The Spirit of the Lord Comes Upon David in Power (1 Samuel 16)
God Provides for David’s Education
King Saul seeks the relief of music because “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1 Samuel 16:14). One of his servants recommends David primarily because he “knows how to play the lyre” (1 Samuel 16:18).
David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. (1 Samuel 16:21-23)
And so, God’s education of David is moved from the pastures to the king’s court. At this point David is nothing more to King Saul than a servant who fulfills a small but significant role. But from David’s perspective the experience is absolutely essential as God prepares him to assume eventual kingship over Israel.
An active and curious mind such as David’s would have soaked up the behaviors, relationships and politics of the court. He would also have observed how power was wielded and how subjects sought to influence that wielding. And, critically, he would have been able to observe King Saul “up close and personal.” Thus, Saul’s strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies would have been visible.
Clearly, God is providentially intervening on behalf of David to prepare him for the deadly challenges that lie ahead. However, significant space is being left for the application of David’s own human capabilities. The implications concerning God’s acts and our responsibilities will thus be a crucial focus as David’s story unfolds.