The priesthood had failed; Samuel was old, and his sons "walked not in his ways", so the people agitated for a "king like all the nations" (1 Sam 8.1-5). When leadership is weak the Lords people become restless and rebellious. Saul, the man after the flesh, was the peoples choice. Though at first imposing and impressive, he proved to be an abysmal disappointment. He scorned counsel and became obsessed with power. He could not tolerate any who threatened his position. His jealousy of David led to malice, murder, madness, and misery. He admitted, "I have played the fool" (1 Sam 26.21). He died ignominiously and ingloriously! He was rejected for his self-will and self-pride (1 Chr 10.13; Hosea 13.11). What a contrast is Sauls successor. The Spirit of God draws a thumbnail sketch of David as he is introduced in Holy Scripture. This is Gods man!
God had His man already sought and selected, "a man after my own heart" (1 Sam 13.14); the heart, not the mind, is the measure of a man. What divine delight is expressed in the words "I have found David" (Ps 89.20; Acts 13.22). Here was one young man whose heart was in touch with the heart of God and possessed potential for leadership: humbleness, meekness, tenderness, and kindness. These virtues remind us of the "man approved of God" (Acts 2.22), the ideal, impeccable man, "the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2.5). David later responded to Goliaths challenge, "Give me a man" (1 Sam 17.10), and to Sauls demand, "Provide me now a man" (1 Sam 16.17). He slew the one and served the other, he became a saviour and a servant. Saul must move over to "Give this man place" (Lk 14.9).
God says, "I have provided me a king" (1 Sam 16.1); so different from the peoples demand to "make us a king" (1 Sam 8.5). David was the son of Jesse, a descendant of Boaz, of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49.10), and he was from Bethlehem (Micah 5.2). David was destined for the throne of Israel, and became the true precursor of the Christ, the Son of David (Mt 1.1). Before David reigned he served by keeping his "fathers sheep" (1 Sam 17.15); what lessons he learned enabling him to guide the flock of God (Ps 78.72). He suffered much, but suffering and service are both necessary to shepherd Gods flock. We desperately need leaders today of Davids ilk with shepherd hearts, men who are free from hypocrisy, legality, and partiality, who truly love and care for the saints. David tended sheep before shepherding Gods people; Joseph managed Potiphars house before directing Egypts economy; Paul made tents before building churches; Peter caught fish before fishing for men. We all need to be prepared by God for His service.
David had no extraordinary physical features like Saul, but he was facially attractive with bronzed complexion and beautiful eyes (v.12, margin) reflecting innocence and integrity - God looks upon the heart. He was the youngest in the family and was disdained by them; "he keepeth the sheep" (v.11). Samuel, sensing the occasion excitedly, said, "We will not sit down till he come hither". Samuel was immediately impressed by the demeanour of David and the Lord said, "This is he" (v.12); so Samuel "anointed him in the midst of his brethren and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David" (meaning beloved) (v.13). The Baptist similarly introduced the Lord Jesus ("This is he", Jn 1.30), the Spirit came upon Him and the Father declared, "This is my beloved Son".
An unnamed servant in response to Sauls demand, "Provide me now a man", recommends David (vv.17-18). He commends David, personally, socially, morally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. How do others see us? David was different and distinct, possessing qualities of leadership. This brought the unknown David out of seclusion - "A mans gift maketh room for him" (Prov 18.16). Providentially God arranged the circumstances and exalted him from the pastures to the Palace, from the cote to the Court, and David was as happy there as in the field. Do we depend on divine providence in our circumstances?
He was the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam 23). He became Sauls personal attendant and court musician. David soothed and refreshed troubled hearts. What a delightful ministry! The Lord Jesus ministered to sad and sorrowful hearts (Jn 14.1,27). The Lord also leads the praises of His people (Ps 22.22). Let us engage in this service to soothe and refresh the saints like Onesiphorus and the house of Stephanas (2 Tim 1.16; 1 Cor 16.17-18).