A Davidic Heart vs. a Demonic Hold

(Concerning First Samuel Sixteen)

I see the next two chapters of First Samuel as a definite pair. They are mirror images of each other.

“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.” (1 Samuel 16:1)

Samuel had anointed Saul with a “flask of oil,” (1 Samuel 10:1). A flask is a man made thing that holds a God thing. In choosing to anoint Saul, God had consented to put His Spirit on a man, but the timing of the anointing was chosen by men. David was anointed from a hollowed-out horn. Only God can make a horn. David was both anointed and chosen by God. The word “chosen” here is interesting. The Hebrew word it is translated from could also be rendered “seen.” God had been watching every heart in the land and he had seen a heart that was not driven by what men thought. Instead it harkened to the thoughts of Yahweh. Jesse’s youngest son was a follower of the Invisible God, and was therefore qualified to be in front of visible men. He could provide them with true leadership. He would not have to poll their ranks to see which way the wind was currently blowing. This is a major difference in the “David heart” and the “Saul heart.”

The word for “chosen” could also have been rendered “provided.” God had had David under construction for a long time. A thousand years before this day Jacob had prophesied that the King, the scepter holder, would come from his fourth son Judah. A century or so before this day amazing prophecies had been spoken over the union of Boaz and Ruth. If Israel could have rested in the Lord a little longer, they would have saved a whole generation from futility, for the Lord was in the process of PROVIDING Himself a King.

“But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” [This tells us something about the tone of voice Saul was speaking to Samuel in when he made him come back and “worship” with him. It was no accident that he tore Samuel’s robe.] “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?” (1 Samuel 16:2-4)

This is a subtle reference to the fact that everybody knew that everybody knew that Saul was a very dangerous man. The threatening tone with which he spoke to Samuel at Gilgal was definitely what Israelite gossips were all abuzz about. Remember, the whole nation was painfully aware that Samuel had told them they would rue the day they insisted on having a king. They knew that Samuel was on bad terms with a dangerous, insecure man. Saul’s paranoia eventually lived up to their worst fears.

“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.” (1 Samuel 16:5)

This is also subtle. He had actually consecrated only part of Jesse’s sons. The youngest son was not even considered important enough to be called in from the fields for this once in a life time family event. It is written between the lines that the shepherd boy has already been consecrated – BY GOD.

“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.” (1 Samuel 16:6-7)

God was saying, “Hey, we’ve already done height. Let’s not go by height this time.” In fact, when we get to the next chapter, Goliath is going to make all Israel sick of “height.” Eliab, the firstborn, was doubtless tall and handsome. But he was not only “not chosen,” as most of his brothers later proved to be, he was actually “rejected.” An important difference.

1.First the people rejected God as their king, (1 Samuel 8:7).

2. Then God gave them a king in their timing.

3. Then the king rejected the word of the Lord. (First Samuel 15:23 & 26;)

4. Then God rejected their king. (First Samuel 15:23 & 26)

5. Now Eliab, who has a heart like Saul, as we soon shall see, is rejected.

His rejection is followed by what I believe is one of the three most important statements in this book: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Outward appearance is a Saul thing; heart is a God thing.

“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.” (1 Samuel 16:8-13)

Here is the first example of another theme in this book. We will see that David was not legally a priest, but he was far more priestly than the current priests. Later, though he was not yet the king of Israel, still he, as a mere captain in Saul’s army, often went to the tabernacle to inquire of the Lord as though he were king. In this instance, he has not been ritually consecrated, yet he was more consecrated than those who were officially consecrated. He was a New Covenant man before there was a New Covenant!

“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.”

In the following verses the phrase “evil spirt from the Lord” is oft repeated. If it were not stated so many times, many of us wouldn’t believe it. Some don’t anyway. “Tormented” here is more literally translated “terrified.” Saul’s fear of men had at this point grown into a full fledge demonization. His toilsome efforts to control people’s opinions of him had failed him completely, and, clearly, he was aware in his heart that everybody knew he was a fearful man-pleaser. There’s no one less cool than the guy who has figured out that everybody has figured out he’s trying to be cool and yet he’s blowing it. That this “evil spirit” was from “the Lord”, (literally, “Yahweh”), gives us a hint as to the nature of the Lord.

One facet of God’s Immutability is that if you spit into the spiritual wind, spit blows back into your face. Saul’s fear of men caused him to bring back Agag to show him off to Israel. Agag was a demonized man, as were the animals Saul brought back. They were supposed to be destroyed because they were full of the evil spirits of the Amelekites. The Amelekites represented the toil of those who would try to manipulate God rather than trust God. Being your own god is very hard, and it makes you paranoid. But also Saul, I believe, had literally “caught” a demon from Agag when he forced Samuel to offer a sacrifice. The “sacrifice” Samuel chose to offer was cutting off Agag’s head! Demons leave corpses and go to whatever is handy and undefended. Obviously, if he could, Satan would kill us all, saints and sinners alike. He is on a leash, as it were, restrained by the Hand of the Lord. When Saul and his men were sent into the demonically saturated land of the Amelekites, they were immune to “catching” demons, because they were exactly in the Lord’s will. When they stepped out of His will in such a place, it was like opening a door on a submarine! Thus, we get to see a rare thing, a clear case of demonization in the Old Testament, and how it was dealt with.

“Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.” So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”  One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”
(1 Samuel 16:18)

This sounds to me like his servants were “in cahoots” about how to handle their shepherd. There had been an undertone for some time that Saul’s men knew that sometimes they had to kind of, “manage their master”, so to speak.

“Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.” (1 Samuel 16:19-20)

The day Samuel arrived in Bethlehem, the elders trembled in fear of getting on the wrong side of Saul. (Saul’s fear had fostered their fear.) But if anyone in Israel had ever had a “logical” reason to be paranoid, it would have been David. He had just been anointed king in the presence of several pairs of eyes, some of which were envious of him. Saul gave no explanation for his sudden call for David to come to his house, and this summons was an extremely unusual, a once-in-ten-life-times type thing. Any odds maker would have said David was being called in because Samuel had anointed him to be king. But David knew “the odds can become gods,” and he went straight to Saul’s house, without a moment’s hesitation. The contrast between the paranoid heart of Saul and the totally trusting heart of David could hardly have been greater. On the other hand, David would probably have said to us, “God had just promised me I would be king. How could I be so faithless as to fear that He wouldn’t even preserve my life?” To a Saul mind, the king’s summons meant David was doomed. As far as David was concerned, he was invulnerable! God often puts us in situations where we have to decide who we are. The choice may be so narrow that we will either be a “hero or a heel”, depending on what we choose.

Notice also the phrase …”who is with the sheep.” Saul made it a habit of thinking of David in terms of the fact he was a shepherd, which, in that day, was a very lowly occupation. We will see that Saul was unconsciously considering David to be a person of very little significance.

“David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” (1 Samuel 16:21-22)

“Remain” implied David was to have a permanent job. This would have been appropriate, for he was indeed Saul’s spiritual armor-bearer, keeping enemies away from him that he could not fight on his own. The lowly shepherd of sheep had become the de facto shepherd of the shepherd of Israel.

“Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (1 Samuel 16:23)

David could not “cast out” a demon. He could, however, sit down with his harp in the presence of his earthly king, and cast his cares and heap his praises on his Heavenly King as though no one else existed. Saul’s demon was a spirit of the fear of man, and it simply could not tolerate the atmosphere of complete confidence and selflessness that was generated by David’s worship. There was just no place for it. So it fled every time David picked up his harp.

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