The story of Samuel anointing David as the future King of Israel is one of the most pivotal stories in the Old Testament. From the story of when Samuel anoints David, we can learn 3 profound lessons about God and the way He works among humanity.
The story is found in 1 Samuel 16 and begins with Samuel the prophet grieving the loss of relationship with Saul. The prophet felt deep regret that he had ever anointed Saul as King because Saul no longer followed God whole heartedly. As Samuel was grieving, the LORD spoke to him and called him to fill his horn with oil and to go and anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the new King over Israel.
When Samuel arrived, Jesse brought in each of his sons, starting with the oldest, however, none of them were the LORDs anointed. Finally, Samuel asked Jesse, if he had any other sons. Jesse hesitated and then told Samuel that he had just one more who was out tending the sheep. David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and it’s almost as if Jesse was thinking, “Surely the youngest wouldn’t be anointed to be king!” However, sure enough, when David came in, the LORD spoke to Samuel and told him to anoint young David, as the next King of Israel.
David went on to be the greatest of all Israel’s king and actually, was in the lineage of Jesus. The prophets predicted that the Messiah would come from David’s roots. In fact, Jesus was called the “Son of David.” When the blind man, Bartimaeus, sat by the side of the road and yelled, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me” he likely knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Mark 10:47). The word Messiah means “anointed one.” When Samuel anoints David, he provided a picture of the coming Messiah.
David was a man after God’s own heart. Though He was not perfect like Jesus, His life and message pointed to the coming Messiah. He wrote many of the Psalms, which were prophetic pictures of Christ (Psalm 22, Psalm 110).
As we reflect on the story of when Samuel anoints David, we learn some profound truths about God and how He works in our lives. Here are 3 lessons we can learn about God from when Samuel anointing David:
1. We Learn that God Values Small and Insignificant
Particularly, here in the West, we value, large and significant. We tend to think bigger is always better. However, God values what is seemingly small and insignificant. When Jesse lined his sons up, the older more advanced sons were not the ones that God chose. They were likely more gifted in leadership and had more experience. However, God chose the youngest and the least inexperienced.
Our tendency is to believe God values the most talented and those with the greatest gifts. However, God places a premium on small and insignificant. We see this all throughout Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus told the story of the mustard seed and compared it to His kingdom (Matthew 13:31-32). Though the mustard seed is tiny it has the potential to grow wildly. Jesus said, even if we have faith as tiny as a mustard seed He will honor that faith and through it do great things.
Another example is the story of the little boy’s lunch. When a crowd of over 5,000 gathered to hear Jesus preach, the disciples wondered how on earth they would feed all those people. Jesus took a little boy’s lunch; 5 loaves and 2 fishes. A seemingly tiny snack lunch became a banquet when placed in Jesus almighty hands. The principle is clear. God values the small and insignificant. In His hands, multiplication goes beyond what we can imagine. Little becomes much.
The next time you feel your faith is insignificant or your gifts are inadequate, remember Samuel anointing David. Though he was the youngest and seemingly the most insignificant, when yielded to God he became one of the greatest and most mighty of all Israel’s kings. Place your little in God’s hands and watch how He expands it for His glory.
2. We Learn That God Not Only Calls, He also Empowers
Oil in the Bible is often symbolic of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, sets us apart and equips and empowers us to do the will of the Father. Throughout the Old Testament, priests and kings alike were anointed with oil to symbolize the setting apart and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. When Samuel takes his flask of oil and anoints David to be the future king, it is symbolic of the holy and honored calling God is placing on David’s life. From David on, every King of Israel was anointed with oil as symbol of the holy and honored calling God was placing on their lives. It also symbolized the fact that the Holy Spirit would empower them to do the job that God had called them to. From David on, every King of Israel was anointed with oil.
Samuel likely anointed David when David was just a teenager. Imagine how inadequate David likely felt as he considered the call to be king. However, God didn’t just call David, He promised to equip and empower David. From the moment Samuel anointed David, the Holy Spirit empowered David (1 Samuel 16:13).
In your life and mine, God will sometimes call us to seemingly impossible tasks. Perhaps it is stepping into a leadership position for which we feel ill equipped. Or, maybe it’s raising a special need’s child. God often calls us to roles or tasks beyond our ability. In those moments feelings of inadequacy can overwhelm. However, we must remember that what God calls us to do, He empowers us to do. Just as Samuel anointed David with oil, to symbolize the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, so He empowers us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would send the advocate to help us in every area of life (John 14:15-17). We can trust His promise even when the task feels impossible.
3. We Learn God Is Never in a Hurry
David was likely anointed when a teenager but ultimately waited many years to become king. Most Bible scholars believe David waited at least 17 years before he became King. In Psalm 13 we see David crying out to God in prayer, “How long, O LORD, how long?” (Psalm 13:1). Yet, those years of waiting were crucial to David’s development.
We live in an impatient culture. Consequently, for most of us, waiting is very challenging. Yet, it is part of God’s plan for our lives. Author, Andrew Murray, wrote these profound words, “God is unwearied patience” (Daily in His Presence). I love that! We are an impatient people however, God is eternally patient and accomplishes what concerns us according to His timetable. While we wait for God to do as He promised, He is developing our character and setting the stage for His perfect plan. If David had become king at only 17, He might have made many foolish choices. God needed to work in David’s life to shape his character and set the stage for His almighty plan. Learning to wait for God’s timing while simply enjoying His presence is part of our maturing process.
The next time it feels like God is taking forever to fulfill His promise, stop and reflect. How is God shaping your character? How might He be setting the stage for the perfect fulfillment of His plan? How can you cooperate with His timing?
The story of Samuel anointing David as king is one of the most profound in the Bible. David points us to Christ who would come as the ultimate Anointed One – the Messiah. As we study how Samuel anoints David, we are reminded that God values the small and seemingly insignificant, God calls us to do challenging works but He also empowers us to do those works and finally, God is never in a hurry, He takes His time.
Andrew Murray, Daily in His Presence, (New York, NY; Multnomah a Division of Random House, 2004), September 30 Devotional Reading
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Authentic. Passionate. Funny and Biblical all describe Becky Harling. A best-selling author, Becky is a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, and other events. She is the author of 11 books including, How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk, Psalms for the Anxious Heart, and The Extraordinary Power of Praise. Becky is a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team and a seasoned Bible teacher. You can connect with Becky at www.beckyharling.com, www.harlingleadership.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beckyharlingministries, Twitter, @beckyharling, or on Instagram at Becky Harling