Samuel anointed Saul the first king over Israel - Saul was an obvious candidate, strong, brave, tall and handsome. If he were around today he would be the celebrity king - on covers of magazines and followed by paparazzi. He lived life fast and hard, was prone to strange behaviour and conflicting priorities. Entertaining as he was, commanding armies and winning victories, he had been corrupted by the very thing God had commissioned him to do. Saul became a grief to Samuel and God rejected Saul and his descendants as those who would carry the regal heritage.
At the height of Samuel's grief God call's him to anoint a new king (1 Samuel 16). A dangerous mission - anointing a new king when the current king had a perfectly healthy successor: an act of treason, a cause for civil war. God commands Samuel to go under stealth in order to acheive His goal.
It's a fascinating piece of history. Samuel, who once before had sought a king, sees a succession of seven strong and impressive men from the chosen family. With each one Samuel is impressed but God speaks with clarity:
"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 theLord looks on the heart.” 1Sam 16:7God does not care for external and outward appearance. When the people had cried out for a king, God had granted them what they wanted, a king like the kings of the other nations. Now it was time for God to give them what they needed, a king unlike the kings of the other nations: one whose heart would be the measure of his usefulness to God.
The last son is brought, this boy is brought from attending the sheep - he's good looking but he does not fit the bill of a king in the making.
And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then 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. 1Sam 16:12-13David, this shepherd boy, was to be king. He is the least likely, the worst of choices from a human perspective. God's sight penetrates where human eyes fail. David would fore-echo the King who was to come in many ways. David, the worst and the least choice became the anointed of God (literally 'Messiah' in Hebrew) well before he took the throne - the intervening years would show that being the Messiah was not about comfort and easy victories but is a hard thing to bear and to live out.
David, the boy who would be king, helps us to understand more clearly Jesus, Bethlehem's greatest son, the baby who is the very God who ordered creation for His own glory. Jesus: The Anointed One, who knew human hearts and bore one in Himself in order to save human lives from the tyranny of sin and death.