Lesson 1 ... How to Be Used by God

(1 Samuel 16:1-13)

There is no better example of how to win God’s applause than the life of David. In spite of his sins, David received God’s applause. More than fifty chapters in the Old Testament are used to record his life (1 Sam. 16-31; 2 Sam. 1-24; & 1 Chron. 10-29). Also, there are more than fifty references to David in the New Testament—the third most of any Old Testament figure, following Abraham and Moses.

David was the son of Jesse and the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz. He was a shepherd, musician, writer, warrior, and king. He wrote the most famous collection of words on this planet—the Twenty-third Psalm. Referring to 1 Samuel 13:14, the apostle Paul states what God says about David—something not said about anyone else in the Bible. What is it (Acts 13:22d)?


The Bible records that David did what was right in the sight of the Lord all his life (1 Kings 15:5a-b). In his life, we find many examples to follow, but also at least one to avoid. What is the one exception (1 Kings 15:5c)?


This is great news because it reveals God judges us in the context of our entire lives. God recognizes when a person’s sin is an exception in a life otherwise dedicated to Him. David’s life is also a wonderful example that our God is the God of forgiveness and restoration. He is the wonderful God of the second chance (Jonah 3:1).

By 1040 b.c., the time of David’s birth, Israel had turned its back on Jehovah God. There had been a temporary revival under her first king, Saul. Then, Saul refused to listen to Samuel, Israel’s high priest and the last of the judges. Therefore, what does 1 Samuel 15:35c record?


In 1 Samuel 16, we first meet David, God’s choice for the new king of Israel. Through Samuel and David, we find three requirements for being used by God. First is...

Obey Him Immediately (16:1-4a)

After the Lord rejects Saul as king, He tells Samuel to go to Bethlehem and find a man named Jesse, because He has selected one of his sons to be anointed as the new king. Since Samuel is afraid Saul will kill him if he finds out, God directs Samuel to arrange a sacrifice as the reason for visiting Jesse’s home.

God doesn’t tell Samuel which of Jesse’s sons He has chosen as king. Instead, He tells Samuel to invite Jesse to the sacrifice, where He will reveal to him which of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the new king. Samuel immediately goes to Bethlehem to do as God commands (16:1-4a).

To be used by God, as Samuel was, obey God immediately and don’t wait for all the details. God reveals His will one step at a time. Get moving and then God will direct you. You can’t steer a car if it isn’t moving, and you can’t find God’s will unless you are moving, so He can steer you in the right direction. For example, what does Hebrews 11:8b record about Abraham?


Samuel and Abraham are wonderful examples of this truth: “The way to see far ahead in the will of God is to go ahead as far as you can see.” To be used by God, obey Him immediately and...

Listen for His Voice Constantly (16:4b-7)

When Samuel arrives, the elders of Bethlehem come trembling to meet him. It is a great shock to have a high priest of Israel visit a small town like Bethlehem. The elders are trembling because they think Samuel may be there to mete out judgment for some sin. So, they ask him, Comest thou peaceably? Samuel informs them he has come in peace to make a sacrifice unto the Lord and personally invites Jesse and his sons (16:4b-5).

When Jesse’s sons arrive, Samuel sees Eliab (E´-lee-ab-), Jesse’s oldest son. Then, what does Samuel think to himself (16:6c)?


Eliab is apparently an impressive man like Saul—tall and handsome. So, Samuel is ready to anoint Eliab as king, but God tells him (perhaps through a spiritual impression) not to judge by appearance or height because He has rejected Eliab. Then, what does God say (16:7d-f)?


Never has a culture needed to hear that statement more than our appearance-consumed and obsessed generation. Many Americans are “up to their eyeballs” in debt for appearance sake. Also, many people who come to Sunday worship services are more concerned with their outward appearances than the condition of their hearts. However, God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance.

Had Samuel not been constantly listening to God’s voice, he would have anointed the wrong person as king of Israel. God speaks to us in many ways—first and foremost through His written Word, the Bible. But God also speaks through Christian friends, spiritual impressions, worship services, and other ways as well.

To be used by God, obey Him immediately, listen for His voice constantly, and...

Wait for Him Faithfully (16:8-13)

Samuel looks at Eliab and at Jesse’s six other sons one by one, but God restrains him from anointing any of them. In disappointment, Samuel tells Jesse the Lord hasn’t chosen any of them. He then asks Jesse if these are all of his sons. Jesse replies that his youngest son is tending sheep. David, the youngest son, may have been excluded because he was only sixteen, and therefore, too young for military service, a requirement for Israel’s king (1 Sam. 8:20). However, Samuel tells Jesse to send for him (16:8-11).

When David arrives, he’s brought to Samuel. David is ruddy, which usually refers to red hair and healthy fair skin with a reddish glow, in contrast to the generally dark complexions of the Middle East. David also has a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to (16:12a-c). As soon as Samuel sees David, what does the Lord tell him (16:12d)?


As David’s brothers and father watch, Samuel anoints him (16:13a-b). No doubt Jesse and his other sons stand spellbound as the high priest of Jehovah anoints David the future king of Israel. However, the Lord allows Saul to remain king until his death. Therefore, David will not be publicly anointed for several years—first as king over Judah (2 Sam. 2:4), and then, at age thirty, over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:3-4).

Kings and priests were anointed to signify they were the Lord’s choice and to equip them for particular tasks. All believers are still anointed today, but not with oil. What does 1 John 2:27a declare?


Of course, this refers to the Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer (Rom. 8:9). The word translated anointing (chrisma, chris´-ma-) is the word from which we get our word “charisma.” It refers to a special endowment for religious purposes.

It is no accident the name of God’s Son is Jesus Christ. Jesus is His given name and Christ is His title. The word Christ means “the anointed one,” which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title “Messiah.”

After Samuel anoints David, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon David from that day on (16:13c). In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God frequently came upon certain leaders to empower them for a particular task. Since David was to be king until his death, the Holy Spirit continued to be with Him (Psa. 51:11; Ezek. 36:27). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers in general. However, in the New Testament, what does 1 Corinthians 6:19a-b declare?


Even though David was chosen by God to replace Saul as king, he had to wait about fourteen years to take the throne. Everyone God uses has to wait. Noah waited 120 years while building the ark. Moses waited forty years while tending sheep in the wilderness of Midian. As slaves in Egypt, the Israelites waited 400 years for deliverance. David’s willingness to wait is one thing that enabled him to be greatly used by God and to win His applause. That’s why David later writes a principle that we must follow to be used by God. It is found in Psalm 27:14. What is it?


To experience a “journey into God’s applause” and be used by Him, obey Him immediately, listen for His voice constantly, and wait for Him faithfully.