1 Samuel

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

1 Samuel 16 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on 1 Samuel 16 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

(16:10-11) This passage says that Jesse had eight sons, but 1 Chr.2:13-15 says he had only seven. How many sons did Jesse have?

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

After God rejects Saul for refusing to kill indiscriminately, he sends Samuel to find another king. David is chosen and anointed by Samuel, and "the spirit of the Lord came upon him from that day forward."

14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

(16:14-16, 23) The evil spirit from the Lord
"But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul [since he was not murderous enough for God], and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." But if God is good, then how could he have an evil spirit?
The phrase "from the Lord" should be read as "sent by the Lord". It was God's just punishment for Saul's disobedience. And it was not something unexpected. God had promised that the curse of madness would come upon the Israelites it they would not hearken to his voice, Deut. 28:28:

The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.

This is as opposed to the peace of God, which passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7) promised to those who walk in God's ways.

15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.

18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

20 And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.

21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.

(16:21-22) From these verses it is clear that Saul knows David well. Yet later, in the next chapter (17:55-58), Saul can't even recognize him.
When did Saul meet David?
Isn't it strange to appoint a musician as your armour bearer? The man might be able to play beautiful music, but let him carry your weapons is quite a different responsibility. Therefore, I believe what is told here, is what has happened after the events in the next chapter have been unfolded.
When David started his life at Saul's court as musician, he wasn't near Saul at as we can see in chapter 19:10. He was at a distance large enough that Saul had to use a spear to kill him. He wasn't within sword distance. And you don't want your new court musician to overhear the state secrets you are discussing. Add to this the mental state Saul was in when David played, and this explains why Saul didn't recognize David in chapter 17:55.
When this verse tells us that David became his armourbearer, it tells us what happened after David had become musician and what happened after the events had unfolded that are told in the next chapter. There David proved himself worthy of bearing Saul's armour.
So goal of this verse is not to tell just what happened when David came to court, but it gives a very brief summary of his career, musician and armourbearer, before going into the details. The next verses tell about his harp playing, and the verses after that how he became known to Saul and became his armourbearer.

22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.

Here starts the story of David's career at Saul's court that ends in chapter 18:2.

23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

David plays his harp and makes Saul's "evil spirit from the Lord" go away.