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1 Samuel 16:1-23

Purpose in the Pasture

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 05, 2024

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Purpose in the Pasture

1 Samuel 16:1-23


Intro: Right, Left, Tap, Tap.


In 1 Samuel 16 we are introduced to a young man named David who had been set apart by God as the next king in Israel. While David would one day be known as the greatest Old Testament king, this morning we get a look into the place where God was preparing the great king. And it is his backstory that I want to focus on this morning because throughout David’s life, the Lord had been preparing him for what was coming, but the specifics of David’s early life would not lead anyone to assume that the Lord was making the next king.  David was out in the pasture, overlooked and put out to pasture by his own family, but this morning we will see that God had great purpose for David in the pasture and though it may have been difficult to see, the Lord was working while David was waiting. 

Prior to this chapter, we saw the downfall of the first king of Israel, a man named Saul. Saul was put in place due to the insistence of the people of Israel (1 Samuel 8:5, 10:1).

After being anointed as the first king Saul made one mistake after another, ultimately rejecting the word of the Lord. The Lord then made it clear to Samuel the prophet who made it clear to Saul, that the Lord had rejected Saul as king. While Saul would remain enthroned for many years, the next king would be anointed immediately.

After Saul first disobeyed the instruction of the Lord, the Lord gave insights into the description of the next king to Saul through prophet Samuel.


1 Samuel 13:14, But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.


The Lord was seeking a king after his own heart, and where He will end up finding that king, is out in the pasture tending sheep. This is important for you and me to see presently, not just in David’s life, but in ours…There is purpose in the pasture.


Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-13


 In verse one we read that Samuel was to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of man named Jesse as the next king. Samuel is reluctant because Saul, the first king of Israel was fully aware that he had been rejected as king, and someone would be anointed to take him place. Saul was once reluctant to take the place of king, but as the chapters continue, we will see Saul doing anything and to anyone in order keep his status as Israel’s king. When Samuel is sent to anoint the next king, he was understandably concerned that Saul would take his life if he found out about the anointing. The Lord tells Samuel to go and offer a sacrifice to the Lord and invited Jesse and His sons, making it an ordination ceremony of sorts for the selection of the next king.

Jesse accepts the invitation and brings all but one for consideration. All his sons were present, except for David, he was left out in the pasture. This leads us to the first point to help us find purpose in the pasture…


  1. Don’t Lose Heart


1 Samuel 16:4-5, Samuel did what the Lord told him, and he came to Bethlehem. Then the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” And he said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.


  • Consecration was when people washed outward garments and abstained from certain things. An inner and outer cleansing, setting oneself apart for God.


  • Once Jesse and his sons show up, Samuel, knowing that one of Jesse’s sons will be the next king, begins looking them over, one by one.


1 Samuel 16:6, When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is standing before Him.”

  • Eliab was the oldest of Jesse’s sons, he is the first one put before Samuel, and as Samuel looks at him, he thinks, “This man sure looks like a king. This must be the one God would have me anoint.”


  • Samuel saw a tall, good looking young man who had the look of a great king and leader. Samuel looked at the outward appearance and though, surely this is the one. The outward appearance was his standard of measure at that moment, but the Lord would direct Samuel differently.


  • Israel had already made this mistake with their first king. Saul looked the part.


1 Samuel 9:2, Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.

  • Saul was noted as being head and shoulders above the rest, a good-looking guy, had a way with words, people would listen to him, see him, and believe him…God saw through him.


  • He didn’t have the heart that would be required for the king of God’s people.


  • He turned his back on the Lord and did not carry out His plans. Saul was the people’s choice, but God was now going to bring a king of His choosing.


  • While Samuel puts priority on appearance at first, Jesse seems to put priority on age.


1 Samuel 13:8-10, Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” Next Jesse summoned Shimea, but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.”  In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”


  • Jesse had eight sons, but only seven were invited to what would be the ordination ceremony, the anointing of the next king.


  • Jesse was looking at the family pecking order, the Lord was looking at the heart. Man looks at the outside, the Lord looks at the inside.


  • The way forward would not be based on the things people look at or see, but rather what God looks at and wants to see in the leader of His choosing…He was looking for one with the right heart.


1 Samuel 16:7, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


  • This is important to note because the outward appearance is standard of measure many use in decision making. Determinations are often made based on what is seen on surface.


1 Corinthians 1:27-28, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are.


Illus. What do you see?


  • In this life, we most often judge people based on their status, how they look, behave, dress, talk, or carry themselves. But God sees through all of that.


Proverbs 31:30, Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting… (NIV)


Illus. Shrinkflation.


  • The Lord was looking at the heart and was specifically looking for a man after his heart.


Proverbs 27:19, As in water a face reflects the face, so the heart of a person reflects the person.


Illus. The heart.


2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.


Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)


  • Because all we do flows from there, it is no surprise what God looks at and wants to search and see when it comes to you and me.


  • What does God see when He sees your heart?


  • David was left behind, not chosen, selected, or given a shot by his earthly father and the truth to this story is an important one to see.


  • While David wasn’t chosen by his earthly father to be considered as the next king, the Lord was watching, looking, and seeking for someone with a heart like His, a heart after Him, and that would be the next king.


  • David remained out in the pasture, perhaps he felt unseen and overlooked, but all the while, the Lord was watching and seeing David’s heart. And it was David’s heart that the Lord placed priority on.


Galatians 6:9, Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.


  1. Trust That He Is Working While You’re Waiting


1 Samuel 16:10-11, So Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the boys?” And he said, “The youngest is still left, but behold, he is tending the sheep.” So Samuel said to Jesse, “Send word and bring him; for we will not take our places at the table until he comes here.”


  • I love that Samuel asks this question. Because what often takes place for you and me, when a decision has to be made, we see the seven immediate options pass before us, understand that correct choice is not there, but conclude that we have missed something, or there is something that we didn’t see.


  • So, we go back to the seven options standing before us and make a decision based on what or who is in front of us.


  • After asking the question, Samuel is told that there is another son, “the youngest, out tending sheep, Samuel tells Jesse “Send and bring him, we will not sit down until he arrives.”


1 Samuel 16:12-13, So he sent word and brought him in. Now he was reddish, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” So 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 set out and went to Ramah.


  • David came in from the pasture, and Samuel is told by the Lord that this is the one, this is the next king. Samuel anoints David in the midst of his brothers.


  • Imagine it. David is believed by most Bible scholars to be around 15 years old at this point. With his 7 older brothers standing there, Samuel gets ready to anoint and appoint the next king.


And David…in there smelling like sheep and goats, “reddish” beautiful eyes, a handsome young man is standing there…and he is the one…


  • This was David’s first anointing, a recognition of the Lord calling to him personally and in front of his family. He will have two more anointings, the next would be before the tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4), and the third will be before the entire nation of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4).


  • David was anointed. What David’s earthly father didn’t see, the Lord did! David is anointed king.


  • Not everyone would know it yet. It would take time before his public appointment, but David knew what the Lord had in store for him. He knew what was on the horizon for his life.


  • And what I find quite powerful, is not just the picture that his past provided, but what is modeled through David’s life in the scenes that follow his anointing.


1 Samuel 16:14-23


  • When the Holy Spirit came upon David, the Spirit departed from Saul.


  • Prior to the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was temporary and selective. We see the Holy Spirit come upon individuals for certain tasks, or certain periods of time.


  • There was no guarantee that the Holy Spirit would remain with them, however. David will later pray and ask the Lord in Psalm 51:11 not to take His Holy Spirit from him.


  • Today, believers in Christ have the seal of the Holy Spirit which is God’s promise of Salvation and presence with His people (1 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).


  • Upon the Holy Spirit departing from Saul, he begins to be terrified by an evil spirit. Things will only get worse for Saul, we will see it as our study continues, things will get chaotic, and Saul will go crazy.


  • That said, Saul’s servants were trying to find a way to help calm him down and they decide to search for a skillful musician, someone who could play the harp in Saul’s presence so that he might become well.


  • One of Saul servants had seen a pretty good harp player in Bethlehem, it was David. Here David is described as “a skillful musician, a valiant mighty man, a warrior, skillful in speech, handsome, and the Lord is with him.”


  • So Saul sent for David, and this is how David is introduced into the court of Saul, as a harp player.


  • David would help Saul, he attended him, Saul loved David (for now), David served Saul.


  • Notice where Saul called for David from…


  • 19, “Send me your son David, who is with the flocks.”


1 Samuel 17:15, David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem.


  • It would be 15 years between the time David was first anointed and the time he was officially recognized as king. It would be a few years before he would come on the scene to fight Goliath.


  • In the in between time, David is seen, waiting, playing his harp, tending sheep out in the pasture.


  • Can you imagine this. He is anointed king after coming from the pasture, and then he is anointed the king, and heads back to the pasture…Why? Because the Lord still had purpose for him there!


Illus. Obscurity, Monotony, Reality.


Illus. Preparation.


Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


Psalm 27:13-14, I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!


Psalm 37:3-5, Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.


III.       Remember He Has a Reason for Every Season


  • In the next chapter, all of Israel becomes afraid of a 9-foot champion warrior giant named Goliath. For forty days he had come out challenging the nation.


  • Someone needed to step up in order to face the giant, but they were all afraid. Additionally, a great deal of responsibility was being put in the person’s hands. If they lost the battle to this giant, the Israelites would then become servants of the Philistines.


  • David was out tending sheep, but his three oldest brothers were specifically serving Saul and they were some of the men gathered for war.


  • While at war, David was sent by his father to bring his brothers food and it is then that he heard firsthand the threats of Goliath.


  • Nobody had been willing to step up for forty day, but upon him hearing the threat, David was, and it was his previous season that would ultimately be the reason that he was allowed to face the giant.


1 Samuel 17:33-37, David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock,  I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”


Illus. Going above and beyond.


John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”


John 10:12-13 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.


  • Some might call David unwise to risk his life in saving a lamb. Yet David believed that giving his all represented basic care for the flock.


  • His practice of best conduct would commend him before God as one who would pursue the best conduct in leading the nation of Israel.


Psalm 78:70-72, He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. 


Illus. There was a reason.



1 Samuel 16:1-23

1Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for 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, because I have chosen a king for Myself among his sons.” 2But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3And you shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will let you know what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” 4So Samuel did what the Lord told him, and he came to Bethlehem. Then the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” 5And he said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lords anointed is standing before Him.” 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass before Samuel. But he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one, either.” 9Next Jesse had Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one, either.” 10So Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the boys?” And he said, “The youngest is still left, but behold, he is tending the sheep.” So Samuel said to Jesse, “Send word and bring him; for we will not take our places at the table until he comes here.” 12So he sent word and brought him in. Now he was reddish, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13So 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 set out and went to Ramah. 14Now the Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrified him. 15Saul’s servants then said to him, “Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrifying you. 16May our lord now command your servants who are before you. Have them search for a man who is a skillful musician on the harp; and it shall come about whenever the evil spirit from God is upon you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will become well.” 17So Saul said to his servants, “Now select for me a man who can play well, and bring him to me.” 18Then one of the young men responded and said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a valiant mighty man, a warrior, skillful in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.” 19So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, who is with the flock.” 20And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine, and he took a young goat, and sent them to Saul by his son David. 21Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul greatly loved him, and he became his armor bearer. 22So Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Let David now be my attendant for he has found favor in my sight.” 23So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would feel relieved and become well, and the evil spirit would leave him.

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