By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.
God is the God who gives birth to all reason. That said, sometimes God really doesn’t make any sense to us. Sometimes He points to something, and we just don’t see it there.
In Part 1 of this series we focused upon the cultural milieu (a fancy term for “situational setting, or climate”) that David bar Yishai had been brought up in while living in the 11th century BC Israel. In short, life for the Israelites sucked. People were busy doing their own thing, many had forgotten all about the Torah and God’s promises, some had began to use a cruel twisting of their religiosity to promote ethnocentrism, and others just really didn’t give a care in the world by worshiping idols and just all around having a good ole time being evil.
Then we get to Saul, a man who even today fits all of the required standards of success, and who the Israelites chose instead of God to be their king. The prophet Samuel, who had been doing the heavy work judging and governing Israel at the time, relented when God told him to, and gave them Saul as their king. Of course, right from the get-go, Samuel had a close enough relationship with God to know that this plan was not going to succeed, and God had a close enough relationship with Samuel to let Samuel know that He was fully aware that this plan was not going to succeed. In fact, as a trolling point, God only anointed Saul to be prince or leader over Israel. God never relinquished His own crown to anyone in the arrangement for Israel’s kings.
And guess what? Saul’s rule as king did not succeed.
There is this funny story told that is sort of a foreshadowing of what is to come, and it also shows that whenever people get unruly and don’t submit to the absolute authority of God, that they become pretty difficult (and downright impossible) to please. But I’ll let you read that here. This, however, is about King David.
So, basically after Saul fails his final test by not killing all of the Amalekites and by sparing King Agag (a problem that Esther and the Jews would have to deal with later), God immediately calls Samuel to search out for Saul’s successor. Lo and behold, Samuel doesn’t have to go very far from the lands of Benjamin where Saul was from…but he does find himself in the backwoods of Judah. Basically, God sends him to Bethlehem. They say that naming a town after an existing town will guarantee that your town will have the very same characteristics as the original. I can honestly say that I have never visited a place called ‘Bethlehem’ that did not turn out to be some hick-town out somewhere in the country or in the forest.
Anyways, Samuel goes because he has grown close enough in fellowship with God to understand that God knows what He is doing. But…Samuel also goes with his own preconceived, like any person would, and he doubts that God knows what He is doing. First, there is the issue that Saul may kill Samuel if he finds out what his mission is, and God gives Samuel a clever strategy to get past that. Okay, cool. First gate cleared. Then there was the issue that the Bethlehemite that God sent Samuel to (ironically named “the rich one” aka Jesse/Yishai) has a bunch of sons– 8 sons and 2 daughters. Jesse’s oldest son is Eliab (his name meant “God is my Father!”) and he was strong and tall, just the kind of guy to take on Saul because Saul was unusually tall for a man.
But God pulls the troll machine out yet again, and in an instant of His neverending teaching of Samuel God speaks through time to deliver us this message clearly: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Already, I bet you Samuel was really worrying about what God had put his life at risk for and had gotten him into that day.
It gets to a point where Jesse runs out of sons– seemingly. Then Samuel, being the thorough man that he is (and also a good gambler because he had risked a lot for no return) asked Jesse if he had any sons left. At this, Jesse dismissively mentions that he has a younger son who still hadn’t finished doing his day’s work providing for the sheep. He calls out for David, and David obediently comes from his work to see Samuel. Immediately Samuel notices David’s reddish appearance (could have been David’s hair or skin, I can’t tell) and how David was an attractive fellow who appeared like he could get the job done.
Notice how Samuel couldn’t help looking at David’s appearance even after God had told him not to judge by outward appearances. You see, this isn’t an illustration into Samuel’s hypocrisy (though Samuel’s appointing his own sons as judges would be a compelling case). This is to show that we as human beings definitely do not see as God sees. God can see directly into an individual’s heart. We, on the other hand, can only use what our physical senses have to work with unless we begin to intimately know a person.
But…it so happens that Samuel’s being impressed with David and God’s judgment lined up this time. Samuel gets the “Go” word from God, and David, the young man who still has to turn around and finish his duty working, gets anointed as the next king over Israel.
Something weird also happens, the Spirit of God Himself rushes upon David and sets on him…just as He had done for King Saul.
What a weird day indeed. But the drama just gets juicier…and weirder.