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TEXT: I Samuel 16:1-13
SUBJECT: Life of Samuel #10: The Lord's Anointed
There comes a time in a man's life when it occurs to him, 'I didn't do what I hoped to do, and now, it's too late to do it'. Cautious men-like myself-are especially prone to feel this way. Shying from hard and risky things, we live to wish we hadn't. But we're not alone in our regrets: bold and ambitious men are subject to the same frustration. In middle age (and later), they wonder why they didn't do more with their lives, and why things didn't turn out better.
Samuel was one of these men. Few have lived a fuller and more active life than he did. As a boy, he was called to announce God's judgment on the leaders of Israel. When they fell under it, it was he-now a young man-who assumed the leadership and ruled the people for decades.
His work was varied and very hard. He was a priest, offering sacrifices to God and prayers for His people (while keeping a sharp eye on the Tabernacle). He was a prophet, preaching the Word of God, mostly to people who didn't want to hear it. He was a judge, applying the Law in three courts, and he was the commander-in-chief, mustering armies and leading the charge against God's enemies.
While nothing in this world is perfect, Samuel's career was the next thing to it. At his retirement, he stood before the nation and challenged them to find fault with his public service or his private life. They had nothing to say against the man-and they weren't flattering him. They and their king swore to his integrity-
The Lord is witness this day, and His anointed is witness, that you have not found anything in my hand. And they said, He is witness.
Samuel would have settled into a long and happy retirement. Except for one thing: he was a failure.
He was not preaching, praying, and judging to occupy his time. He was doing these things to bring the people back to their God. But that's not where they were. They were as bad as ever. If not worse.
Like so many old men, Samuel must have sighed, I didn't do what I hoped to do, and now, it's too late. That's what he thought. A lifetime of service, and all for nothing.
He couldn't have been more wrong. Though way up in years and no longer in leadership, his life's work was not way behind him: it was staring him in the face. What Sinatra sang falsely about himself, was true for Samuel-
The best is yet to come.
The story begins with Samuel mourning for Saul and his failed monarchy. This is not a bad thing, for the Lord feels the same way, only far more deeply. In the 18th Century, Deism became popular in England and, to a lesser degree, in America. It assumes there is a God, but He is far removed from the world. If He cares at all for what we do, it's not much, and He sure doesn't feel anything for us. This god is not the Lord God of Israel! The God we know and worship cares for His creation, especially for the human part of it. And that goes double for His people.
Samuel, therefore, is not an old mushy man, crying over spilled milk. He's a man of God, deeply moved by the plight of a king he still loves. Though the Lord has rejected Saul, Samuel hopes for the best-
God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.
His hopes, however, will not be met. Saul will not obey the Lord and he must be replaced by someone who will. To this end, God commands the prophet to stop grieving over Saul and anoint the man who will take his place. That man-He goes on to say-lives in Bethlehem and belongs to the family of Jesse.
The command is clear and Samuel is willing to obey it. But there's a problem. King Saul is not eager to be replaced, and if the old man goes to Bethlehem with a horn full of anointing oil, the king is sure to stop him (if he can) and kill him (for sure).
This reveals the sort of man Saul has become. When selected to be the king, he hid in the baggage, not wanting the honor. But now that he's got it, he's ready to murder a prophet to keep it! Samuel is not paranoid! He knows what Saul is. And, before long, the king will prove him right!
The contrast between Saul (the false king) and Jesus (the True King) could not be sharper. Saul clings to power for dear life, but Christ lets go of His power. The reference is Philippians 2:6-7. Speaking of our Lord, it says-
Though He was in the form of God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.
The True King is worthy of all the perks of Lordship, but He sets them aside and becomes a Servant, willing to do anything to save His people, up to and including going to the cross in their place. Saul, on the other hands, is not fit to rule, but clutches at power, even if it ruins his people (which it nearly does).
Samuel has to get to Bethlehem without rousing the king's suspicion? How will he do it? The Lord tells him how-
Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the Lord'.
He did as he was told and nobody in the king's service raised an eyebrow.
When he got to Bethlehem, he invited Jesse and his family to join him for dinner. He singled out this man because the Lord told him to, because one of his sons would be the next king. But which one?
Without saying why he wanted to meet the family, Samuel told the proud father to introduce his sons. Which he did, in order. The oldest son is Eliab, who, like the king, is a tall man and well put together. Samuel says to himself-
Surely, the Lord's anointed.
He was wrong, of course, and should have known better. Saul is eighteen inches taller than any man in Israel-and look what a mess he's made of things! The Lord doesn't want a 'kingly looking man', but a man who will lead the nation His way-
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.
The next son is Abinadab, but he is also not the man. Neither is Shammah, the third son; nor the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh son, either. It seems Jesse is plumb out of sons-and not one of them is the king!
Samuel wonders if he has any more sons. He does-number eight-but he's such a 'nothing' at home that he wasn't even told about the party-
Behold, he is keeping the sheep.
This is more than an oversight. It's an insult! The young man, like a Descendant of his, is-
Despised and rejected of men.
But, not of God! The moment he steps in, the Lord tells Samuel-
Arise, anoint him, for this is he.
Wasting no time, Samuel calls the family together, puts David in the middle, and empties the horn of oil over his head. The young man is anointed with oil, and not with oil only, for-
The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.
Underline the word, rushed. It speaks of the Spirit's fullness. When we speak of 'rushing water', we don't mean water being poured from a glass; we mean a waterfall, a burst dam, or a river at flood tide. Lots of water. And, for David, lots of the Spirit!
In this chapter, the Holy Spirit would allow David to exorcise the demons who tormented King Saul. In the next chapter, the Spirit enabled him to kill a man of war more than nine feet tall. Later, the Spirit kept him safe from his worst enemies, then He gifted him to gather and bless the outcasts in Israel, then to unite the nation under God's rule, to write hymns, to lay up supplies for the Temple; in a word, it was by God's Spirit that David did anything and everything he did!
Here, he points straight to his son, the Lord Jesus. At the start of His public life, He came to the synagogue in Capernaum, and opening the scroll to Isaiah 61-
The Spirit of the Lord is
Because He has anointed Me
To proclaim good news to
He has sent Me to proclaim
Liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the
To set at liberty those who
To proclaim the year of the
Then it the shortest and most electrifying sermon ever preached, He went on to say-
Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Everything our Lord Jesus did, He did in dependence on His Father-God, and this means, He did it all by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The other important words are, from that day forward. The same Spirit came on Saul years before, and enabled him to do pretty much the same things. But the Spirit was not at home in his heart, and when He got a mind to, He left him, thus robbing Saul of the authority, wisdom, and power he needed to fulfill his office.
But the Spirit who left Saul stayed with David from this day until the day of his death more than fifty years later. This is why David both started well (as Saul had) and finished even better (as Saul hadn't). In a word,
It is the Spirit who gives life;
The flesh profits nothing.
This is where today's story ends.
And where the message begins. What is today's story about? Many lessons could be drawn from it. For example, what you are on the inside means more than what you are on the outside. This is a true doctrine, and an important one, too, especially when it comes to choosing a husband or wife. But it's not what the story is about.
It's also about a man finding his life's work in old age. This too is encouraging for people who are closer to the end of life than the beginning.
It's about the power of the Holy Spirit, without which we can do nothing for God. It's about obedience and accepting God's will for your life, even if it's hard and scary.
True as all of these things are, they're not what the story is about. The message can be summed up in two words:
God provides what we need.
Years before the people demanded a king, and the Lord gave them what they wanted-a bad king! If this is what they wanted, however, it is not what they needed. What they needed, in fact, was a king to bring God's Rule to them, and Saul was not the man for that!
David was. God found him, Samuel anointed him, and in a few years, he came to the throne, and served his generation by the will of God. Not perfectly, but well. God gave His people what they needed.
But we need more than David. David can fight Philistines, but he cannot fight the devil. He can make us keep the Law, but he cannot make us love the One who gave it. He can organize the Temple service and provide the livestock for sacrifice, but God doesn't live in a Temple and-
It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin.
Worst of all, David cannot live forever. For forty years, he led Israel and served the Lord. But then he died and his kingdom went to Solomon who was not the man his father was. When Solomon died, things went from bad to worse. The nation was divided and often at war. Before long the people were conquered and scattered to the four winds-where most of them remain.
We need a King to fight the devil for us. We need a King to write God's Law in our hearts. We need a King to bring God to earth and to offer a sacrifice so great that it would take away our guilt, wash away our sins, and make us acceptable to God. Most of all, we need a King who won't up and die on us and leave us to the mercies of someone else.
What we need, God provides.
He sent us a King, who, at His weakest, stood toe-to-toe with Satan and knocked the devil out of him! If a man worn out with fasting and loneliness and sleeping outside can beat the devil, what do you think a Resurrected and Glorified Man can do?
God sent us a King to secure our obedience from the inside-out. Two scenes from the New Testament illustrate His work. After the Resurrection, our Lord met some men on the road to Emmaus. These men had known the Bible their whole lives, but He opened their understanding to its Message, but that's not all He did: He also made their hearts burn with love for the Word.
God sent us a King who didn't need a Temple or a Tabernacle or an Ark, for He Himself was the place where God came down to earth and met His People in grace.
God sent us a King who offered a Sacrifice so great that it would do what the other sacrifices only hinted at. It took away our guilt-all of our guilt, not some of it! It washed us from the stain of sin, and made us made as acceptable to God as the King is Himself.
Best of all, the King God sent us won't up and die on us. Because you can only die once, and He did already. Now, He is alive forevermore.
Everything we need, God provides. The Bible says so, for example, in Psalm 84-
The Lord will give grace and glory,
No good thing will He withhold from
Those who fear Him.
We have far more than a proof-text, however. We have the whole history of God's people to support our claim. If His people needed food and water in the wilderness, the Lord gave them food and water. If they needed judges to save them from the Canaanites, the Lord gave them judges. If they needed prophets to call them back to God, the Lord gave them rising early and sending them. If they need a good king, He gave them one.
If we need more than a King, a king, yes, but more than a king, if we need a King who is also our God and Savior, God gave us a King who is also our God and Savior.
Unto us a child is born,
Unto us a Son is given.
And the government shall
Be upon His shoulders.
And He shall be called
The Prince of Peace.
If God has given us Christ, how can we say or think or feel that He won't provide? That He's a stingy God, a Father who doesn't hear the groans of His People or listen to their prayers?
Let us, therefore, identify our true needs and separate them from our mere wishes. Let us pray consistently and fervently for the things we need. Then, let us wait patiently-
Stand still and see the salvation of God.
One last thing: Let us remember that-while God's power and goodness do not depend on us-they often come through us. David was God's gift, but he didn't drop out of the sky. He came through Jesse, a man blind to his son's potential, and through Samuel, too, an old man who had tried hard to reform Israel, and failed, till the day he poured oil on David's head. Let us, therefore, become willing dispensers of God's grace. Bring the compassion of God to the suffering; bring the encouragement of God to the depressed; bring the riches of God to the needy; bring the friendship of God to the lonely. And don't feel your life has been wasted. You've still got something to do. Go do it. And the love of God be with you. Amen.
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