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Looking at the Heart

Looking at the Heart

Preached by Mike Aiken

1 Samuel 16:1-23

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.

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.


1 Samuel 16:1 is a sad verse but we have seen this coming for the last couple of chapters (cf. 13:14). Saul, while chosen by God to be Israel’s first King, turned out to be a failure according to God’s ways. Saul decided to do things his way (Ill. Like the song by Frank Sanatra: “I did it my way”). Saul partially obeyed but to God this was disobedience (1 Sam. 15:22,23). He was a pragmatist meaning he did whatever worked. Today we are moving forward in our study of 1 Samuel and we are looking at God’s new choice for a King. In this story we see what matters most to God-the heart.

1. David is anointed King- vv. 1-13

Samuel is commissioned to anoint a new King (vv. 1-5)

Samuel is grieving over Saul- maybe over Saul’s sin which resulted in God’s rejection. God confronts the prophet with a question and a command. He gives Samuel good news which is a cure for his grief. Application: In the dark world we live in where we recently have heard of horrible killings of people by terrorists, of police being killed etc. The only comfort and hope we have is found in God’s revelation to us- His Word, the Bible. It is here where we find all we need as we struggle with grief over the darkness of this world. Questions to ask: Is our grief a biblical one? Such as sin- ours and others. There is a time and place to grieve but are you wallowing in self-pity, unbelief and bitterness. There is a time to move on and that is what God does for his prophet- he tells him to move on.

One thing that stands out to me is that the King God chooses from Jesse’s sons is “for himself.” This is God’s King and God’s choice is the best choice for his people. God wants his people shepherded properly. You are beloved by the God of this universe and are the apple of his eye. Acts 13:16-23 gives us a good summary and overview of this time in Israel’s history. Acts 13:16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.

Samuel anoints one of Jesse’s sons (vv. 6-13)

Samuel is a great prophet but he has two sins found in this passage. He has a fear of man (v.2) and he is struck by outward appearances. We are also like Samuel where these idols can still rule our hearts as believers.

Appearances (vv. 6-7). 1 Samuel 16:6 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.”

As humans we are greatly influenced by appearances. There are a few sayings about appearances: “appearances can be deceiving” or “don’t judge a book by its cover.” We have all done this. A great cover doesn’t guarantee great content. As a tennis player I have at times thought the tennis balls I had with me for playing were adequate. They looked new and may have been used a little but once they were tried it was evident that “looks were deceiving.” They just didn’t have a good bounce; they looked new but were flat. Sometimes food appears to look good but it isn’t. A man may be handsome or a woman beautiful but inside they are a mess and selfish. Don’t marry someone on appearances only! “Appearances can be deceiving.” Many Americans are living beyond their means and going into debt which they cannot pay off. They look rich but are really aren’t and are headed to financial ruin.

God sees the heart (v.7). This is one of the key verses in all Scripture and it is a key to the book of 1 Samuel. The word translated “provide” in v. 1 is the word in Hebrew for “see.” What matters most is what God sees- the heart. What is the heart? According to the ESV Study Bible, “The ‘heart’ in Scripture refers to a person’s inward moral and spiritual life, including the emotions, will, and reason.” The ESV Study Bible helpfully explains the main point of this passage which is that “outward appearance cannot predict whether someone will faithfully obey the Lord, for a person’s actions flow from his heart (2 Chron. 16:9- “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him;” Psalm 51:10– “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me;” Prov. 4:23– “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Mark 7:21-23– “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Luke 6:45– “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” 1 Thess. 2:4– “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please god who tests our hearts.”

The heart and not appearances needs to be the focus of our attention in the church (in the selecting of leaders- men and women of character need to be chosen), in the home (our parenting), and in society (in choosing political leaders). Ill. Bill Arnold shows how the novel by George MacDonald entitled The Curate’s Awakening shows how appearances can be deceiving with the two main characters- Thomas Wingfold who was an unbelieving Anglican Curate of a church. The other is a deformed dwarf named Joseph Polwarth. The novel shows how God uses a godly dwarf to bring an unbelieving pastor to faith in Christ. What the story shows is “The truth about a person is a matter of the heart and not the eyes.” In our homes are we raising are children to be little Pharisees who go through the external motions and don’t do things out of a love for God. Since we can’t see the heart as God does how can we focus on the heart? Two Book Recommendations: 1. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp and 2. Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp (both are in our Café book store.)

VV. 8-13. David was not at the feast but after going through seven of Jesse’s sons Samuel asked if there were any more because the Lord had rejected all 7. The youngest and smallest, who is watching the sheep, is invited to the sacrifice and is anointed. We don’t know who this youngest son is until v. 13 where he is finally named. David didn’t appear to be a candidate but he was based on his heart. He wasn’t externally bad looking, in fact, the text tells us he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. All of this ultimately points to Jesus, the Messiah, The son of David, who didn’t appear to be the Messiah (not by the standards of the religious leaders of Israel). He wasn’t the conquering King Israel was expecting. Jesus was a humble king and has a kingdom not of this world. This King, Jesus, would conquer sin and evil by dying a sacrificial death to atone for the sins of his people. This King was rejected by his own people. (John 1:10-13: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Listen to Isaiah 53:2-3 which speaks of the Messiah’s appearance: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus didn’t look or appear like the Messiah and was rejected by his own people but he was God’s chosen Messiah (Anointed One) and is a prophet, priest, and king for his people.

Why was David anointed at such a young age? The answer seems to be preparation. God values it highly. David will be prepared by his father at home. His caring of the sheep was one major way of preparing David to be Israel’s king but he is soon going to get an unusual invitation to use one of his gifts.

The Holy Spirit- v. 13. Notice that the Spirit of God, the 3rd person of the Trinity, is given to David at his anointing. Anointing with oil was done for kings, high priests, and prophets and it set them apart for special service to the Lord. Those anointed with oil also were given the Spirit to empower them for service. Now we move to David’s service to Saul which prepares him to be the shepherd King of Israel.

2. David serves Saul- vv. 14-23

David is a type of Christ the Messiah (the anointed one). David foreshadows the greater David to come- Jesus who is the son of David according to the flesh is of the tribe of Judah from which God said the King would come.

David was from Bethlehem and Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

Saul and David are being contrasted in this chapter. David is a man after God’s own heart (cf. 13:14). David now has the Spirit of God for empowerment to do his Kingly duties. Saul on the other hand does not have the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. This has nothing to do with the losing of Salvation. That is an impossibility for those who are regenerated by the Spirit to faith in Chirst.

Notice that David is a Shepherd and it would be appropriate to call him a Shepherd King. David in becoming a King of Israel will be doing the same job but to different sheep. Instead of animal sheep it will be “people” sheep. Why was David anointed so early? One good reason may be to adequately prepare him for his task of being the Shepherd King.


As I close this message it is important to remember three things: (1) Sin is serious and is to be grieved over (the good news is our savior who takes away our sin), (2) God is sovereignly in control of all events in our world (both the good and the bad), (3) God sees the heart and the heart should be our focus and criteria for choosing leaders and in our discipleship in the home and the church. 1 Samuel 16 is a crucial point in redemptive history and it ultimately points to Jesus, both David’s son and Lord, and the savior of the world (Psalm 110:1).

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