[1-Samuel 16:1] AND THE LORD SAID UNTO SAMUEL, HOW LONG WILT THOU MOURN FOR SAUL, SEEING I HAVE REJECTED HIM FROM REIGNING OVER ISRAEL? FILL THINE HORN WITH OIL, AND GO, I WILL SEND THEE TO JESSE THE BETHLEHEMITE: FOR I HAVE PROVIDED ME A KING AMONG HIS SONS.
This chapter introduces us to David. Shimeon Bar-Ephrat ("Mikra Le-Yisrael") points out the difference between the choosing of Saul and that of David. In the case of Saul (1-Samuel chapter nine) we followed him in his search for the donkeys of his uncle and the events that lead to his meeting with Samuel and anointment with the holy oil. We also saw the importance and central dominating role of Saul in the whole affair. Here the name of David will be mentioned only at the end. We will see later that, at this stage, David was actually already known as a holy person, a man of insight, an exceptionally handsome male, a renowned warrior and a celebrated musician (1-Samuel 16:18) who already had, or was destined to, invent musical instruments of his own (Amos 6:5) . Even so in this introductory passage he is referred to as "The Little One" (1-Samuel 16:11 translated as "YOUNGEST") whose own father seems to have forgotten him and who is not called to the communal and family celebration to honor the "Seer". David is to become possibly the most important figure in the whole of Scripture yet he is introduced in an almost incidental manner. Samuel too is almost pushed to do what he has to do and he makes mistakes in judgment. Shimeon Bar-Ephrat points out that the root "RAEH" (see) is used in this passage seven times and it is used in an emphatic manner. In the choosing of Saul Samuel is the "SEER" (1-Samuel 9:9). In the case of David Samuel does not really SEE anything. He has to be shown.
[1-Samuel 16:2] AND SAMUEL SAID, HOW CAN I GO? IF SAUL HEAR IT, HE WILL KILL ME. AND THE LORD SAID, TAKE AN HEIFER WITH THEE, AND SAY, I AM COME TO SACRIFICE TO THE LORD.
"HE WILL KILL ME": The penalty for rebelling against a lawful king is death (Joshua 1:18). Up unto now Samuel had shown himself the type of person who was not afraid of anybody or thing but entirely dedicated to the will of the Almighty. The Natziv opines that due to his innate reluctance to act against Saul Samuel realized that his level of inspiration was lowered and he had drawn closer to the level of ordinary mortals. "AN HEIFER": English "young cow" in Hebrew "eglat-boker". As both Judge and Prophet (The "Seer") Samuel could go where he wished and offer up sacrifices that he deemed needed without necessarily having to explain his actions.
[1-Samuel 16:3] AND CALL JESSE TO THE SACRIFICE, AND I WILL SHEW THEE WHAT THOU SHALT DO: AND THOU SHALT ANOINT UNTO ME HIM WHOM I NAME UNTO THEE.
[1-Samuel 16:4] AND SAMUEL DID THAT WHICH THE LORD SPAKE, AND CAME TO BETHLEHEM. AND THE ELDERS OF THE TOWN TREMBLED AT HIS COMING, AND SAID, COMEST THOU PEACEABLY?
Perhaps they feared lest certain members of their community had committed some great crime and Samuel in his role as Judge of Israel had come to demand retribution or make atonement.
[1-Samuel 16:5] AND HE SAID, PEACEABLY: I AM COME TO SACRIFICE UNTO THE LORD: SANCTIFY YOURSELVES, AND COME WITH ME TO THE SACRIFICE. AND HE SANCTIFIED JESSE AND HIS SONS, AND CALLED THEM TO THE SACRIFICE.
Samuel did not approach the family of Jesse directly. He went to the community heads, told them he needed to arrange a community sacrifice, and then when this was in preparation he notified Jesse and his sons to make sure they too participated and prepared themselves. Sanctification meant immersion in a body of water such as a Mikva. A Mikva is essentially a pool of water a minimal portion of which is rain water that has not been drawn up manually. A Living Spring also serves the same purpose and in some ways may be preferable. Archaeological excavations show that in many (most?) villages of ancient Judah there existed an inbuilt mikvah besides, or as part of, each dwelling.
[1-Samuel 16:6] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THEY WERE COME, THAT HE LOOKED ON ELIAB, AND SAID, SURELY THE LORD'S ANOINTED IS BEFORE HIM.
[1-Samuel 16:7] BUT THE LORD SAID UNTO SAMUEL, LOOK NOT ON HIS COUNTENANCE, OR ON THE HEIGHT OF HIS STATURE; BECAUSE I HAVE REFUSED HIM: FOR THE LORD SEETH NOT AS MAN SEETH; FOR MAN LOOKETH ON THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE, BUT THE LORD LOOKETH ON THE HEART.
This is a famous passage. God sees us inside.
Bar-Ephrat emphasizes that the use of words here repeats the theme that the same criterion that went to the choosing iof Saul were no longer applicable. In the case of Saul his good looks and tall manly appearance were stressed (1-Samuel 10:23).
[1-Samuel 16:8] THEN JESSE CALLED ABINADAB, AND MADE HIM PASS BEFORE SAMUEL. AND HE SAID, NEITHER HATH THE LORD CHOSEN THIS.
[1-Samuel 16:9] THEN JESSE MADE SHAMMAH TO PASS BY. AND HE SAID, NEITHER HATH THE LORD CHOSEN THIS.
[1-Samuel 16:10] AGAIN, JESSE MADE SEVEN OF HIS SONS TO PASS BEFORE SAMUEL. AND SAMUEL SAID UNTO JESSE, THE LORD HATH NOT CHOSEN THESE.
[1-Samuel 16:11] AND SAMUEL SAID UNTO JESSE, ARE HERE ALL THY CHILDREN? AND HE SAID, THERE REMAINETH YET THE YOUNGEST, AND, BEHOLD, HE KEEPETH THE SHEEP. AND SAMUEL SAID UNTO JESSE, SEND AND FETCH HIM: FOR WE WILL NOT SIT DOWN TILL HE COME HITHER.
" THE YOUNGEST": Hebrew "HaKatan" literally "The Little One".
David may have been considered a bit mad, a kind of religious eccentric whose family did not know how to relate to?
BECAUSE FOR THY SAKE I HAVE BORNE REPROACH; SHAME HATH COVERED MY FACE.
I AM BECOME A STRANGER [Hebrew: "Muzar" in colloquial Hebrew also denoting "weird"] UNTO MY BRETHREN, AND AN ALIEN UNTO MY MOTHER'S CHILDREN [Psalms 69:7-8].
Was David (despite his known achievements) considered a kind of "weirdo", a "religious freak"?
Geniuses sometimes border on insanity. People who experience spiritual exaltations sometimes behave in odd ways. David later in his career at one stage pretended to be insane and succeeded in convincing the King of Gath that he really was off his bonkers (1-Samuel 21:10-22:1 Psalms 34). Perhaps he had insights of his own into the ways of mental aberration?
In my army service I once overheard two soldiers discuss means of convincing the Army authorities that one was mad and therefore exempt from duty.
One of them said that a madman lurks in the psyche of every person and there always a danger through play-acting of losing control.
People who take drugs are sometimes convinced that they had spiritual experiences. They take "trips" that sometimes they never really return from.
So too, cases are known of deeply religious people who without drugs go on "journeys" of their own. This does not mean that David was affected in this way.
It may be that the phenomenon was known and that something about David aroused the suspicion of his family.
[1-Samuel 16:12] AND HE SENT, AND BROUGHT HIM IN. NOW HE WAS RUDDY, AND WITHAL OF A BEAUTIFUL COUNTENANCE, AND GOODLY TO LOOK TO. AND THE LORD SAID, ARISE, ANOINT HIM: FOR THIS IS HE.
"RUDDY": Hebrew "Admoni" generally meaning someone with red hair but also applied to those of a blondish hue.
This explanation of ours has been contested but it accords with common usage and popular Jewish understanding of the text.
It also accords with the explanation of Shadal (Luzatto), Kara, fits in best with the other commentators and that of the Sages and with common sense.
"GOODLY TO LOOK TO": Hebrew "Tov Ro-ay" which can also be interpreted to mean
"He Saw Well" i.e. he had GOOD PERCEPTION. This perception was evident in his appearance.
People with red hair are frequently fiery tempered and sometimes violently so. The Sages (Midrash Shmuel, Numbers Rabah 63:8) point out that David too had this characteristic in the potentiality of his constitution but he knew how to apply it with his GOOD PERCEPTION.
"ARISE, ANOINT HIM": The word for "arise" is "KUM" and is given in an abrupt imperative form. The sages suggest that Samuel felt an inner hesitation so the Almighty gave a preemptory command: FOR THIS IS HE. He was the One, the Man, the once and only true king of Israel.
[1-Samuel 16:13] THEN SAMUEL TOOK THE HORN OF OIL, AND ANOINTED HIM IN THE MIDST OF HIS BRETHREN: AND THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON DAVID FROM THAT DAY FORWARD. SO SAMUEL ROSE UP, AND WENT TO RAMAH.
"THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD": a Spirit of Prophecy (TARGUM).
"AND THERE SHALL COME FORTH A ROD OUT OF THE STEM OF JESSE, AND A BRANCH SHALL GROW OUT OF HIS ROOTS:
"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 OF THE FEAR OF THE LORD" [Isaiah 11:1-2];
[1-Samuel 16:14] BUT THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD DEPARTED FROM SAUL, AND AN EVIL SPIRIT FROM THE LORD TROUBLED HIM.
Until now Saul had benefited from Divine Inspiration at a level approaching that of Prophecy. This was despite his mistakes and disobedience in key matters.
[1-Samuel 16:15] AND SAUL'S SERVANTS SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD NOW, AN EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD TROUBLETH THEE.
[1-Samuel 16:16] LET OUR LORD NOW COMMAND THY SERVANTS, WHICH ARE BEFORE THEE, TO SEEK OUT A MAN, WHO IS A CUNNING PLAYER ON AN HARP: AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, WHEN THE EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD IS UPON THEE, THAT HE SHALL PLAY WITH HIS HAND, AND THOU SHALT BE WELL.
The therapeutic value of music is well known. Just after being annointed as king by Samuel Saul was told that he was to meet a group of Prophets playing musical instrument and as a result he would receive the gift of prophecy and this is what happened (1-Samuel 10:6, 10). Now Divine Inspiration had left him, the void had made him deranged and the need for music was felt.
[1-Samuel 16:17] AND SAUL SAID UNTO HIS SERVANTS, PROVIDE ME NOW A MAN THAT CAN PLAY WELL, AND BRING HIM TO ME.
[1-Samuel 16:18] THEN ANSWERED ONE OF THE SERVANTS, AND SAID, BEHOLD, I HAVE SEEN A SON OF JESSE THE BETHLEHEMITE, THAT IS CUNNING IN PLAYING, AND A MIGHTY VALIANT MAN, AND A MAN OF WAR, AND PRUDENT IN MATTERS, AND A COMELY PERSON, AND THE LORD IS WITH HIM.
David was already known for his outstanding qualities.
Abarbanel points out that the possession of these qualities in one person was highly unusual since they tend to pull in opposite directions, e.g. a foremost musician is not likely to be also a warrior and military expert. Music was very important for David. The Psalms were mostly composed by David and were originally set to music. We have already recalled how in later generations David was to remembered for the invention of musical instruments (Amos 6:5). David was to institute a choir and orchestra of Levites in the Tabernacle service.
"AND DAVID SPAKE TO THE CHIEF OF THE LEVITES TO APPOINT THEIR BRETHREN TO BE THE SINGERS WITH INSTRUMENTS OF MUSIC, PSALTERIES AND HARPS AND CYMBALS, SOUNDING, BY LIFTING UP THE VOICE WITH JOY" [1-Chronicles 15:16]. Before he died, David (under Divine Inspiration) referred to himself as "THE SWEET PSALMIST OF ISRAEL" (2-Samuel 23:1).
"THE LORD IS WITH HIM": It happens that everything can seem to "be going" for someone and they do not succeed.
Stalin has been quoted as saying: "God is on the side of the big battalions".
This is only partly true. There are times when it is not true at all.
It definitely helps to have all the necessary qualifications and really be qualified but something beyond that is needed to put the qualifications into efficacious effect..
[1-Samuel 16:19] WHEREFORE SAUL SENT MESSENGERS UNTO JESSE, AND SAID, SEND ME DAVID THY SON, WHICH IS WITH THE SHEEP.
[1-Samuel 16:20] AND JESSE TOOK AN ASS LADEN WITH BREAD, AND A BOTTLE OF WINE, AND A KID, AND SENT THEM BY DAVID HIS SON UNTO SAUL.
[1-Samuel 16:21] AND DAVID CAME TO SAUL, AND STOOD BEFORE HIM: AND HE LOVED HIM GREATLY; AND HE BECAME HIS ARMOUR BEARER.
[1-Samuel 16:22] AND SAUL SENT TO JESSE, SAYING, LET DAVID, I PRAY THEE, STAND BEFORE ME; FOR HE HATH FOUND FAVOUR IN MY SIGHT. Saul was the acknowledged monarch and could have commanded outright but he chose to make a request. Even if this request could not be very well refused it shows sensitivity on his part that he expressed it as such. David was in fact already a full grown man at this stage but he was part of his father's household and worked on his father's estate and Saul respected this.
[1-Samuel 16:23] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THE EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD WAS UPON SAUL, THAT DAVID TOOK AN HARP, AND PLAYED WITH HIS HAND: SO SAUL WAS REFRESHED, AND WAS WELL, AND THE EVIL SPIRIT DEPARTED FROM HIM. Perhaps the healing qualities should be studied more?
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