Sermon on 1 Samuel 16:1-22 – “Time to Move On”

Sermon on 1 Samuel 16:1-22 – “Time to Move On”

Sermon for Sunday, March 10th, 2024 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Isa 11:1-10 ESV] 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. 6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

New Testament reading:

[Phl 3:12-16 ESV] 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Gospel reading:

[Mat 3:13-17 ESV] 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Scriptures reading:
[1Sa 16:1-22 ESV] 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.”

Introduction

It it time to move on. We move from Saul to David. A new king is anointed.

The Lord said to Samuel “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I ave rejected him being king over Israel?”

I. Time to Move On (v. 1-2)

There are times when the Lord calls his people to move on. [REPEAT: there are times when the Lord calls his people to move on.]

Of course, there is a time to mourn. And Samuel does mourn. We don’t know how long for. At the end of chapter 15 of 1st Samuel we find that Samuel went back home to Ramah and grieved over Saul. Then at the beginning of chapter 16 the Lord tell him that it is time to move on.

King Saul is not yet dead, but the Lord has declared an end to his Kingship, and Samuel has proclaimed that message to Saul.

And Samuel grieved over Saul.

The people had wanted a king. Samuel went along with the idea because the Lord directed him to anoint Saul as king. And Samuel may have hoped that good would come of this; that Israel would defeat its enemies and an era of peace and prosperity would ensue. Maybe he even grew in friendship or in affinity for Saul. But then he had to say to him “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he [God] has also rejected you from being king.”

The text is explicit that Samuel grieved OVE SAUL. But Samuel may also be grieving for the nation, the hopes of all of Israel for a victorious king now dashed. So Samuel mourns over what it could have been. Saul could have been a godly king leading the nation to great things. But, as we have seen, Saul failed over and over again, each time sinning against God, and showing that he was only out for himself.

Now God says, in effect, it’s time to move on. He says to Samuel, you have mourned over this situation. Grieve no longer. I am providing a new king, one “after his own heart.”

The Lord has work for Samuel. He says,“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.”

What is the purpose of the oil? It is to anoint a NEW king!

God knows what he is doing. Don’t fret. Don’t despair. The Lord has it all under control.

And so it is “time to move on.”

How does this apply to us?

It is not really about moving on from mourning after the death of a loved one. There is a time to mourn. And in the loss of a close loved one, that mourning sometimes will continue for years, even the rest of your life, though it becomes less frequent or less intense over time.

I think what is more applicable is the idea of “moving on from failure” and “moving on from sin.”

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And our sins grieve us. BUT the Lord has a new plan for us. A king better than Saul is to come. And I’m not speaking of David, but of Jesus Christ.

We look at our lives and despair about the “what could have beens.” It could have been so much greater. It all fell apart. And, my sin is at least part to blame. Maybe totally to blame.

We need, first of all, to “move on” from that sin, in the sense of “don’t do it again!.” Go and sin no more, is the call of Christ. That is what he said to the woman at the well. Go and sin no more.

Then, we need to “move on” in the sense that we need to look to Christ. Don’t dwell on the earthly king Saul, but on the godly king Jesus Christ. Don’t look to the lost glories of the past, but to the future glories promised of God.

When God calls Samuel to stop grieving, He also comes him to action. He says, “fill your horn with oil,” “I’ve got work for you!”

The Lord similarly calls us, not to carry around a horn of oil — that would be quite strange in our day — but TO BE PREPARED FOR GOOD WORKS, especially to proclaim Jesus as the Christ; to crown him Lord of all.

It is easier to move on if we have something to move on to. That is why when Paul tells us to “take off the old” he says “put on the new.” The old is sin, and the new is Christ. We need good thoughts and good practices to replace our bad though and bad practices. So we are to think about Christ, pray to the Lord, fill our minds with the Scripture, and live for him; not merely to cease sinful behaviors, but to replace them with Godly behavior. We are to move on, from sin to savior.

If you “put off the old” but don’t “put on the new”, you’ll more likely go back to the old. The Proverb says “Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish thing again and again.”

It is time to move on.

II. A new king of God’s choosing. (v. 3-13)

So Saul is called to anoint a new king, one, God says, that is of the children of Jesse the Bethlehemite.

Children, what is a Bethlehemite? It is a person who lives in Bethlehem. And Bethlehem is the place where who is born? Jesus.

But at first, Saul was afraid. And he has an honest concern that he brings to God.

“How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.”

Here the Lord has a plan and tells it to Samuel, “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.”

This plan is kept secret from Saul.

The question then that is often asked regarding this passage is, “Did God tell Samuel to lie?” [REPEAT: Did God tell Samuel to lie?]

I believe the answer is NO.

We know that God cannot lie. (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:8)

And it would be incommensurate with that that principle if God were to tell Samuel to lie.

To tell a lie is to say something that is not true with the intent of deception.

Samuel, by that definition, didn’t tell any lies; he didn’t speak anything that was false. But did he sin in omitting truth? I don’t think so. He was directly by God after all.

One solution to the this conundrum is to understand that a person like the sinful King Saul, through his track record, forfeits his rights to know all the truth. Consider the Dutchman during World War II who fails to tell the Nazi’s where a Jew is hiding. Would he be sinning. No. The Nazi’s and Saul alike would likely use truth for their own evil ends. So it is not well for them to be told the truth.

We know this in our own lives. Sometimes it is not wise to give out “the whole truth.” Government agents must keep secrets for the protection of the country. And parents, similarly, for the benefit of their child, sometimes rightfully refrain from telling their child everything they know.

So Samuel is not lying, and God is not asking him to lie.

Saul himself does not appear on the scene here, but the elders of the city of Bethlehem do ask Samuel what he is up to. And if Samuel hold told them his full plan, then the elders might have told Saul. So Samuel tells them, truthfully, exactly what God had told him to say. He has come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.

Here is where Jesse comes into the picture. He is an interesting figure because he is so prominent and yet so unknown. That is, his name is known, but not much else is known about him. You most often here about Jesse in those messianic passages that talk about the lineage of Christ:

[Isa 11:1 ESV] 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

[Isa 11:10 ESV] 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

[Rom 15:12 ESV] 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

The idea is that as a root or stump gives way to and gives life to the branches of a tree, so a father and great-grandfather, etc. give way to and give life to their descendants.

When it says there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit, we know that it is talking about Jesus as a descendant of Jesse.

And the genealogy is in the Bible, especially in the beginning of Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. I’ve put part of that genealogy in the bulletin.

Ruth and Boaz have a son named Obed. And Obed has a son Jesse. Jesse is the father of David. And if you keep going you get to Jesus.

But when the text says “root of Jesse” to come, it is not speaking of Christ as a branch from Jesse, but the foundation underneath Jesse’s very existence. All that Jesse is, is owed to his creator, Christ.

In fact, Revelation 22:16 says Jesus is both BEFORE AND FROM Jesse’s son David.

[Rev 22:16 ESV] 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Jesus is the root and shoot. He is before Jesse and David as pertaining to his divinity, and after Jesse and David as pertaining to his humanity.

So that is the bigger picture or important role of Jesse in the Scriptures. But in our text we also see that he is the father of eight sons. And the new king is to be found among these sons, says the Lord.

Seven of his sons are brought to the feast.

Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah and four others pass by Samuel, and in each case he says to Jesse,”The LORD has not chosen these.”

Actually with the first son, Eliab, Samuel thought “here’s the firstborn son, and he’s tall, this must be the king.” You remember Saul is tall. Maybe the new king is tall as well.

But God redirects Samuel saying “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature” and he says “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

This is often the central point of a sermon this subject. The Lord looks on the heart. Man might be impressed by your good looks, strength, height, or abilities. But God cares, above all, that we follow Him … IN OUR HEART. We saw that last week – the Lord wants OBEDIENCE. Full obedience. And the Lord loves us, not for our height, or our good looks, or our GPA, or our bench press total, but He loves our hearts which he has renewed in us to love Him.

This is to give us confidence. You are a child of God. You might not be on the cover of GQ magazine in the eyes of the world, but you are of immense worth in the eyes of God because He has called you to be His own.

If you do happen to have rock star looks however, don’t fret. That’s ok too. David, the man after God’s own heart — loved by God for his faith — also was good looking. It’s ok to be good looking. After the other seven sons of Jesse are rejected, David is called from out in the field where he was shepherding and we find out “he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.” And that’s not looked at as a bad thing. So whether our appearance is ruddy or ruff, the Lord looks on the heart.

This is an encouragement to spend more time on our virtues than on our makeup.
It is an encouragement to spend more time in prayer than in thinking about what clothes we will wear.

The Lord looks on the heart.
And He has chosen a new King, David, a man after His own heart.
The Lord has moved on, from Saul to David.

And Samuel takes the horn of oil and pours it on David, thereby anointing him.

This whole episode, God’s moving on from Saul to David reinforces the truth that the Lord works all things according to His eternal purpose.

III. The Lord works all things according to his eternal purpose. (v. 14-22)

REPEAT: The Lord works all things according to his eternal purpose.

We even find that when, in the last section of the chapter, the Spirit of the Lord rushes upon David and departs from Saul, and then God sends a harmful spirit to Saul.

This probably sounds quite shocking.

God sends a harmful spirit!

It’s even more shocking if you read the KJV:

[1 Samuel 16:14 KJV] But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an EVIL spirit from the LORD troubled him.

But other translations say “a distressing spirit,” “a tormenting spirit” or “a harmful spirit,” from the Lord.

The discussion here is that of the relationship of God and Evil. Or even the definition of evil itself. And there have been various approaches to this subject. It is not my intent in this sermon to get into these different approaches. Merely, I want to emphasize that God is in control of all things. Even the greatest evil of all, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

All things. The Lord works all things according to his eternal purpose, even this spirit that he sends to Saul.

So when all appeared broken in Samuel’s mind; his hopes shattered, God was working. He was bringing up David to be King, and even more, was bringing Christ to the world. The Lord works all things according to his eternal purpose.

When we are called to “move on” in life, let us recognize that God is at work. Even through bad times and even though evil is active in the world, yet God’s eternal purposes will be fulfilled including our salvation and His glory.

Now, one final thought.

Application: Christians are Called from Obscurity

Jesse is not previously known in the Bible. He’s not a notable man. He lives in tiny Bethlehem. But from his humble family comes not only the King David but Jesus Christ.

And David was called from obscurity. He was the last of eight sons. He was a lowly shepherd working in the field. Yet, God called him.

Jesus too was called from obscurity. Born in tiny Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth of Galilee. A carpenter’s son.

While David was called to be King, Christ was called to be prophet, priest, and king, and messiah, and savior.

And Jesus calls His people from obscurity. Fisherman, tax collectors, men of no power or wealth in the world became his Apostles. And all who he calls, even in our day, and no matter how small our origins yet He calls us for His own reasons and blesses us to be His people.

Whether we are tall or not
Whether we are handsome or not
Whether we come from a respected family or not
God calls us even from our obscurity.
He calls us to great things: to move on from our sin, our idols, and our failures and to freely follow Christ all our days.

So let us look to Christ, moving on from the old self, and being renewed in His image. Let us pray.