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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[1 Kings 16]

SAMUEL loved Saul, and mourned for him because the Lord had rejected him. One day the Lord said to Samuel: “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul whom I have rejected? Fill thy horn with oil, and come that I may send thee to Isai, the Bethlehemite; for I have provided me a king among his sons.”

So Samuel went to Bethlehem, and took with him a victim, and called Isai and his sons to partake of the sacrifice. Now when Eliab, the eldest son, had come forward, who was of a high stature, the Lord said to Samuel: “Look not on his countenance; for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord seeth the heart.”

Isai then called in his other sons, one by one, six in number. When Samuel had seen them all, he said: “The Lord has not chosen any of these. Are these all thy sons?” Isai replied: “There remaineth yet a young one who keepeth the sheep.” Samuel hastened to answer: “Send and fetch him, for we will not sit down till he come hither.”

Now when David came in, he was beautiful to behold, and of a comely face; and the Lord said: “Arise, and anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel, taking the horn of oil, anointed him in the midst of his brethren. Immediately the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, and remained with him.

But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit troubled him. Wherefore the servants of Saul said to him: “Let our lord give orders, and we will seek out a man skilful in playing on the harp, that when the evil spirit is upon thee he may play with his hand, and thou mayest bear it more easily.”

When the servants saw that this counsel was pleasing in the eyes of Saul, one of them added: “Behold, I have seen the son of Isai, a skilful player, and a man fit for war, and prudent in his words, and a comely person.” Thereupon David was sent for, and Saul made him his armour-bearer. And whenever the evil spirit was upon Saul, David took his harp and played with his hand, and Saul was refreshed and better, for the evil spirit departed from him.

The Omniscience of God. He knows the mind and feelings of man. He knew David better than his own father knew him.

The Wisdom of God. It was by the guidance of Divine Providence that, on account of his musical talents, David was summoned to the court of the king, who naturally had no suspicion that the young shepherd was destined to be his successor. The simple youth, who was then about twenty years old, learnt at court the art of government and the duties of a king, and was thus prepared for his future position.

The Faithfulness of God. Almighty God, by choosing David of the tribe of Juda to be king, fulfilled that which He promised by the mouth of the dying Jacob, i. e. that there should be a sceptre in Juda, which should not depart from him till the Messias Himself came.

Obedience. Samuel was obedient to God, for though he was very sorry that Saul was rejected, he obeyed when commanded to anoint another king. David was obedient to his father. He did not murmur at the humble task set him by his father of guarding and feeding the flocks in the fields of Bethlehem.

The value of virtue. God rejected the proud Saul and chose the young and humble David to be his successor. Even David’s father, to whom Samuel had confided that one of his sons was chosen to be king, had not the remotest idea that David, the shepherd-boy, could be the chosen one. He had not even thought it worth while to mention his youngest son to the prophet, when he asked to see his sons. He said to himself: “God will be sure to have chosen one of my elder, fine, warlike sons.” But the eyes of God were fixed on the young, modest David, for He does not look to the appearance, but to the heart. David was pious, humble, steadfast, and pure; therefore God loved him, and chose him to be the shepherd of His people. Beauty, fine clothes, riches are nothing in the eyes of God; the only thing that is of value in His sight is a virtuous heart. He who wishes to be well-pleasing to God must strive to be virtuous.

The pious shepherd-boy. David did not waste his time while he was watching his sheep. He prayed and meditated on the attributes of God, which were revealed to his holy mind in the works of creation; and in the joy of his heart he composed and sang holy psalms and canticles. The stars of heaven, the flowers of the field, the songs of the birds, all raised his heart to God, and so he lived constantly in God’s presence, having God before his eyes and in his heart. By his holy and innocent youth this humble, though highly gifted boy was prepared to be God’s chosen instrument.

The pain of a bad conscience. Woe to the man who forsakes God, and who is too proud to do penance for his sins, and return contritely to God! For such cannot be happy either now or hereafter. We see this in the case of the God-forsaken Saul. Neither his high position nor his riches could make him happy, because he had no peace in his heart. His bad conscience gave him no rest; it drove all cheerfulness from his mind, so that he grew discontented and melancholy. “There is no peace for the wicked” (Is. 48:22). “Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil” (Rom. 2:9). Man can find true happiness in God alone, i. e. in the love of God and in doing His will.

APPLICATION. Do you like thinking about God? Do you pray and work as David did? Do you like to sing sacred canticles? The Psalms which we sing at Vespers were mostly written by David. Assist when you can at Vespers, and sing the Psalms devoutly, as David used to sing them, in honour of God. Never degrade the noble gift of music by singing bad, low songs.








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