The Torch is Passed

1 Samuel 16:14-23
14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.
15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.”
17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.”
18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.”
19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.”
20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul.
21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”
23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

God’s sovereignty cannot be questioned. In this story we are allowed to peer into the background machinations of how He accomplishes His will in the lives of His people.

Saul has proven to be a disastrous king for the people. While he is instrumental in keeping the Philistines out of Israel, he has become an egomaniac and the nation remains at war for his entire reign. His ability to make a godly decision is gone. Because God loves His people, He gives them an entirely new king in David, but it will be years (more than 20) before David comes to the throne. But God puts David into the palace for training. Remember, Saul does not know that David has already been anointed as the new king, so he is willing to have David around and for the time being, finds him to be a great comfort.

Just a couple of textual notes, as these few verses seem to be chocked full of interesting and sometimes confusing little tidbits. 
1. Spiritually, the torch is passed. God removes His favor from Saul and passes it onto David. The “tormenting spirit” does not necessarily mean that Saul is now demon possessed. It means that his own weaknesses and struggles have the power to harm him without the tempering power of God’s spirit at work. Commentators have all kinds of suggestions as to what this means, ranging from full out demon possession (which the text really doesn’t support) to a case of manic-depression, which would be absolutely impossible to diagnose from the distance, as it were. But clearly, as we will see, Saul is a troubled man because he has rejected God and is left to his own devices.
2. 
 The description of David by Saul’s advisers is rather all encompassing and depicts a knowledge that seems to supersede the information that should be known about him at this point. After all, he’s just a shepherd boy in a large family from Judah at this point in the story. One of two things is likely here; the advisors are saying things they don’t really know in order to build David up in Saul’s mind, making him suitable for service in the king’s court. Or, the story is being told out of sequence, as is often the Hebrew way. This event may have happened after the upcoming story with Goliath, thus making David more a national hero and figure than just a simple shepherd boy. 

3.     Jesse sent a gift with David. This was accepted practice. When the king sent for you, you would always bring a gift along with you. 

4.     “Armor-bearer” could include all kinds of jobs. This doesn’t mean that David’s sole task was to carry Saul’s armor. Clearly he was far more than that and is depicted in future stories as being quite close to the king at all time, even eating at his table. “Armor-bearer” was merely a title.

As we are given this glimpse into how God works things out, we have to come away with the knowledge that God always works out His will whether we are aware of His movement or not. When our lives just seem to be a mess He is there, causing circumstances to go the way that pleases Him and accomplishes His will. Doors open up and opportunities are offered or withdrawn – all of it leads you to the place God wants you. David probably didn’t have an inkling into all that was going on in order to bring him to the throne properly trained and readied for the task. But God did all that was necessary to place him into the right place at the right time. God does the same thing in our lives, even though we are not kings, and if you are very observant and truly looking for God, you might even get to see it!

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