SERMON TITLE: 1 Samuel: God’s Chosen King (pt1)
TEXT: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
Watch the sermon here
As always it’s a joy to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And there’s one thing I want you to know — and this is true if you’re worshiping with us for the first time or are joining us at our North Main Campus — I want you to know that God loves you and that I love you too.
We’re continuing our Finding Jesus series today. This is a series where I introduce you to a book of the Bible that you may or may not be familiar with. I’ll give you an overview of the book — followed by a closer look at a particular section of it. And then I’ll show you how to find the one story the whole Bible is telling — the story of Jesus.
And — in this iteration of our Finding Jesus series — we’re looking at the books referred to as the history section. What these books have in common is that they cover historical events in the life of God’s people. Some of the books cover hundreds of years while others cover a brief period of time — but — together — they tell the history of God’s people. And — today — we’ll be looking at the book of First Samuel. So if you have your Bible, please turn with me to First Samuel chapter 16.
In previous weeks we’ve looked at Joshua, Judges, and Ruth — and in coming weeks we’ll look at 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. Now let’s take some time to get our bearings in the book of First Samuel.
BACKGROUND OF FIRST SAMUEL
Here’s the first thing you should know about First Samuel. It — and Second Samuel — are really one book. They’re split into two parts due to them originally being written on scrolls. Scrolls were much more limited in length than the books we’re used to reading. So this time of history was written down on two separate scrolls — and that explains why we have a First and a Second Samuel in our Bibles.
So what about the man — Samuel? The books are named after him — so what do we know about him? Before we get to Samuel — we need to understand where we are in the history of God’s people.
The books of history pick up where the books of Moses end. After having been rescued out of Egypt — the people are led by Moses to the outskirts of the Promised Land. They send spies into the land to scope out their new home — only to be given a report from the majority of the spies that caused the Israelites to distrust God's promise to them. So the people wander in the wilderness for forty years. Moses — along with Joshua and Caleb — the two spies who trusted in God’s promise — once again arrive at the outskirts of the Promised Land with the next generation of Israelites — but Moses’ time on earth has come to an end. So God appoints Joshua to be the leader of the Israelites.
Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites enter the Promised Land. After Joshua — there was a brief time when the people faithfully served and worshiped God. But — as we saw in the book of Judges — the people turn their backs on God — they commit apostasy again and again. Yet God demonstrates his love and faithfulness to his people by raising up judges who act as saviors for the Israelites — the judges deliver them from the consequences of their rebellion and they turn the people back to God.
And — it’s during the time of the judges — that the story of Ruth takes place. A love story of an outsider welcomed into the family of God. And the book of Ruth ends by telling us that the son born to Ruth would have a descendant who would be the king of God’s people. Back in the book of Judges — there’s a repeated phrase — “in those days there was no king in Israel” — foreshadowing what was to come. And the books of Samuel record the transition between the time of the people being led by judges to them being led by a king.
OVERVIEW OF FIRST SAMUEL
So that’s the big picture of what’s going on — now let’s dive deeper into the content of the books of Samuel. The two books of Samuel focus on three key individuals. There’s the prophet Samuel — who the books are named after — Saul — the first king of Israel — and David — the man who follows Saul as king.
We’ll cover the content of First Samuel today. In the first three chapters — we’re still in the time of the judges. And we’re introduced to a woman named Hannah who’s in a difficult situation.
1 Samuel 1:1–8 (NLT)
1 There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. 3 Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. 4 On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. 5 And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. 6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. 7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. 8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
For those who think the Bible is irrelevant — I’d like to point out that there’s much we husbands can learn from Elkanah’s response to his wife’s grief. It’s neither compassionate — nor wise — to tell your wife to cheer up — because — “Sure, I know you want to be a mom, but — if you can’t have kids — you should be thankful because you’ve got me!” Now — we’re told that Elkanah loved Hannah — so I’m guessing that he didn’t mean to be inconsiderate — but his intentions are drowned out by the words he speaks.
And — yet — there is Someone who’s been waiting for just the right time to show compassion towards Hannah.
1 Samuel 1:9–20 (NLT)
9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” 12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” 15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” 18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad. 19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”
And Hannah takes her son back to Eli the priest and does just what she vowed to do — thus Samuel finds himself being trained under Eli. But before we get to Samuel and Eli — I must point out that — in response to God’s faithfulness to her — Hannah sings a beautiful song of praise. And her song hints at themes that are found throughout the books of Samuel.
- The humble will be exalted and the proud will be brought down.
- Hannah praises God for he is the One who reverses stories: the childless becomes a mother — those in trouble are delivered.
- These themes are important for later generations of God’s people who will find themselves living in exile.
After Hannah’s story — we’re introduced to a rival nation — the Philistines. There’s a battle between the Israelites and Philistines. And — instead of trusting in God — the Israelites put their trust in a symbol of God’s presence and power — the ark of the covenant. But God is no fool — he realizes that they’re trusting in the ark as if it’s a good luck charm — thus God allows the Philistines to defeat the Israelites — and the ark is stolen.
Back to Eli — the priest who Hannah left Samuel with — Eli is an interesting man. He’s not exactly a villain but neither is he a hero. For example, one night — when the Lord calls to Samuel — Eli gives the young boy great advice. And even when the word the Lord had given Samuel was not good news for Eli and his family — Eli accepted it as the word of the Lord. So there’s an aspect of faithfulness to Eli.
Yet — at the same time — we learn that Eli confronts his sons who are making a mockery out of the priesthood and the holy sacrifices they oversaw — but he never puts an end to their behavior — essentially he turns a blind eye to what they were doing. So there’s an aspect to Eli of unfaithfulness — like I said — we humans are complicated.
Now — back to the war with the Philistines — after Israel was defeated and the ark had been captured...
1 Samuel 4:12–18 (NLT)
12 A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battlefield and arrived at Shiloh later that same day. He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head to show his grief. 13 Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. When the messenger arrived and told what had happened, an outcry resounded throughout the town. 14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked. The messenger rushed over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and blind. 16 He said to Eli, “I have just come from the battlefield—I was there this very day.” “What happened, my son?” Eli demanded. 17 “Israel has been defeated by the Philistines,” the messenger replied. “The people have been slaughtered, and your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also killed. And the Ark of God has been captured.” 18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight. He had been Israel’s judge for forty years.
Not the death of his sons — but the ark being stolen — is what leads to Eli’s death.
Eventually the ark is returned to the Israelites — and the people come to Samuel who’s now getting up there in age — and they ask him to appoint a king over the nation. And there’s a very sobering statement at this moment.
1 Samuel 8:7 (NLT)
7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.
Which leads us to the second key individual — Saul — the first king of Israel. From outward appearances — Saul was the kind of man you want to be king. Look at how he’s described when we first meet him.
1 Samuel 9:2 (NLT)
2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.
Handsome and tall — what more do we need to know? Well — he has some serious flaws — like the inability to admit when he’s made a mistake — which will lead to his demise — for he disqualifies himself to be king by blatantly disobeying God’s commands. And — when called to repentance — he refuses. So Samuel confronts Saul and tells him that God will replace him as king. Which leads to the third key figure — David.
The passage we’re going to focus on is when David is anointed as the next king of Israel — but before we get to our passage — let’s quickly cover the rest of First Samuel. Once Samuel tells Saul that God will replace him as king — Saul begins a downward spiral that you can read about in the rest of the book. From being a cowardly leader and not trusting in God to provide victory of the giant Goliath — to chasing after David and trying to murder him multiple times out of jealousy and anger — Saul — instead of humbling himself before God — continues to resist God’s will and suffers the consequence of his pride and rebellion.
This results in First Samuel ending — and Second Samuel beginning — with Saul’s death in battle.
1 Samuel 31:3–6 (NLT)
3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely. 4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.
A sad ending for the first king of Israel. From the heights of being crowned king to the depths of despair and misery simply because he refused to repent and submit himself to the will of God.
And — now — let’s now turn to our passage where a new king is anointed and see how this helps us find Jesus. We’re in First Samuel chapter sixteen — beginning in verse one.
1 Samuel 16:1–13 (ESV)
1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “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.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
GOD’S CHOSEN KING
Don’t judge a book by its cover — except we all do — and book publishers know this. In fact — we judge nearly everything by outward appearances. From our culture’s definition of beauty — to studies that show we vote for the more physically attractive political candidate — to Critical Race Theory where everything in society is supposedly based on outward appearances of race, class, and gender — to the billion dollar porn industry — we’re discipled by our culture to make judgments based on what our eyes can see — to make judgments based on — if we’re being honest — what are very shallow details. We’re like the Israelites — “give us the tall and handsome candidate to be our king” — regardless of whatever else may come with the physically attractive package.
In the church world we’re attracted to a person’s great teaching gift, or healing ministry, or how much of a Christian influencer they are — knowing little — and most likely — nothing of what’s going on in their heart. And then we’re surprised when another popular Christian personality has a moral failure.
Now — we’re all limited in who and what we can know — but what can be so disturbing is how — and this is true for Christians and non-believers — how simply due to someone’s outward appearance or talents — their deep flaws — flaws that often cause harm to others — are known AND overlooked.
Well thank God that he is not like us! For God looks at and knows our hearts. And his knowledge of our heart — not what we show on the outside — but what’s going on inside of us — is what he evaluates and how he determines what our role in his story will be.
But in our verses we see that Samuel — a prophet of God — even falls for the outward appearance trap. He’s been sent by God to anoint the next king of Israel and what’s his first thought when he arrives at Jesse’s house? He sees Eliab — Jesse’s oldest son — and thinks “there’s the next king.” But God tells Samuel that he’s looking for the next king in all the wrong places — “stop focusing on outward appearances.”
And — after having gone through all of Jesse’s sons who are present — Samuel asks, “Is that everyone?” And it seems as if Jesse has fallen for the outward appearance trap as well. Why do I say that? Because he still has one son left! But it's his youngest son — the one who takes care of the sheep — “Surely he can’t be the next king.”
“But — Josh — notice how David’s described. Ruddy. Beautiful eyes. Handsome. All outward appearance descriptions.” Yes they are, but we know this isn’t what God was looking at when he chose David — for he’s already told us that he looks inwardly. And this youngest son of Jesse — a seeming afterthought to his father — is a boy whose heart God knew could be used for great things in the story he was authoring — the history of his people.
And — after being anointed by Samuel — the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David — anointing him with God’s very presence — empowering him for the preparation that was to come — facing a giant — a life on the run with Saul wanting him dead — a story David was not seeking — but had been called to.
Now — it’s hard to talk about David — and him being a man after God’s heart — and not acknowledge his adulterous and murderous affair with Bathsheba. What does this part of David’s life teach us? It teaches us that being a man or woman after God’s heart doesn’t mean we’re sinless and perfect — but it does mean that we’re repentant and humble. When Saul was confronted by Samuel for his sin — Saul remained proud and unrepentant. But when David is confronted by Nathan for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband — David responds with the words, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Samuel 12:13)
Later he would write...
Psalm 51 (NLT)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. 5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. 18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
David humbles himself — he repents of his sin. He sees the grace of God in his life through Nathan’s rebuke. He doesn’t harden his heart — he doesn’t play the victim — he doesn’t blame shift. To be a man or woman after God’s heart doesn’t mean you’re perfect — it doesn’t mean you won’t sin — it doesn’t mean you won’t sin in really big, devastating ways — but it does mean that you will humble yourself and repent.
How are you responding to sin in your life? How are you responding to the Nathan in your life who God is using to lovingly and graciously call you back to him? With pride or humility? With repentance or self-righteousness? Know that God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
So how do we cultivate our hearts so that we’re a group of men and women after God’s own heart? Not proud men and women — but a humble people — who know that outward appearance has its place — but that our inward appearance — our godliness and joy and love for Christ — matters infinitely more.
CULTIVATING HUMBLE HEARTS
First, it begins by knowing that God loves you and responding to his love. Friends it’s so easy to dismiss God’s love for us. Even if you hear — I don’t know — a pastor tell you all the time that you’re loved by God — what do you do with these words? Do you dismiss them? Do they bounce off you? Does a voice in your head say, “Not me. God maybe tolerates me, but he doesn’t love me.” Or do you receive and rest in his love? Do you respond to God’s love by trusting him and taking him at his Word? God is not a liar and if he says he loves you — he does.
Second, we cultivate our hearts through prayer and being in God’s Word. Prayer is intimate communication with the God who loves you and created everyone and everything. Prayer is a time of listening — not just talking — for he is the God who spoke all things into existence, who’s given us his words to us — in the Scripture. And — the better you know this book — the more clearly you’ll hear God’s voice and discern that it is his — and not yours or the world’s voice — that you’re hearing. This Word is without error, it is sufficient, it is authoritative, it teaches us everything necessary for life and godliness. It is living and active and it gives life — spiritual life and nourishment to the people of God when they read, study, memorize, meditate, and apply it to their lives.
Knowing God’s love — responding to his love — prayer — his Word — nothing fancy — nothing new — ordinary means by which God shapes our hearts so that we’re the godly men and women he’s created and redeemed us to be.
And now we turn to what this series is all about: How do we find Jesus? I want to show you two ways to find him. First, let’s connect David anointing to be king to Jesus. Do you remember what happened to David when Samuel anointed him to be king?
1 Samuel 16:13 (ESV)
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David. This reminds me — and maybe reminds you — of an account in Luke’s gospel. Having returned from being tempted by Satan for forty days in the wilderness — Jesus begins his ministry.
Luke 4:16–22 (ESV)
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
Jesus is in his hometown — Nazareth — and he reads from the prophet Isaiah. And though the people only see Jesus outwardly — “isn’t this Joseph’s son” — Jesus says that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him. Which — for me — makes me think back to the Spirit of the Lord rushing upon David — anointing him for his calling as king.
That’s one way to find Jesus. A second way to find him — is by returning to the idea of judging others by outward appearances.
The same prophet Jesus quoted — Isaiah — also said this about God’s promised Messiah — the Savior who would be king.
Isaiah 53:2b (NLT)
2b There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
When Jesus walked this earth, his outward appearance wasn’t all that impressive. If he was running for political office — we wouldn’t vote for him — because — survey says — we vote for the person with a beautiful appearance. That’s what people did in Jesus’ day too — most looked at him and saw nothing special because they were making a judgment based on his outward appearance. Meanwhile — if they’d only been able to see his heart — they would’ve seen that they were standing in the presence of God.
When they looked at him as he hung on that cross — they wouldn’t have mocked him — or jeered at him — or said ridiculous things like, “Come down — save yourself — then we’ll believe you” — no — if only they’d had eyes to see they would’ve seen the horror — and the beauty — of the situation: they were murdering God. And they would’ve seen their hatred — and would’ve seen his love. Yet they didn’t have eyes to see — for their hearts didn’t long for God.
What do your eyes see when you look at the cross of Christ? Do you see his love for you? Do you see how God’s chosen King — in love — gave his life — so you might receive life — new life — the abundant life — a humble and repentant life? May you humble yourself before him and receive his love — allowing him to pour his anointing oil of his grace and mercy upon you. Let’s pray.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, anoint all who hear my voice with the oil of your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Give us eyes to see the infinite beauty, the amazing grace, and the limitless love that you have for us.
Spirit, give us eyes that desire to look beyond outward appearances and — instead — make it our priority to cultivate hearts that long for you. Empower us to do the grace-fueled work of pursuing godliness — which is of great value.
Jesus, thank you for your kindness, gentleness, patience, and mercy towards us. Thank you for loving us and for being our reason for hope and joy. Thank you for being our rest. Thank you for not judging us by our outward appearances — but for knowing our hearts and giving us new ones — and promising us that the work you’ve started in us will reach its perfection. This promise is guaranteed and sealed by your blood — the blood of God’s chosen King. Amen.
May you go with a heart that finds its joy and satisfaction in Jesus and his love for you. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.