start with. Saul was popular, tall, strong and handsome. The kind of person that would drive women crazy. He knew how to win battles as well, which was just as well. He bailed a few people out of trouble – even the ones who least deserved it.
But Saul turned out to be a bit of a basket case. It wasn’t long before all that kingly power rushed to his head, and he became too big for his own boots. Saul thought that he knew better then God, and no longer obeyed God like he use to. Samuel, who was God’s prophet, or spokesmen, caught Saul disobeying God red-handed. God didn’t want someone like that representing him! So Samuel told him, “On ya horse! God doesn’t want you to be king any more!”
Now this may seem a bit weird, but Samuel was very upset that God had rejected Saul. People had big hopes for Saul. They had hoped that through Saul they would become the nation that God intended them to be. Now their hopes were dashed, and Samuel was mourning over Saul and the great disappointment that he was.
God told Samuel to get over Saul, and go to a town called Bethlehem. Now this was a long time before Jesus was born, so Samuel wasn’t going to see Jesus, but he was looking for another King who was in fact Jesus’ great ancestor. Samuel didn’t know who he was looking for. All he knew was he was looking for a man named Jesse, because it was one of Jesse’s sons that God had chosen to be king. The question was, which one? There was 8 of them!
Samuel saw Jesse’s first son and thought, “That’s gotta be him!” He was the firstborn and so he was first to everything, and he certainly looked to fit the bill. Perhaps very similar to the first king. A leading candidate for the new king. It just made sense! But God said, “Nah, forget it! I’m not worried about what he looks like, or how popular he is, or what he can do. I’m only interested in what’s going on in his heart!” So Samuel looked at the second son. God wasn’t interested. Samuel looked at the third son. But no, God wasn’t interested. It would’ve made sense that any of these sons would be chosen as they were militant men (17:13). They knew how to lead an army, and protect their country. But none of them were chosen. And the same was said for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh son. God wasn’t interested.
Samuel was left scratching his head. He was sure God told him the new king was one of Jesse’s sons, but none of the sons Samuel saw was chosen. So Samuel turns to Jesse and says, “Are these all your sons? Is everyone here?” Jesse replies, “Well, there is one more, David. He’s down the back paddock minding the sheep. But you don’t mean him, do you?” See, David was the youngest son, which meant he was last in line for everything. He was such an unlikely candidate. He was young and inexperienced. He was a leader of sheep for goodness sake! How could he be the leader of an army?? What would he know about politics? or running a country? Now Samuel was making a sacrifice, which is kind of like a BBQ with God. People would get together, invite others, and a good hearty meal. At this sacrifice, Samuel was to pick out the new king. Jesse was so sure that David wasn’t in the running for the Kingship, David wasn’t even invited. Samuel tells Jesse to go get David. And the sacrifice is now put on hold for the one who wasn’t invited. And guess who the new king was to be? David! He looked nothing like king material, but God said to Samuel, “That’s him. Make David king”. And it didn’t matter what David looked like, or what he could or couldn’t do, because he was empowered by God’s spirit. David was God’s choice to represent him despite what he could or couldn’t do, or what he looked like.
You know, in many ways, David’s great descendant was the same. Of course, I’m talking about Jesus. Jesus was born in a shed, not a fancy palace. He grew up in a rough neighbourhood. He wasn’t recognised by authorities as a teacher. Jesus wasn’t a political leader. And according to one prophet, Jesus wasn’t much to look at either (Isaiah 53:2). Yet, it was Jesus that God sent to represent himself, and to be king over his people. Jesus didn’t do this on his own. Jesus was also empowered by God’s spirit. Not to guard God’s people from their enemies, but to guard them from God’s wrath at the final judgement. Jesus can do this because he is one with God. Jesus is God! So Jesus represents God perfectly.
But did you know God still has representatives today? God has hundreds of them. Thousands of them! Do you know who some of them are? It’s us! God has chosen us to represent him, to show other people what he is like, and to tell others who God is. WHOA! But you might think, “Now hang on a minute. I can’t do a whole lot. I can’t even get out of bed without someone helping me!” You know what? That doesn’t matter. Because God is the one in control, and he empowers us by his Holy Spirit to show others who he is in ways we may never know.
When it comes to people representing God, God isn’t worried about what people can or can’t do, or what they look like. What God is worried about is whether they have a heart for him. Do you have a heart for God? Do you treasure what God treasures? Do you want others to know what God is like? This is what it means to represent God.
(C) The Student’s Desk, 2010