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.”
1 Samuel 16.1 (ESV)
This is a crucial moment in our Advent History as God takes very obvious control of the situation.
Man’s choice has failed all too often and will do so again and again but here God, as it were takes the situation and intervenes in a very dramatic way. The ESV translation above puts it more powerfully than the NIV which has ‘I have chosen one of his sons to be king’ .
was to be different, not just God’s choice but a choice for God himself.
As the events unfold we see differences in the way God sees and the way man sees (even Samuel). V.8 Eliab is brought before Samuel and his immediate reaction is ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him’, but he is wrong and will be wrong seven times!
The key verse here is verse 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.”
John Woodhouse, in ‘Looking for a Leader’ suggests that this is all a matter of seeing and that the difference between the way that man sees as compared with the way that God sees is that while man sees with the eyes God sees with the heart.
In 1 Samuel 13.14, Samuel tells Saul that his kingdom will not continue and that ‘The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people…’
These words ‘after his own heart’ have traditionally been taken to mean a particularly godly man – a man with a heart like God’s but David was just like all his fellow men, infected with the canker of sin, as is so clearly revealed in what we know of the rest of his life, so it makes much greater sense to understand the words, as one commentator has put it, as ‘a man of God’s choosing, a man God has set his heart on.’
This may seem a very different understanding of these words but they pave the way for the great Davidic Covenant set out in 2 Samuel 7, which confirm absolutely that Advent history is still on course in spite of Saul’s failure, David’s subsequent failures and the failures of all the family line who followed him.
It is a challenging understanding for many, for it is the Biblical doctrine of Election – of God’s sovereign choosing – but without it, Advent history would never have come to its glorious conclusion. But now as we shall explore tomorrow it is more firmly on course than previously, if that is possible!