Bible Readings for August 24th

1 Samuel 16 | Romans 14 | Lamentations 1 | Psalm 32

The introduction of David in 1 Samuel 16 is a giant leap forward in the unfolding story of the Bible, even if the story starts with a small step as Samuel travels to Bethlehem to anoint the youngest son of Jesse. Before we get to the long-term implications of David’s kingship, there are two critical issues we first must notice in this passage.

First, Yahweh implicitly contrasts the physical appearance of Saul with the physical appearance of David. Yahweh explains to Samuel that he has not selected Israel’s next king based on stature: “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” (1 Sam. 16:7). Saul’s main selling point was his tall height (1 Sam. 10:23), but David is a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). David was a handsome man (1 Sam. 16:12), but appearance was never primary for David.

Second, the Spirit of Yahweh rushed upon David (1 Sam. 16:13), just as had happened with Saul (1 Sam. 10:10). As we discussed briefly in the meditation for 1 Samuel 10, the anointing with oil symbolized the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Samuel 16:14, however, we learn that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not permanent in the old covenant: “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul.” The Holy Spirit was given to anointed office-bearers in Israel—to prophets, priests, and kings—for the sake of mediating the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit to the rest of the people, but when those office-bearers sinned against Yahweh, they could lose the Holy Spirit, as Saul does here.

Under the new covenant, these two issues remain fundamentally the same, but with an important twist. God is still looking for men and women after his own heart and he still anoints his people with his Holy Spirit. The difference, though, is that the Christ—that is, the ultimate Anointed One—has come. God has never given the Holy Spirit as a reward to good people; instead, we learn in the New Testament that God gives his Holy Spirit to sinners to transform our hearts to follow after him. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, opens our eyes to the glory of Christ, gives us faith to trust him for salvation, and undertakes the work of conforming us to the image of Jesus.

Thank God today that keeping the Holy Spirit rests on his grace and not your obedience, so that because of Jesus, you cannot lose the Holy Spirit as Saul did. Instead, ask God to continue filling you more fully with his Spirit so that you might love Jesus more through the Spirit’s permanent, indwelling ministry.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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