Samuel was the last in a long line of Israel’s Judges. Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Sampson, Eli, and Samuel, were used by God during dark and difficult days. They judged. They governed. They led God’s people into battle.
Samuel was also the first in an impressive line of folks commissioned by God as Prophets. You can remember several of them! During the early days of the Divided Kingdom there was Elijah and Elisha. Later, Amos and Hosea prophesied in the Northern Kingdom while Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk prophesied in the Southern Kingdom. Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi delivered God’s message to those taken into Babylonian captivity and to the remnant that later returned to Judah.
While Samuel is remembered for his leadership and prophetic ministry, he is most notably remembered for being God’s chosen king-maker!
God directed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. Saul looked the part. He was tall, dark, and handsome, head-and-shoulders taller than the other men. He appeared to be royal, regal, impressive. So, when the people longed to be like all the neighboring nations and demanded that God allow them to have a king, Saul was a likely choice.
But, as we have seen in the last days, Saul blew it. He turned away from God. He became prideful and disobedient. The Lord “tore the kingship of Israel away” from Saul and gave it to his “neighbor who was better,” (1 Samuel 15:28) “a man after God’s own heart!” (1 Samuel 13:14).
But who was that man? Who was the next king?
The Lord said to Samuel, “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, CSB).
In Bethlehem, Samuel went to the home of Jessie. “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and said, ‘Certainly the Lord’s anointed one is here before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘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 16:6–7, CSB).
Eliab, the oldest brother looked a bit like Saul. He was tall, dark, and handsome. God said, “He’s not the next king.” The second son of Jessie was Abinadab. “The Lord hasn’t chosen this one either” (1 Samuel 16:8, CSB). Jessie paraded his seven sons before the old prophet. Each time the response was the same. Nope! God wasn’t impressed by the width of his shoulders or the bulge of his biceps.
Samuel was certain that God had directed him to anoint a son of Jessie, and equally as certain that the first seven had been rejected by God. He looked quizzically at Jessie and said, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jessie may have had to think about it for a moment. Humm? Oh yeah! “There is still the youngest, but right now he’s tending the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11, CSB).
That day, in the city of David, Samuel, the king-maker, anointed a young shepherd. He was the youngest. The smallest. He wouldn’t have been pictured in the yearbook over the caption, “Most likely to become king.”
“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13, CSB).
Is there an application for today? You may be old and gray, or very young, or undereducated, or new to the faith. It is very likely that God is calling you to a very special ministry and mission. He’s looking at the heart! He doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.