Qualifications for God's service, for a man

1 Samuel 16

Vv. 1-5.

Samuel had retired to his own house in Ramah, with a resolution not to appear any more in public business, but to addict himself wholly to the instructing and training up of the sons of the prophets, over whom he presided, as we find, #1Sa 19:20. He promised himself more satisfaction in young prophets than in young princes; and we do not find that, to his dying day, God called him out to any public action relating to the state, but only here to anoint David. (MH)


First, we saw, however, in 8:3 that Samuel's sons walked not in his ways. I wonder why Samuel did not take the time to train his own sons that he did in training other men to follow the Lord?

Second, evidently, ungodly children do not disqualify a man for God's service. But it appears that both Eli's and Samuel's sons were old enough they were not at home any longer. Although Eli was judged for not doing what he could to restrain his sons. We do not read of any such judgment upon Samuel. I should mention that the Lord rejected Eli's sons, but the people rejected Samuel's sons. Saul's sons lay with the women at the tabernacle, while Samuel's sons only perverted justice.

Third, why did not Samuel mourn for the lose of his own sons as he mourned over the lose of Saul? But he could not mourn forever. The Lord said no, and now he must move on.


(a) Signifying that we should not show ourselves more pitiful than God, nor to lament those whom he casts out. (Geneva)

The above sure seems like a harsh statement, but that is sure what v. 1 says.

V. 2, evidently, Saul had grown quite wicked since Samuel told him he was rejected of the Lord. So now Samuel is concerned that Saul will find out that he is to anoint another, and Saul would see that as a threat to his own power. Samuel was rightly fearful of what Saul would do if he found out. So the Lord told Samuel what do and say.


First, though Samuel was a prophet and had anointed Saul, Samuel is fearful of Saul. Though Saul was chosen by the people and anointed then by the Lord, Saul had been stricken with "Potomac Fever," a serious malady striking those who are placed in authority. It can be recognized by the person's head becoming swelled with pride as he presses on "no holds barred" to retain his power. The people did not check with the Lord as they chose Saul; if they had, the Lord would probably said, "No! Wait for the right time" as he raised up David.

When Saul went bad, the Lord did not raise up someone to overthrow Saul, but he raised up someone to replace Saul when the time was right. The Lord probably left Saul in place as judgment against the people for their demand of a king to replace the Lord.

Second, Samuel takes his fear to the Lord not with, "I won't go," but "What shall I do when I go?" Note that even the greatest of men have faith replaced at times with fear.

Third, the Lord did not tell Samuel to go and he, the Lord, would protect him from Saul. Rather, the Lord told Samuel how to hide the truth from Saul. Did Samuel lie, or did he just not tell the whole truth? The Lord did not tell Samuel to lie, but he sure did tell him not to tell the true reason he was in the area. Truth is in relation to the person of Christ, not in relationship to circumstances. The Lord told Samuel not to tell the man who presented a danger to him the truth.

Thus it is not wrong to hide the truth from those who might seek to harm us as we go about the Lord's work. I wonder how many martyrs have been martyrs because they did not take simple precautions? Samuel was told by the Lord to hide the truth from an evil king as Samuel went about to do what the Lord had told him to do.

V. 3, I will show thee what thou shalt do. Very seldom does the Lord show us what needs to be done before the time to do it. Samuel was to take one step at a time, and the Lord would direct that one step at a time:

Those that go about God's work in God's way shall be directed step by step, wherever they are at a loss, to do it in the best manner. (MH)

V. 4, Samuel came, and the elders trembled at his coming. Samuel was known as a prophet, so the people feared that he was there to pronounce judgment against them, or they may have feared he was fleeing from Saul. Regardless, they feared the worse.

Vv. 6-14

V. 6, Samuel made the same mistake as did the people in choosing Saul – he looked on the outside.

V. 7, the Lord reminds Samuel that he looks on the heart, and judges accordingly — For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (See 1 Pet. 3:4.) Underline this in your Bible. The height was one of Saul's qualifications.

Vv. 8-10, all of Jesse's older sons pass before Samuel, and the Lord rejects them all. Note the sovereignty of God in who he chooses. I assume that the other fellows were physically and spiritually qualified to lead, but God chose the youngest. God in his sovereignty moves as he pleases.

V. 11, even Jesse, David's father, did not see anything in David to qualify him to be anointed by the Lord. God has a way of putting his hand on the unqualified in man's eyes.

Note that the Lord did not chose a warring man, but a shepherd. Moreover, he chose someone who was at work while the others were at home. One would think that being the youngest, David would have been "spoiled," e.g., Joseph, but David was in the field. Moses was a shepherd.

We will not sit..., and we too will stand till the King comes. This is not our rest. (Mic. 2:10.) It is not time to sit down until the Son of David (grandson of Jesse) comes to present himself. God's business is to be taken care of first.

V. 12, Josephus says that Davie was ten here, while most modern commentators say he was fifteen. (JFB) Lightfoot reckons David to be about twenty-five, and thus his troubles with Saul lasted five years. (He was thirty when Saul died.)

V. 13, anointed him in the midst of his brethren... They probably thought this anointing meant David was going to take Samuel's place as a prophet. Christ is anointed with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Heb. 1:9.)

Vv. 14-23

V. 14, the Spirit of the Lord departed, but until Saul departed from the Lord. An evil Spirit from the Lord troubled him for not obeying the word of the Lord:

(e) The wicked spirits are at God's commandment to execute his will against the wicked. (Geneva)

This was not the Lord's fault. Saul is the one who refused to kill Agag, and to obey the Lord. (See 15:33.) Any time we refuse to obey the Lord, there will be a Spirit from the Lord to trouble us, if we are his. I have had to go make several things right because the spirit of the Lord troubled me. (I had to go to Carol and Bob Manning one Sunday morning before I could teach a SS class.)

Instead of seeking out a man (v. 16), a cunning player on an harp to sooth over the troubling spirit, Saul should have been making his sin of rebellion and stubbornness right. (15:33.) He should have been seeking out the man of God, Samuel, to help him deal with his sin.

Notice Saul's servants called it an evil spirit from God (16:16), when actually it was a spirit sent by the Lord to trouble him over his sin. LORD = the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament was calling Saul to repentance. (v. 14.)

Saul spent the rest of his life of 38 years trying to cover the troubling spirit, and we can read the ways he tried to do it. How much easier it would have been to submit to God in this area, but God knew Saul would not, so he chose David to replace Saul. David – a man willing to confess and forsake sin as soon as it was known to him. Whereas, Saul was not willing to do this. God can use anyone who is willing to confess and forsake sin.

Question: Does not God have to give the spirit of repentance? Thus he did not deal with Saul with that spirit.

We should mention that Saul's rejection of God's word left him easy prey for an evil spirit:

... If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul, by means of the corrupt humours of his body and passions of his mind. He grew fretful, and peevish, and discontented, timorous and suspicious, ever and anon starting and trembling; he was sometimes, says Josephus, as if he had been choked or strangled, and a perfect demoniac by fits. This made him unfit for business, precipitate in his counsels, the contempt of his enemies, and a burden to all about him. (MH)

V. 16, evidently, music will cover over the conscience to a point. Is this a reason music today is as it is? A generation trying to cover the troubling spirit from the Lord?

Saul's problem was with the Lord — he rejected the Lord God. Therefore, his friends should have advised him to send for a man of God, Samuel, to pray with him and lead him in repentance. There is certainly nothing wrong with sending for good music, but that only covered the problem.


1) "dealing with demons," or casting out devils in order to deal with spiritual problems will probably lead to more problems.

2) medication to deal with spiritual problems will not solve the problem.

Saul's problem was spiritual, so there is no other way it could be dealt with.

Furthermore, People will do good things for God to avoid doing their first responsibility: "I'll work, give, or whatever, but don't make me put aside my rebellion and stubbornness."

Note the soothing effect of David's music upon Saul. "Music cannot work upon the devil, but it may shut up the passages by which he has access to the mind." (MH)

If godly music calms the evil spirits that may be in control, what does the foul music of our day do to a person?


V. 18, David's qualifications.
V. 13, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David.
V. 14, but the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.

I) V. 16, A man. This was the first qualification needed, and this is the first qualification needed today.

17:10, the Philistines cried Give me a man.
13:14, God himself (The Lord) sought a man, and he still does. Ez. 22:30

1) The Lord sought for a man.
2) Saul's servants sought for a man, 16:17.
3) Saul sought for a man.
4) and even the Philistines, the heathen world cried for a man.

And the work of the Lord as a whole today is suffering for lack of a man. Where are our men who will take a stand and assume leadership in standing for Chris and bringing people to him in their everyday life.

V. 16, and of course, there is only ONE MAN who can satisfy the cry for A MAN, the man, Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5. Only through him will any man be a man. (V. 18, a son of Jesse.)

"Find me a man who has all of these qualities." All Saul wanted was a good harp player.

II) V. 16, Cunning in playing (3045/393 BDB)

V. 16, "Find someone who is known for his skill in playing."
V. 18, "This man is known for his skill in playing."

a. Do what you do the best you can. David did not flaunt his skill with the harp, but his skill did draw attention.
b. hard worker. He spent untold number of hours alone watching his few sheep. (17:28.) But it was not wasted time. He spent it practicing. (16:18, Saul gets more than he bargained for, and would have avoided David if he had known.

III. V. 18, mighty, valiant man. (2428/298 BDB) Known for his strength and efficiency. Joshua 1:14, courageous, efficient at "whatever his hands found to do." (Valiant – firm, endure.)

Judges 6:12, describes Gideon at his call down behind the wine press. He answered, "Who, me?"

a. how efficient are we at doing what God has given us to do?
b. are we known for our strength and determination to do right then doing that efficiently? Are we known for our stand for Christ?

IV. man of war.

a) wiling to fight, and take a stand.
b) Soul should have known better than to allow someone like this close to him because the people would be able to compar. the two. Saul chose to sit under the tree over going to war. (14:2.) And the people would naturally chose the one who will fight for them. Here David was already known as a man who would not be pushed around, but stood up for right. And Saul opens a can of worms because the people will compare the two.

Note that God is not just looking for someone who can play a harp, but for someone who will go out and fight the good fight.

V. prudent in matters. (995/106 BDB) Discernment, discreet, having understanding.

a) Proverbs 1:5, this person will learn from his successes as well as from his failures (mistakes).
b) Psalms 119:34, a person can pray for this and it is seated in the heart.
c) Proverbs 28:4, 5, it comes from obeying the word of God.
d) Psalms 111:10, it is a gift of God, but does not come automatically.
It requires a persistent diligence, and is more than I.Q.
It speaks of character.
A person is at fault if he does not have it, and to not pursue it will bring God's punishment. Proverbs 2:1.

Man sais, "More money, better environment, more teachers, smaller classrooms, more this & that to the tune of unlimited funds, facilities and employees (1 employee for every 4 students) — the spending doubles, the class size is cut by ½, and the scores drop by 100 points. (1983-84 school year.)

Why? Because God, Christ and God's moral principles have been removed. No matter how much money is spent, it will not improve until the principles found in God'[s word, Jesus Christ, are reinstated.

Many other things and the word of God allows us to be prudent in all of these matters. To have understanding – understand what is taking place around us, and the answer to all the questions of life.

VI. a comely person. (8389/1061 BDB) Shape, appearance – used to described the form of a beautiful woman, rather than appearance. A handsome man – Outward beauty.

a) Christ's form was marred horribly (Isa. 53) and disfigured.
b) See here – this quality was put last – With Saul, it was the quality that drew attention to him.

2 Peter 3:4, But let it be the hidden man of the heart.
David's hidden man was his first qualification. What draws attention to us? What do we depend on to draw that attention?

VII. And the Lord was with him.

a) This is where the problem arose. The Lord departed from Saul, replaced by a troubling spirit over Saul's sin. The Spirit now rested on David, and for the next 38 years, Saul fights David because of envy, rather than dealing with his sin. (Rather fight than switch.)

Now see in these qualifications:

God not only wants a person who can serve him in the palace, but he wants a person who will also fight for righteousness. A well qualified person will have a balance of service in the house of the Lord, and standing against sin and corruption and witnessing for Christ. A person who will go out and fight.

V. 21, David came to Saul... Divine Providence placed David where he would learn what is expected of a king, and what he should not do, also. Here a young and "small" man starts his upward journey. The Lord will move him up from a "nobody" to king, a little at a time, and through the school of hard knocks.

V. 23, the troubling spirit came to Saul. Rather than deal with it and make it right, he covered it up with music. He got lost in good things, rather than doing the best thing – humbling himself before God.

(849) Ths troubling spirit could only be avoided, covered up so long. (18:8 through the rest of 1 Samuel.) And the evil spirit took control.

Saul in his pride would not face facts.
The Spirit of the Lord left him.
Replaced by an evil, troubling Spirit.
David receives the Spirit of the Lord.
Saul recognizes what happened with David, and pursues David for the rest of his life. (18:8 on.)
How much better would it have been if Saul had put aside his pride in chapter 17, killed Agag himself, admitted his sin, and spent this time seeking God instead of seeking he man who exposed his sin. (18:12.)

How like human nature – we would rather spend our time pursuing the person who exposes our weaknesses than dealing with the weaknesses exposed. We hate the individual rather than the sin the individual exposed.

Note Leviticus 10:1-7 and the death of Nadab and Abihu. The family was forbidden to mourn the death of the two men (sinners); rather, they were to mourn the burning which the LORD hath kindled. In other words, they were not to mourn the death of the sinners, but they were to mourn the fact of the sin that lead to their deaths.

Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. The person or thing that offends us exposes an area where we do not love the law of the Lord as we should. Instead of being mad or upset, bitter or offended, and the person, we need to find out why we do not love the law of God.

Saul did not love thy law ; he did not love to do God's word (15:17, 22, 23). David exposed that lack of love, and Saul spent his life trying to do away with David because he exposed his weakness. OTHERS ONLY EXPOSE OUR WEAKNESSES.

Saul died a miserable death where he could have had a very successful reign like he had the first two years when his attitude was still humble. (14:37-39, even if it is my son, I will deal with it.)

Saul could not blame anyone but himself for not:

Obeying God.
Waiting on the Lord (15:22)
Then not excepting the responsibility of his sins.

God never brings a pressure on us that will not make us stronger, if we will face it right. Satan cannot get through to us unless God can use that to shape us for his glory and our good.

Saul could not blame it on David, although he did. He envied David because David had the Sprit of the Lord that Saul had forfeited. It was easer to hate and pursue David than to lay aside his pride.

It is easier to find fault with others than to admit that others expose our faults.

I know people by the score who are very active in the Lord's work, but motivated by a ‘troubled spirit.' How do I know? 1) they do not spend any time alone with God or anyone else, but always must have someone around them. They do good things for God, but avoid their first responsibility – "I'll work for god, but don't make me put aside my rebellion and stubbornness."

16:19-23, Saul sent for David.

1) Saul requested a ‘perfect' man (v. 18).
2) now he sends for him.
3) spends the rest of 1 Samuel trying to get rid of him. The ‘perfect' man, David's son, will expose sin, and will either draw others to him or push them away. we must either get right with him around, or get him away from us.

V. 23, the evil spirit from the Lord should have made Saul 1) stop, 2) look and 3) change, but it did not. It made him lose himself in this work, seek relaxation, refreshing, anything to keep him from having to face his sin.


August 24, 2000

To me today the major point of this chapter is God's unseen hand at work in history– Divine Providence. Of course, his providence is seen throughout Scripture, as well as throughout history. Though fallen man likes to believe he is in control of his life and the surrounding events, he is always move by the hand of God.

14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 15 And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. 16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. 17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. 18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. 19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

The Lord stirred up Saul to where he asked for someone to play soothing music for him. One of his servants knew of David, and suggested that David be summoned. Saul did it.

In other words, though all of these ideas seemed to originate with the individuals involved, they did not. Moreover, though David had been kept in the wilderness watching a few sheep, the Lord knew where he was, and how to get him where he needed to be in God's plan. When God's timing was right, he moved the hearts of the right people to work his plan.

Notice that after the anointing of David, evidently he went back to the sheep. He did not start looking for some way to work his way up in the world. Moreover, after David was anointed to be the next king, the Lord did not move him right into the office. David had to go through many years of hard trials to strengthen and test him before he could be trusted with the kingdom.

God must put a person through various tests and trials before that person can be used properly for God:

Those whom God designs for any service his providence shall concur with his grace to prepare and qualify for it. Saul is distempered; his servants have the honesty and courage to tell him what his distemper is (#1Sa 16:15), an evil spirit, not by chance but from God and his providence, troubleth thee. (MH)

The Lord's providence led David into the "lion's den," but it was for a purpose.


God knows where I am, and if he wants me to continue watching my few sheep, then that is what I must do, and I must be content with that responsibility.

(September 9, 2000) The Lord seems quite distant to me at this point (dad's funeral was last Tuesday, 9/5). That along with what happened with Carol seems like left me out in the cold. But by faith I know Divine Providence is guiding in the manner pleasing to Him.