The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” (I Samuel 16:1 – 3)

Whatever lesson, teaching, guidance, or exhortation I might make on this passage as a whole (because I do not read the entire passage at once but move through it section by section letting things occur to me) I want to make this point. The Lord spoke to Samuel. Not in vague terms or broad hints or inspired thoughts – but direction communication and planned actions. Now, maybe the writer of I Samuel is using an “active voice” when Samuel actually only had vague initiations about what should be done. Remember however, this is young Samuel who heard the voice of the Lord God at a young age all grown up! I personally prefer to believe that Samuel heard the voice of the Lord God through a means or medium that made it clear the communication was coming from outside of himself.

“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?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.” (Verses 4 – 5)

I guess the times they lived in, when Saul and Samuel were not in harmony but holding animosity one to the other made the elders worried that something had happened. After all, why would Samuel come to such a small place?

“When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the LORD.” 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 does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” (Verses 6 – 10)

Often when I have read this passage I have wondered if Jesse grew suspicious as to why Samuel was here. Maybe it occurred to him that Saul had been chosen in the same sort of way, Samuel inspecting the “local boys.”

“Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.” (Verses 11 – 13)

I do not think, beloved reader, that David was chosen because he had beautiful eyes and was good looking. Remember that Saul who was first anointed as king was good looking too. Remember too that the Lord God came upon Saul and he began to prophesy. Actually, I to look up how Saul came to Samuel’s attention and what happened; so I should have said that there are great parallels.

The point is, how we start out in life – or in our careers, or in our Christian journey – might not be the way we end up. Saul started out well, but lost the blessing that the Divine bestowed on him. David also started out well, and throughout his life he may have made missteps but always found his way back to the Lord God. How did this happen, you may ask. I asked. How did Saul start out so well (see chapters 8 through 13 of I Samuel for Saul’s rise and fall) and yet come to such a bad end? What about David was different?

Well, I suspect it had something to do with listening and hearing the Lord God. David, and Samuel as you remember me pointing out, listened to the Lord God. Saul, as you would or will find out if you read I Samuel chapters 8 to 13, did not listen for the Lord God but proceeded as he saw fit. However, we are not here to re-hash the kingship of Saul. Nor are we really investigating the beginning of David’s kingship. We are focusing on Samuel and he moved from sorrow to renewed hope, by listening to and for the Divine.

Remember I said I do not read the entire scripture passage at one go, but read it section by section? I tell you, beloved reader, the Spirit of Lord speaks to me as I read through the verses and guides me. It is to my constant amazement where the writing goes – a Divine stream of consciousness if you will. Maybe that is how it was with Samuel – just pondering his sorrow over Saul, and then feeling a sense of consolation from the Divine.

As we have been moving through Lent, have you been listening for the Lord God? And when the Lord God speaks, have you been responding back and be in dialogue with the Divine? This is one of the many possible activities of Lent. I tell you beloved reader, there are so many things to consider during Lent that the season is filled to the brim. May the Lenten season bring a special blessing and sense of communion with the Lord God. Selah!