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1 Samuel 16

Notes & Transcripts

1 Samuel 16:14-23 – Serving God with integrity

Introduction

Business conference where a Director got up at the end and shouted “I want it all – and I want it now!!” with dry ice and loud music.

Apart from making a complete fool of himself in a British context, was summing up the spirit of the age – we expect to have everything, and to have it now – one of the drivers of our current economic situation. 

Do you ever wish God would just get on with something He has promised you? 

Age of instant gratification, but our life in God is one where we need to expect delayed gratification at times. 

We see it with

·         Abraham and the birth of Isaac

·         Jacob and his waiting for a wife

·         Joseph in prison in Egypt before he becomes Prime Minister

·         now we are going to see it with David.  The one occasion when he goes for instant gratification, it lands him in all sorts of trouble and he never quite recovers from it. 

Doing a series on 1 Samuel.

Review of where we have been recently:

·         Saul’s selection as a king “like the other nations”

·         Saul’s repeated failures (if you missed it, download the MP3 and listen to Tim’s description).

·         David anointed as king by Samuel in Saul’s place, but Saul still king (he was actually king for a total of 40 years).

Read the passage. 1 Sam 16:14-23 (NLT)

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

 15 Some of Saul's servants said to him, "A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you.

 16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again."

 17 "All right," Saul said. "Find me someone who plays well, and bring him here."

 18 One of the servants said to Saul, "One of Jesse's sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that-- he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the LORD is with him."

 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, "Send me your son David, the shepherd."

 20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.

 21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.

 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, "Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him."

 23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

 (1Sa 16:14-23 NLT)

Background

We saw David anointed as king in the previous section which Christine covered last week. 

Focus of the narrative now switched from Saul to David.

Today we are looking at the incident which comes between David being anointed and told that he is to be the new king, and the famous episode of his fight with Goliath. 

We will look at

·         some aspects of the passage that help us in our reading of scripture

·         then what we can learn in our own lives from this passage.

So, let’s look at the passage in more detail.   

Development

When reading a Bible passage, we need to “interrogate” the passage and ask it a number of questions. 

A lot, but here are three that we will ask this passage:

}  Why is it in the Bible at all?

}  Why is it located here?

}  Where have I seen this before?

I wondered at first why this episode appears in the Bible at all, and particularly why it appears here.

Writer of the book of Samuel

·         is a very artful writer – i.e. master of the art of writing

·         nothing is arbitrary in his/her writing of the book

·         book is full of plays on words, and allusions to other events in the Old Testament. 

·         Need to read this passage in that light.

In Old Testament, normally only see one person at a time being filled with the Holy Spirit, and we have been told that the Holy Spirit has departed from Saul, and that David is filled with the Spirit, so there is a very definite switching of the focus of the story here.

The narrative thus telling us that David is the person to watch. 

Saul, having been told that God’s favour and Spirit have left him, is tormented and troubled.

His servants persuade him that he needs someone

·         to play the harp to him,

·         to calm his tormented spirit,

·         and one of them has heard of none other than David.

(Saul at this stage doesn’t know that David has been anointed king, as far as we know.)

The writer then records a number of things about David that would be loaded with meaning for a Jewish reader of this passage at that time.

1.       First, we are told (1 Samuel 16:18) that he “is a talented harp player”.  This tells us that he is the answer to Saul’s problem.  God has managed to afflict Saul with a problem that can only be alleviated by David, his successor. 

2.       Second, we are told (1 Samuel 16:18) that he is “a brave man and a warrior”.  This again is a contrast to Saul. 

a.       Some commentators would say that when Samuel told Saul in 1 Sam 10:7 to do whatever came into his heart immediately after talking about the Philistine garrison at Gibeah, he was really telling Saul to take the garrison and fight the Philistines,

b.      kings were expected to do an act of valour at the time of their being chosen to show themselves worthy of kingship. 

c.       Saul failed to do so.

d.      David, by contrast, is referred to as a “brave man and a warrior”, so he clearly had a reputation that made him worthy to be king.

3.       Third, we are told that he is “prudent in speech” – NLT “has good judgment” – NIV “speaks well” is not the best translation. We are being told that he is a man who speaks wisely and prudently.

a.       Contrast to Saul’s rash vow earlier which could have resulted in his own son being killed.

4.       Fourth, he is a fine-looking man (not sure about that!) but also that “The Lord is with him”.

a.       When reading the Bible, we need to ask ourselves “Where have I heard/seen that before?”  In this case, it puts David in line with Isaac, Joseph, Joshua and Samuel, of whom it was said, “the Lord is with him”. 

b.      Again, contrast with Saul, where we are told that the Sirit of the Lord departed from him.

5.       Fifth, we are told in v19 that he was “the shepherd”. 

a.       In OT, all of Israel’s great leaders are referred to as shepherds.  True of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. 

b.      So in these two verses we see David being lined up with all the great leaders of Israel. 

c.       It also informs our understanding of Jesus’ statement that he is the “Good Shepherd” if the great Old Testament leaders are referred to as shepherds.

d.      Saul, by contrast, portrayed as an incompetent shepherd who could not find a few large animals – donkeys – when they were lost, let alone shepherd sheep.

David does well at the court, and is able to calm Saul whenever he is tormented, but is also appointed as one of Saul’s armour-bearers.  Being an armour-bearer an extremely trusted position in that environment. 

So what do we learn about David in this story? 

1                     The narrator is telling us very clearly that David is a leader in the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua and Moses, and (in my opinion) especially Joseph. 

a.       Promise of national leadership in his youth

b.      Faithfully serving in a king’s court

c.       Period of mistreatment and endurance before inheriting the promise

d.      Both used significantly by God in the historical progression of His people

2                     David is willing to serve another king, knowing full well that God has chosen him to be king

3                     Waiting for God’s time and not forcing the issue.  Need to understand when to force things, and when to wait. 

4                     Balance of gifting and character – the characteristics we looked at combined both abilities and integrity of character.

Application

1                     Waiting for God – either lost hope or trying to make things happen.

2                     Serving another, even when we know we could do it and are called to it.

3                     Holding what God has promised us in faith, without trying to manipulate it into happening. – Waiting for God’s time.


 

(1Sa 16:14-23 New Living Translation)

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

 15 Some of Saul's servants said to him, "A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you.

 16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again."

 17 "All right," Saul said. "Find me someone who plays well, and bring him here."

 18 One of the servants said to Saul, "One of Jesse's sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that-- he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the LORD is with him."

 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, "Send me your son David, the shepherd."

 20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.

 21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.

 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, "Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him."

 23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

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