This Sunday, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series. In it we have been examining the contrasts between the kingdoms of Saul and David. Saul was a type and picture of rule by law and David a type and picture of rule by grace. In this part we looked at the anointing of David to be the king following Saul. Previously, Saul had been told that God’s anointing on him had lifted and that God was bringing up another king “better than him.” In the same way, the new covenant is better than the old covenant. The old covenant was powerless to bring righteousness. Saul, for all his efforts, never truly accomplished what God told him his purpose was – to destroy the Philistines. He battled against them and had moments of success, but he never found true victory. Law will never defeat sin, only grace can defeat sin at its heart.
In 1 Samuel 16:4, it says that the elders of
fear at the sight of Samuel the priest. They asked if he was coming in peace.
The people had been under oppressive law under Saul. Saul had actually gotten
to the point that the rules he was handing down did not come from God, but he
was using God’s wrath as the threat of not keeping them. This was much like the
Pharisees of Jesus’ day, as well as legalist believers today: religious rules
take precedence over the true principles of God, and those who do not keep them
all are made to feel condemned. Such a feeling causes you to tremble at
the sight of “the priest” (Jesus)—1 John 4:17. According to what Jesus has done
for us, we are supposed to boldly approach, full of confidence, not cowering in
fear of punishment. The way these Bethlehem
elders reacted to seeing Saul is a perfect picture of what law does to our
relationship with Jesus. He does come in peace. He is the Prince of Peace. Bethlehem
When Samuel arrives in
, he has Jesse and his sons
consecrate themselves – or purify themselves – to be prepared for one of the
sons to be selected as the next king. God had told Samuel that one of Jesse’s
sons was to be anointed king, and that He would show Samuel which one. One by one, all of the sons come before
Samuel, and God rejects all of them. The first is Eliab, who is tall and
handsome. God says that Eliab is not the one because man looks at the outside,
but God looks at the heart. This does not mean the outside is of NO importance.
In fact, when David is first described, he is said to be handsome, and later it
says that he was a good speaker. Bethlehem
So many people have misunderstood this passage and use it to claim God only looks for people who the world would reject, or that are just plain oddballs. Sometimes it becomes an excuse to BE an oddball. It has been used to place law on people about being concerned with how they look. There are two parts to the statement. Yes, the heart is what is most important to God. It is of upmost importance. We are also called to influence man, so that pure heart is also going to need to be at least somewhat appealing to “man” if we are going to influence and reach people.
I believe that the statement might well mean something completely different. All of the first seven brothers who were rejected had gone through the ceremonial cleansing required by law in order to be qualified to be in the presence of the priest and to be chosen to be king. None of those seven (which is the Biblical number of completion or perfection) were perfect. The law could not make them perfect. Finally, after all seven are rejected by God, Samuel is perplexed. He knew God said it was to be one of Jesse’s sons, and he believed God had rejected all of them. He then asks Jesse if there are any other sons. He responds that David, the youngest, is not there. He is out tending the sheep.
Hold on, he was what? He was tending sheep! How appropriate. Jesus is our good shepherd. Remember, when Saul was chosen by God he was trying to herd donkeys. I think that is quite telling. Herding donkeys is going to require fences and lots of restriction because they are stubborn and will do whatever they please. God does not want His people to be donkeys. He wants sheep, and a strict, legalist donkey herder is not the right one to lead His sheep. John 21 illustrates this as Jesus restores Peter asking Him to tend and feed and care for His sheep.
David is a sheep herder. He knows that sheep roam free but know the sound of their shepherd’s voice and respond to it. That is what living under grace is supposed to be. The law is written on our hearts and not on stone tablets. We are allowed to “freely eat” in this world, but we know the voice of our shepherd (which for us comes in the form of the voice of the Holy Spirit), and we follow His direction. What a great picture.
They go out and call David in, and the Lord shows Samuel that this is the one He has chosen. Now, where was David when all the purification required by the law was taking place? Not there. He was not doing the law’s works, but was out working. By the law, David was not supposed to be able to come into the priest without cleansing himself.. David was anointed in the presence of his brothers (those who were rejected). God was not ceremonially prepared, but he was the one that had been prepared in his heart for his calling. The heart that will respond to the call is far more important to God. When God calls us, He is not requiring us to get clean before we answer. Don’t ignore His calling in your life because you don’t think you are qualified to answer. God Himself qualifies those whom He calls – not the law.
We also noted that Saul had God’s anointing lifted and became troubled. The only thing that will soothe him as music. He hears that David is a great musician (Saul does not know David has been anointed to be the next king). David comes and gives him great comfort. There is this transition time, a picture of Jesus’ time on earth living while law was still ruling.
I ended with 3 keys to David’s success (and to ours):
3. Competent Action when the opportunity arises
Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.