Original Publication Date
December 16, 2016
Feb 18, 2023 3:18 PM
1 SamuelChapter StudySaulDavidSamuelRelationships
1 Samuel 16
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on December 16, 2016
The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.
In the previous chapter, Samuel began to mourn Saul due to the king's sins. At the start of this chapter, God tells Samuel it's time to stop mourning Saul and anoint the new king. We aren't told how long Samuel was allowed to mourn Saul's choices, only that God was there to help Samuel move on when the time came.
A New King
Knowing Saul would be suspicious and angry if he found out what was happening, God sends Samuel to Jesse to select the new king under the auspices of offering sacrifices. Once there, Samuel sees Jesse's 7 eldest sons before pronouncing God's favor on David, the 8th and youngest son. At that time, David is anointed and the Spirit of God comes upon him, confirming God's favor upon him.
In contrast to God's Spirit coming upon David, an evil spirit comes upon Saul. While the evil spirit is described as being from God (1 Samuel 16:14-16), likely the implication is that God allowed an evil spirit to haunt Saul. It isn't that God has created this evil, so much as the fact that He allows the evil to occur (or in His absence—by Saul’s choice—evil occurs).
This situation is similar to that of Job. In Job's case it was a test of Job's righteousness, but in Saul's case it was likely punishment. Another way of thinking of this is by viewing God as our armor (Ephesians 6:10-18); when we drift from Him, we take off our armor and leave ourselves vulnerable to evil. A final interpretation is the perception of Saul. Since he, too, had received the Spirit of God, which is pure, the "evil spirit from God" may simply be the judgement of the guilt-riddled conscious of Saul by the Spirit of God.
Whatever the case, Saul calls for a harp player to soothe the evil spirit. The harp player turns out to be David. When David plays the harp for Saul, the evil spirit subsides. While Saul, and probably some who read the story, will think it is the sound of the harp that calms the spirit, I have a feeling the presence of God in David has something to do with it, as well.
David doesn't share Samuel's revelation to Saul—probably a wise decision on his part— which allows the two men to become very close. They get along so well that Saul appoints David to be his armor bearer.
The End of Mourning
It's only natural to be concerned for our loved ones. However, many times, our friends and family are not on the same spiritual journey that we are. I have friends who are out seeking Christ daily; they're growing in Christ at their own rate. I have other friends who believe, but are stagnant in their faith; they are content with themselves right where they are and don't desire a stronger relationship with God. On the other hand, I know people who are struggling with their faith; they've lost their connection to God and are wandering in every which direction. Like Samuel, when I learned my friends were struggling with faith, I was sad for them. I'm not sure I would say I mourned for them, but then, I wasn't in the position Samuel and Saul were.
Saul was king of Israel, and Samuel was a priest/judge of Israel. If the two of them stood together, God's way was sure to prevail. They were the highest men of authority in Israel. Having both been anointed, Saul and Samuel likely shared a bond that Samuel felt could only be discussed between the two. In addition, since Saul was king, anytime Samuel wanted to get a message out to the people, he could have sent it through Saul. However, once Saul's heart changed, his vision changed and that split the united front Saul and Samuel were meant to project. Samuel could no longer rely on Saul, and Saul was no longer listening to Samuel. Samuel knew that he had to distance himself from Saul because Saul had made his decision, and that hurt.
Our friends and family are the same way. If you stay true to God amongst friends who have lost their way, it will put a wedge in your friendship. Just as God does not seek to keep company with evil, evil does not seek to keep company with God. As Amos 3:3 says, "can two walk together except they be agreed?" Sometimes we have to let these friendships die. That doesn't mean you stop praying for that person or you cease loving them; it just means they may not be your best-best-buddy anymore.
Note that I’m not just talking about minor disagreements here or differences of opinion on interpretation; I’m talking about deliberate and willful choices to rebel against YHWH. The distance I’m talking about comes in to play, in particular, when one (or both) does not respect the stance of the other and actively tries to change it.
God allows Samuel to mourn for Saul for a little while, but eventually, God tells Samuel it's time to move on. When we lose friends because we have chosen to follow God, He will bring us into the fellowship of people following the same path. God doesn't want us desiring people who do not desire Him, and He doesn't want to see us suffering due to the loss of those people. However, we can't move on to the next phase of our life while still in mourning. Eventually we have to let those people go and trust God to bring us to a better place.
References and Footnotes
- "1 Samuel 16:14 Commentary". Bible Hub. 2016
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