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On November 8th, 1895, a German physics professor named Wilhelm Rontgen stumbled on new kind of electromagnetic radiation.
As he experimented with cathode rays, he noticed that a fluorescent screen that had been painted with a chemical coating was lighting up with a faint glow, even though the radiation emitter was several feet away and wrapped in black cardboard.
As he continued to explore this effect, he found these rays could also pass through books and papers on his desk.
It wasn’t long after this initial discovery that Rontgen discovered something else about this radiation.
After his wife had assisted him in the lab by holding a photographic plate that was exposed to these rays, Rontgen noticed something remarkable.
The developed photograph clearly revealed, not simply her hand on the edge of the plate, but what was inside of his wife’s hand.
The picture showed the bones under her skin.
Since Rontgen did not know what type of radiation this was, he simply labeled them with an “X”.
So Wilhelm Rontgen became the first person to ever see inside the human body using X-rays.
Now if we simply stop and think about all of the broken bones and internal injuries that have been diagnosed and treated through the use of X-rays over the last 100 plus years, I think our appreciation deepens for just how important this discovery was.
Of course today, advanced X-ray CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI’s, and ultrasound technology have given us an unprecedented ability to do something unthinkable several centuries ago: to look inside the human body without even the smallest incision.
But this morning, when it comes to seeing inside, the word of God is going to remind us of something even more remarkable.
So turn with me to I Samuel 16.
The Passage: “I Have Provided for Myself a King” (16:1-13)
As we tackle I Samuel 16:1-13 this morning, let’s do three things together.
Let’s first do an extremely brief review of what happened before this chapter.
Then, second, let’s read through and try to understand what the passage actually says.
And finally, third, let’s then talk about how God’s word this morning should affect both our perspective and practice.
So first, let’s set the stage.
As we arrive on the doorstep of chapter 16, we come with a troubled heart in light of everything we’ve read about Saul, the first king of the Israelites.
The whole nation, including Samuel, had pinned their hopes on Saul.
But time and time again Saul proved his inability to lead.
Yes, he could rally the people.
Yes, he could win battles.
But ultimately Saul failed to lead God’s people because he failed to first be led by God.
A. Direction: The Sons of Jesse (16:1-3)
So in light of Saul’s rejection as king, listen to how we begin chapter 16.
Look with me at verses 1-3:
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.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go?
If Saul hears it, he will kill me.”
And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do.
And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”
So at the beginning of chapter 16, we find Samuel doing the very same thing he was doing in verse 34 of chapter 15: he is grieving over Saul.
Remember, Samuel had once led Israel as a judge.
He had been their leader.
Samuel not only led God's people, but he loved God's people.
If he could not lead them, then maybe God's willingness to give the people a king would mean stability and guidance and blessing for Israel.
But Saul was not the man Samuel hoped for.
He was not what God intended.
He was not the leader Israel needed.
So Samuel is grieving.
But grief like this has an expiration date.
When God says it's time to stop grieving, we should stop, shouldn't we? God gives Samuel two reasons why his grieving period should come to and end: 1) because God has rejected Saul and is not changing his mind.
Samuel's grief will not change anything in regard to Saul.
Sometimes our grief persists simply because we will not fact the reality of a situation.
When God closes the door, it's closed.
And 2) Samuel no longer needs to grieve because God has chosen a new king.
Instead of grieving over what was, Samuel needs to be encouraged about what will be.
But notice the language God uses to describe his selection of the new king.
Remember, that Saul was God's provision in light of the people's sinful, God-rejecting petition back in chapter 8.
But here God says in verse 1: “I have provided for myself a king among Jesse's sons”.
So we know from that language that this next king will not be like Saul.
But when Samuel hears about God's command to go and anoint the new king, he is not filled with faith.
He is filled with fear.
Samuel is probably thinking about how Saul was anointed, which was a very public event.
If he strolls into Bethlehem with his horn of oil and facilitates a public anointing, Saul will find him and kill him.
Now, obviously some time has elapsed between chapter 15 and chapter 16, enough time for Saul to become embittered and violent, and so much so that Samuel now fears what Saul will do to anyone who threatens his illegitimate kingship.
But God has a different idea about this anointing.
This anointing will be more private, than public.
This anointing will be part of a smaller sacrificial ritual, rather than a national assembly.
All Samuel needs to do is go, take a cow, and invite Jesse and his family.
God will do the rest.
God will show him this new king.
B. Inspection: The Sons of Jesse (16:4-10)
Look with me at verses 4-10:
Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem.
The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.
Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.”
And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.”
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.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel.
And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”
9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by.
And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”
10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.
And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
So when Samuel finally gets to Bethlehem, we see here that the elders of the city are just as scared of him as he was of Saul.
Why they are afraid is not clear.
Maybe they think he is coming with a message of divine judgment against them.
Maybe what happened back in chapter 15 has become well-known.
Maybe the falling out between Samuel and Saul has put everyone on edge.
I’m not sure the reason,
So after Samuel assures them that they have no reason to be afraid, he initiates this sacrificial gathering/royal anointing ceremony.
Of course, there is only one problem with this idea of an anointing ceremony: who is Samuel supposed to anoint.
Jesse has come with seven of his boys.
Which of them is the king?
But we read that when Jesse’s family first arrives, Samuel seems convinced that God’s choice is as clear as day.
It has to be Eliab, the firstborn.
The guy just looks like a king.
I like the way one commentator expresses this:
“One can understand Samuel’s thinking.
Eliab was doubtless an impressive hunk of manhood.
Around 6’ 2’’ perhaps, about 225 pounds, met people well, all man but with social grace, excellent taste in after-shave lotion, and so on.
Perhaps he’d starred as wide receiver for Bethlehem High School football.
Probably made the All-Judean All-Star team.
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