The Lord gives orders to Saul to completely annihilate the Amalekites for attacking Israel when He first brought them out of Egypt. Remember in the wilderness when the Lord had Moses write in the Book of the Law that “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14)? “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lamb, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”
When Samuel confronts Saul for disobeying the Lord, Saul tries to justify his disobedience by saying that he saved the best for the Lord. Then Saul blames the people for taking the best of the plunder. So Samuel responds, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
At the news of the rejection from God, Saul shows his true colors when he says to Samuel, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.” Once again Saul is more concerned about his appearance before man than approval of the Lord, which leads to his downfall.
The Lord sends Samuel to Jesse, from the tribe of Judah, in Bethlehem to anoint the next king. Samuel incorrectly assumes Jesse’s older son is God’s choice for king, but the Lord responds saying, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” So Jesse passes his seven sons before Samuel, but the Lord doesn’t choose any of them. God chooses the youngest son who was out in the field – the boy whose father didn’t even consider to be in the lineup for king. God sees the son who was all alone in the field tending to the sheep while playing his harp and working his slingshot. God sees the boys who will grow into the mighty King David.
“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.” The Lord uses David’s skills with the harp to get him into the king’s presence to soothe his distressed spirit. “And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”
We end the reading with the Israelites at war against the Philistines. Jesse sends his son David to check on his older brothers who followed Saul into battle. When David arrives he learns that Goliath, a massive Philistine warrior, has laid down a challenge against the Israelites and one of their warriors. Goliath says to Israel, “‘If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us… I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” However, David’s response to Goliath’s challenge is much different than the fearful Israelites. David responds, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
When David’s oldest brother, Eliab, hears David’s courageous and faithful response to Goliath’s threats, he mocks David saying, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” Didn’t the Lord already say that David has a heart after Him and not one of selfish ambition? Others, out of their own pride or jealousy, may incorrectly judge someone’s motives, but no one can fool the Lord. God knows the thoughts and motives of all, and He knows that David has a high view of Him which keeps David from fearing that pestering Philistine warrior.
Tomorrow we will see how the Lord will use David’s slingshot skills, which he has been using all those years out in the fields protecting the sheep, to give victory to the Israelites, so keep reading. (1 Samuel 15:1-17:31)