Bible Study Life of David - Shepherd, Servant & King

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Bible Study Series: Life of David 

David - Shepherd, Servant & King

by F Gordon

1Sa 16:1-13 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." (2) But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me." The LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' (3) Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate." (4) Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?" (5) Samuel replied, "Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me." Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. (6) When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD." (7) But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (8) Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either." (9) Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, "Nor has the LORD chosen this one." (10) Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The LORD has not chosen these." (11) So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep." Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." (12) So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one." (13) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

We begin this study into the life of David, who was called from the sheepfolds to be crowned king of Israel.  With this in mind we need to first start with some background information as to the state of the people of God at that time.


After Joshua died God gave the nation of Israel judges to rule them, followed by Eli and his wicked sons, then finally Samuel the prophet.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 1 Samuel 8:4-7

The nation came to Samuel when he was old, concerned that he would die.  Samuel’s sons did not walk in the way of their father.  “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations”, was their cry.  They wanted to be like all other nations with a man that would lead them as king. Samuel was unhappy but God told him, it is not you they have rejected, but me.  God’s plan was for His people to be separate from other nations, not like them.  He wanted them to live by faith trusting in God to lead them, not to look to a man.  So God gave them their request. Samuel warned the nation that if they chose a king he would demand many things from them.  Their children, workers for the fields, people for war, cooks, their land and vineyards.  A king would tax the people, and yet still the people of Israel wanted a king to be like the other nations.

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.  And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.  

1Sa 9:1-2 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. (2) He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites--a head taller than any of the others.

Saul was chosen.  He was handsome, of great stature, a head taller than any man, yet his life is a picture of his flesh dominating him not the Spirit of God.

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."  1 Samuel 13:14

In 1 Sam 13:1-14 Saul fails to wait for Samuel as the Philistine army gathers around him and being afraid, he takes on the priest's role and offers a sacrifice. For this act of disobedience he was rejected as king by God.  When Samuel eventually arrives he declares to Saul that the Lord has found for himself a man after his own heart to rule his people.  

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt.  Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' " 1 Samuel 15:2-3

In 1 Samuel 15 Saul continues to go from failure to failure.  He was given clear instructions from Samuel concerning Amalek, (If you remember, Amalek was the nation which first met Israel as they journeyed from Egypt to Canaan hindering and opposing God’s calling on His people). God instructed Saul to attack Amalek, utterly destroy everything and leave nothing.  But Saul chose to keep the best of the Amalekite flocks to sacrifice to God and kept King Agag alive.  He found the best of what God had condemned and did not obey the instructions of God.  For this he was rejected and in 1 Samuel 15.26-28 the Kingdom of Israel was torn from him and given to another man.

God Chooses David

Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons." 1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel grieved over Saul.  What had become of this first king? What was the state of God’s people?  Yet here we have a mild rebuke from God, Stop mourning over Saul, I have rejected him, now go and do My will.  Samuel is sent to Jesse the Bethlehemite for a king of God’s choosing is among his sons. So what do we know of this king's heritage?

Jesse was the grandson of Boaz the great kinsman redeemer from the book of Ruth.  This is a picture of Christ as both willing and able to redeem and purchase us.  Isaiah 11.1-5 speaks of a rod from the stem of Jesse to come forth, which is Jesus and Isaiah 11.10 also speaks of a root of Jesse to come.  In Revelation 22.16 Jesus says he is the root and offspring of David.  David doesn’t mention his fathers spirituality but twice in Psalm 86 and 116 he refers to his mother as the maidservant of the Lord.

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.' Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you."  So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, "Do you come peaceably?" And he said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.  1 Samuel 16.2-5

Samuel is afraid, he is called by God to go and anoint the next king while Saul still sits as king before the people.  Given the nature of Saul we can understand Samuels reluctance.  It is the mark of the flesh to stay in power and kill all rivals to the throne.  Samuel then consecrates Jesse and his sons, inviting them to the sacrifice.

So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him."  But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his 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 called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."  Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."  Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these." 1 Samuel 16.6- 10

When Eliab came before Samuel he was sure that this was God’s pick for the new king.  Eliab was the firstborn of Jesse, he had a good appearance and was big in stature but God said don’t look at the natural for I have refused him.  There is a vast difference between man's pick of leadership and Gods.  How many are appointed to positions of leadership in the world and in the church because they have appealing looks, great stature, are a self made man.  This was the failure of King Saul.  God’s way is different, he chooses as to the condition of the heart.

What type of heart God is looking for?

In 2 Chronicles 16 we have King Asa, who instead of trusting God made a league with the king of Syria for his safety. In verse 9 God spoke through his prophet Hanani, that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro though the earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.  God desires in us a heart that gives him room to show himself strong.  We sometimes think if only I were stronger, more capable, confident, powerful, but the heart God is looking for is the one that cannot be strong in itself, but allows God to work in and through his servant as these following verses show; 

“My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways. Proverbs 23.26 and “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  1 Corinthians 1.26-29

And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?" Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here."  1 Samuel 16.11

All of Jesse’s seven sons came before Samuel and all had been refused by God all except one who was keeping the sheep, the youngest.  The youngest son had been given the lowliest job of tending the sheep, he even seems insignificant to Jesse for he is not even called to the feast or consecrated.  This young boy is called David which means beloved.  God’s method of training for those he calls is often in low positions to show faithfulness in the small things

The two great shepherds of the nation of Israel were Moses and David.  Their shepherding jobs had times of isolation, boredom, loneliness and responsibility.  They both had to deal with sheep which were dumb, stupid, stubborn and defenseless which makes it an excellent training ground for dealing with God’s people.  God was watching both Moses and David and neither of them would have expected God to show up when He did.  Moses was 40 years in the backside of the desert caring for his father in law’s sheep and one day God spoke to him from a burning bush.  In the same way Jesus lived in obscurity for 30 years.  Not preaching or healing but faithful in carpentry and as a son to Mary and Joseph.  When he was baptised God said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” Matthew 3.17.  What had he done to please the Father?

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" 1 Samuel 16.12

So David was brought in.  He was ruddy with bright eyes.  Ruddy means red, he had red hair but unlike Esau who was red and had no time for God, this red head had a heart that pleased God, a heart that desired the Lord and His ways.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16.13  

So David was anointed before his brothers and the Spirit came upon him from that day.  He was anointed to be king but before the crown is placed on his head, he must endure years of trial and persecution which is a picture also of us.  We have been given the Spirit as a deposit or guarantee and until we are redeemed and crowned we must endure till God changes our position.

In our next study we will look at David’s first trial and his active faith in God.