Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Anointing David Part Two

Last week, we discussed the story of David’s anointing from 1 Samuel 16.Today, I would like to continue to write about the implications for discerning in this story. We left off in the previous post with a hesitant Samuel with orders from God to travel to Jesse’s house. Samuel is obedient and follows God into the unknown.

When he arrives in Bethlehem, he finds a fearful bunch. They are unsure of Samuel’s intentions; Samuel assures them that he has come in peace. The family is instructed to prepare for a sacrifice.

(1 Samuel 16:5 NIV) Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

What is going to happen? How is God going to direct Samuel at this point? As we think about discerning, this text reminds us that our ideas are not always God’s plan. We get some insight into Samuel’s thoughts in verse 6.

(1 Samuel 16:6 NIV) When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

It seems clear why God brought him to this place. An apparently handsome and prestigious man is the first to arrive. He is the oldest of Jesse’s boys. Samuel is ready to pour the oil. But wait . . . God does not share Samuel’s opinion.

(1 Samuel 16:7 NIV) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God’s words to Samuel remind him (and us) that God has a different measuring stick. I would suppose that Samuel was a bit caught off guard. However, he keeps this in mind as he inspects each of Jesse’s sons.

(1 Samuel 16:10 NIV) Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.”

Samuel’s trip to Bethlehem appears a failure. Why would God have allowed him to journey to this place without finding the anointed? Samuel wonders if he has covered everyone.

(1 Samuel 16:11 NIV) So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Surely, there must be more.

(1 Samuel 16:11 NIV) “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”

The youngest son was not even an option (in his father’s mind). No need to bring him in from the field. As we discern, we must be careful to bring all options the table. Sometimes God uses even the most unlikely solutions. I love this next statement.

(1 Samuel 16:11 NIV) Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

With an urgent posture of expectation, Samuel waits on God. No resting until we find out if this is the one. On the one hand, Samuel seems to be out of possibilities. On the other hand, he may be eager to see if God is going to use a boy that has no reference letter from his father.

(1 Samuel 16:12 NIV) So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

God’s choice often surprises us. As I have worked through the discernment process with teams at First Baptist, I am often shocked by the final decision. God sometimes leads in directions that seem illogical or impractical.

May we learn to leave all the options on the table until God takes them off. May we open ourselves to be surprised by the movement of God.

Update: On 5/5/14, I preached a sermon on this topic. Watch Here