*It's a beautiful Thursday morning here in Madison. Last night Zander and I rode some of the rides at the Coal Festival. He rode all of the rides. I, however, being older and wiser was able to say "no" to riding a few of them. Unfortunately, my neck is somewhat stuck in one place this morning. So, note to self..."Don't ride merry-go-round next year." Today, we move forward in the story of the rise of the Israel monarchy. King Saul has managed to make God mad, and therefore, his kingdom has been torn from him. A new king is about to emerge. Who will it be?
"Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him...Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived. Samuel saw Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord.' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him." (I Samuel 16:4a,5b,6-7a)
Samuel arrives in Bethlehem because that was where God told him to go. God specifically told him to go to the house of Jesse, for one of his sons would be the chosen one. Immediately, Jesse's son Eliab makes his appearance and Samuel is convinced that the search is over. Why? Well, just like Saul Eliab has the "it factor." Yep, he's got it going on. He is tall, dark, and handsome. He most likely looks like he just came in from the gym. But, God says to Samuel, "Nope, not him!" This is where we get the verse of scripture that says: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7b) This time looks won't win you the contest. So, Jesse calls in his next son. What takes place is sort of a pageant, only with the sons of Jesse parading themselves before the judges. (a panel of one in this case)
"Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, 'The Lord has not chosen these.'" (I Samuel 16:10) Wow! Suppose they held a beauty pageant and no one won? Poor Jesse! Poor sons! Samuel then asks: "Are these all the sons you have?" (I Sam. 16:11) It's almost as though Samuel is asking: "Is that it? Is that the best you have to offer?" Of course, these seven sons were not the "only" sons this man had. I laugh when I say "only seven sons." He had eight sons. He just didn't bother to have the eighth to enter the pageant for, well, why should he? He was the youngest. The youngest is called in and as soon as he arrives: "Then the Lord said, 'Rise and anoint him; he is the one." (I Samuel 16:12b)
We learn that the boy is named David. Now, ironically he was called in from tending the sheep. If you recall Saul was discovered while chasing the donkeys. Neither boy woke up in the morning with the intention of ending the day as king of Israel. They were just tending to their chores and duties. But, this is where the similarities end. While Saul was described as "head and shoulders above every one else". and "had it all going for him," David was the least to be considered. You know, he was probably the last to be picked to be on any team. Saul was from the Tribe of Benjamin, David was from the Tribe of Judah. Also, David is found in the little "insignificant village of Bethlehem". Wait a minute! Hmm...He is from the Tribe of Judah, and from Bethlehem? Oh, something is beginning to take shape here. And, oh! I forgot to mention David's Dad is named Jesse. What do we know about Jesse? Remember Boaz from the Book of Ruth. Boaz and Ruth were the parents of Oded, while Obed became the father of Jesse. (Ruth 4:21-22) This means that Ruth was the great-grandmother of David. O.K., so David is anointed there in the home of Jesse in front of the brothers who are still most likely licking their wounded egos. Then something very interesting:
"and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the Lord ha departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him." (I Samuel 16:13b-14)
This is not a misprint on my part. It does say "evil spirit from the Lord." Do I have an explanation for this? Well, sort of, but it's probably not a very good one. Some things I'm still working on. When we get to the Book of Job we will discover that there was a heavenly council. Guess who showed up at that council? Satan. And Satan seemed to have a role in that council as the antagonist who was given permission to test Job.
Anyhow, what we do know is that while the Spirt of the Lord came upon David an evil spirit came upon Saul. It seems that the spirit of the Lord could not simultaneously be upon two people at the same time. The Spirit's role in this situation enables the individual to carry out their God-given task. O.K., so what about this evil spirit? What does it do? Well, it is obvious to those around Saul that this spirit is tormenting him. Is he just nervous? Is he depressed? What is it? I would suggest that whatever it is it is an inward battle. Saul, at this point, does not seem to be a person who is mean. His attendants suggest that they find someone who can play music from the harp "and you will feel better." (I Samuel 16: 16) This is how Saul first meets David. Saul, we are told, liked David and "Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him." (I Samuel 16:23) The notion that music can tame evil spirits is widespread in world folklore. I have to say that I believe that music does have the ability to soothe the soul. On the other hand it has the ability to drive one nuts. *My wife is praying right now that I don't get on my music soap box. Poor Melody loves a certain steak house. Because I'm a loving, and wonderful, and (all the attributes of the best husband) (I know, laugh, laugh) I will take her there. (sometimes...when I have to make up with her, or it's her birthday, or it's Mother's Day, or she just looks at me and says "take me there!") Anyhow, while I love the food, the music drives me to my breaking point. On the flip side, years ago while I was teaching in the Calhoun School system I was doing a long term stint teaching first grade. We had a little girl in class who was a wonderful little girl. She had ADHD or something similar. She was not on medicine. However, she had a prescription. It was for...ready...to be placed in a quiet room where she could listen to classical music for fifteen minutes per day. Guess what? It worked wonderfully. David plays on the harp and it soothes Saul's soul. All is well...Um...that is until a different song comes along. Join me tomorrow as the story keeps getting better. -Pastor Rick