Saul, who had been the chosen leader of Israel, was called and sustained by the Lord. Then, the power he held began to get the better of him. He made some bad choices out of fear of the people, fear of his enemies, and his own pride. He was not faithful to the Lord. The Lord rejected Saul as the leader of his people. Saul remained the king, but no longer had the appointment from the Lord. Samuel remained the prophet during this time and continued to give the revelations and directions from the Lord. The Lord had revealed to Samuel, that he would call another to be the ruler of his people. This chapter begins:
1 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 Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
2 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.
3 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.
4 And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
5 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.
Samuel continued to mourn over the things that had happened with Saul. The Lord spoke to Samuel and asked him why he did this, when he had been rejected. Instead, Samuel was to prepared himself to anoint a new king. The Lord directed Samuel to go to Jesse in Bethlehem where he would find the new king in one of Jesse’s sons. Samuel was worried that Saul would find out, and kill him. Samuel was told to go as if to make a sacrifice, calling Jesse to make sacrifice with him. Then, the Lord would help Samuel to know what to do next, in order to anoint a new king, whom the Lord had called. In faith, Samuel did as he was told by the Lord. The elders of Bethlehem, were afraid of his coming. Samuel told them he came in peace, to give sacrifice to the Lord. He told the elders to sanctify themselves and to prepare to make sacrifices. Jesse and his sons were among the men whom were sanctified, and Samuel called them to the sacrifice.
It is important to note, that this is the Jesse spoken of by the prophets who foretold the Savior’s mortal lineage. When speaking of the Lord, the book of Isaiah teaches, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). Jesus of Nazareth, was this specific descendant of Jesse of Bethlehem.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
7 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.
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
Each of the sons came before Samuel in turn, and as they did, Samuel assumed that the eldest or strongest would be chosen by God. However, as he thought this, the Lord told Samuel to look at the men as the Lord would look at them. The worth of the men would not be found in their appearance or stature, but in their hearts. God does not look at us in the way that other people do. God knows our character better than any person, even ourselves. God can tell if our hearts are pure, if we are sincere, honest, and good. Likewise, God knows if our desires are to please men more than Him. In this experience, God would inspire Samuel to see these sons as He would see them, with spiritual eyes rather than the eyes of men.
Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and seven sons of Jesse were presented, but none were chosen by the Lord. Samuel asked Jesse if these were all of his sons. He told them that his youngest was keeping the sheep. Samuel asked Jesse to call for him, and when he was brought in, it was revealed to Samuel that he was the chosen son. David was a good-looking young man, but more importantly, the Lord knew he had a good heart. Samuel anointed David, the youngest son of Jesse, in front of those of his family who were there. I think the witnesses of his anointing were few in order to keep David safe from Saul, who may have killed David if he had been made aware. From that time forward, the Spirit was with David. In my mind’s eye, I can picture Samuel laying his hands upon the head of David, and giving him great blessings, which would prepare him for his calling to lead Israel. The most important blessing he could give to David, was the gift of the companionship of the Spirit, which he had from that day forward. Samuel left Bethlehem and went on to Ramah.
14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
16 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.
17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, 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.
In contrast, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from Saul, and his servants noticed an evil spirit about him. The footnote for verse 14 (see also verses 15, 16 and 23) explains that the Joseph Smith translation of this verse reads, “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit which was not of the Lord troubled him.” This is an important distinction, because the Lord does not give evil spirits to afflict the souls of men. He does, however, allow for men to be influenced by the spirits around them, good or bad, so that men may choose for themselves which to follow. Any evil spirit is from the devil, not God.
Saul’s servants suggested that he call a man who was a talented musician, to play the harp for him, that his spirit would no longer be troubled. If the servant’s of Saul had been men of God, I am sure they would known that the thing Saul truly needed was to be right with God. Saul needed to repent of the things he had done and put aside his pride, but he would not. Saul called for one who could play the harp well, and one of the servants suggested a son of Jesse of Bethlehem, who could play well and was a good, pleasant looking man whom had the Lord with him. I think also, that in saying he was prudent in matters, it was suggested that he was wise and possibly, that he also may have been able to discern when his services were needed for the king.
19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
20 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.
21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
23 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.
Messengers were sent to Jesse, which asked for David to be sent to the king. Jesse sent David along with bread, wine and a kid. David pleased Saul and he was chosen to bear Saul’s armor. Saul sent a message to Jesse, to ask that David stay with the king, because he had found favor in his sight. When Saul was troubled, David would play for him on his harp and Saul would be well again. Music is such a powerful influence in our lives. In this case, music was used to calm a troubled spirit. David used his talents to do good for the king. When we choose music to listen to, it is important to note if it is one that can calm our own troubled souls. There is a lot of music in the world today, which has the power to bring us down. We should seek to listen to those things that are inspiring, uplifting, and bring us peace.
In this chapter, we can see the hand of the Lord in preparing young David to become the ruler of the Israelites. I am sure the servants of Saul, felt inspired to suggest that the king ask for a man to come and help ease his mind. Likewise, I am sure that the suggestion that Daivd be asked, out of all the men of Israel. It is also possible that David had been blessed by the Lord, with the gift of the spirit, to be the best harpist in all the land. Whatever the path that led there, David was now in the position to become what the Lord wanted him to become, if he would continue to be a man of God.
Once again, we have a calling from the Lord, extended to the least likely of men. He was the youngest, with several older brothers, who may have been capable. However, the Lord will choose whomever has the qualifying characteristics for the work. Over and over again, we see that the Lord chooses those who are humble and teachable, faithful and trustworthy. These are qualities that we should seek after in our own lives.
I am grateful to know that the Lord is not going to bless me on my appearance or my physical strength, because these are not my greatest attributes. These are not bad attributes to have been blessed with, but they are not the attributes that will draw us nearer to God. It is a humbling thing to know that God knows my character so well, and this understanding gives me the desire to become a better person in Christ-like attributes, which are the attributes of God. Disciples of Christ, should seek to improve our character rather than focusing solely on our outer appearance. I know that a happy soul is one who strives to be Christ-like in body and spirit.