Life was hard in Bethlehem. Jesse’s grandfather, Boaz (Ruth 4:21-22), had been a “prominent man of noble character” (Ruth 2:1) with vast properties and many servants. Years later, the Philistine raiding parties had left Jesse with just a “few sheep” (1 Samuel 17:28) which were shepherded by a son, not a servant.
So, the Lord’s words must have seemed strange to the Prophet, “Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected for myself a king from his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1). Jesse? No kidding?
The people had chosen a king, a fella who looked very kingly. “When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 10:23), but Saul had “been foolish” and had “not kept the command the Lord” have given. God’s message to King Saul was, “the Lord has found a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over his people, because you have not done what the Lord commanded” (1 Samuel 13:13–14). “Because you rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” ... “The Lord has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you” (1 Samuel 15:26–28).
God’s prophet, Samuel, traveled to Bethlehem pondering God’s words. “A man after God’s own heart! ... One who is better that Saul.”
Arriving at the home of Jesse, Samuel invited the “elders of the town” and Jesse’s family to worship with him at a designated location. When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, he said, “Certainly the Lord’s anointed one is here before him” but God replied, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:4-7).
David had seven older brothers. They were all invited to Samuel’s party. Each was paraded before the prophet, and each was rejected by God. They were big, strong boys. At first glance, they looked like good prospects to become the next king.
David, the youngest son, wasn’t invited to king-crowning ceremony.
“Samuel asked him, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ he answered, ‘but right now he’s tending the sheep.’ Samuel told Jesse, ‘Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he gets here.’ So Jesse sent for him. He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance. Then the Lord said, ‘Anoint him, for he is the one’ ” (1 Samuel 16:11–12).
David was the youngest, the smallest, and the least likely to be chosen. But he was “a man after God’s own heart! ... One who is better that Saul.”
God demonstrated love and grace toward David. While just a young shepherd-boy, God anointed him to be king. Similarly, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV), claiming us for His eternal kingdom. That’s grace.
All Scripture quotation, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.