Our scripture this morning is I Samuel 16:1-13. I grew up in Sunday School, so of course I heard this story more times than I can count. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve known the story, and I’ve known the moral: “Humans look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” It’s right there in verse 7.
But I didn’t just have that answer, I had all the answers – at least, all the important ones. I could have given people a run-down of all God’s opinions on every important issue, and I often did. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m reading from the Common English Bible because the NRSV, your pew Bible, is really good with accuracy but really bad at story-telling. Listen for the word of the Lord in the story of the anointing of King David.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have found my next king among his sons.”
“How can I do that?” Samuel asked. “When Saul hears of it he’ll kill me!”
“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say, ‘I have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will make clear to you what you should do. You will anoint for me the person I point out to you.”
Samuel did what the Lord instructed. When he came to Bethlehem, the city elders came to meet him. They were shaking with fear. “Do you come in peace?” they asked.
“Yes,” Samuel answered. “I’ve come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Now make yourselves holy, then come with me to the sacrifice.” Samuel made Jesse and his sons holy and invited them to the sacrifice as well.
When they arrived, Samuel looked at David, Jesse’s youngest. He was reddish brown, had beautiful eyes, and was good-looking. Samuel thought, That must be the Lord’s anointed right there.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven’t chosen him. God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.”
Next Jesse called for Abinadab, who presented himself to Samuel, but he said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen this one either.” So Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen this one.”Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord hasn’t picked any of these.” Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Is that all of your boys?”
“There is still the oldest one,” Jesse answered, “but he’s out keeping the sheep.”
“Send for him,” Samuel told Jesse, “because we can’t proceed until he gets here.”
So Jesse sent and brought him in. Eliab was tall and good-looking, and reminded Samuel a little of Saul. He was exactly what Samuel thought a king should look like. The Lord told Samuel, “That’s the one. Go anoint him.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him right there in front of his brothers. The Lord’s spirit came over Eliab from that point forward.
Then Samuel left and went to Ramah.
The word of the Lord?
Thanks be to God.
No it’s not. Come on, this is the story of the anointing of David and I just said God rejected David and Samuel anointed Eliab instead! Continue reading