1 Samuel 16: David Anointed
Bethlehem: do you remember the name? What did shepherds once find when they came from the fields to Bethlehem? and wise men when they came a long journey from the East? They called it David's city where the Lord was born, for long before it had been David's home. David had tended sheep on these same hills. He led them about to good pasture and to water, and if they were far from home he took them to some sheltered place at night. He had his staff and sling and protected them from harm, for there were lions and bears and other wild animals in that country. David's father was named Jesse, and there were seven other brothers. David was the youngest.
There came one day to Bethlehem an old man driving a heifer for a sacrifice and feast to the Lord. It was Samuel, for the Lord had sent him to anoint another king in place of Saul. He called Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice. David's brothers came, tall, handsome men, and Samuel looked for some sign from the Lord to show him which one should be king, but it was no one of these. Were these all? No, David had been forgotten; he was in the field with the sheep. They sent for him and he came, young and ruddy, and the Lord said to Samuel, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he." So Samuel poured oil on David's head to anoint him king, as he had done before to Saul. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David.
But the Spirit of the Lord was not now with Saul, and at times he was greatly troubled. They looked for someone to play for Saul on the harp, perhaps singing as he played. (Have you seen a harp and heard it played?) David was found and came, and when he played Saul was refreshed and well. Listen and we will read the story.
Saul was to be king no longer. Why? Who had anointed Saul? The same one was now to anoint another king. You know who it was to be, but he did not yet know. We follow with Samuel to Bethlehem—yes, the same Bethlehem where the Lord afterward was born, and we stand by while the sons of Jesse pass before him; for he has called them to a sacrifice and feast and is looking for a sign from the Lord to tell him which is the one chosen to be king. Not this one, though he is tall and handsome, "for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Nor this; nor any other of the seven older sons of Jesse. Saul had been tall and handsome, but he had disobeyed. There was one more, the youngest. The feast waited while David was called from the sheep in the field. The name David means "beloved." He was "ruddy" (with reddish hair and light skin), "of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to." He was the one whom the Lord had chosen, and Samuel anointed him with olive-oil from his flask made of a hollow horn.
Do you remember what was said about Saul at his anointing? That the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, and that God gave him another heart. (1 Sam. 10 6, 9) Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, and an evil spirit was with Saul. He was gloomy and suspicious. People in Saul's day thought that influences both good and bad were from God. Read what was done to bring Saul relief. Perhaps David sang as he played. He afterward sang many songs and he was called "the sweet psalmist of Israel." They were not his songs, but songs that the Lord gave him to sing. David himself said, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." (2 Sam. 23:1-2) Do you know whether any of the songs that David sang are preserved in our Book of Psalms? Open to the Psalms and read in many of the headings, "A Psalm of David." Often when wrong thoughts and feelings trouble us and make us unhappy, one of these Psalms will help us, if we read it or say it ourselves.
1. Who was anointed king in place of Saul?
2. Whose son was he? Where did he live? What was he doing when he was called?
3. Tell me what you can about the life of a shepherd in the land of Palestine.
4. How did David help Saul? What songs of David have we that bring us comfort?
Will someone read and present to the class the description of Bethlehem and its simple life that is given in the book of Ruth? Does the story of Ruth come before or after the time of David? Find the answer in Matt. 1:5-6. Is the book of Ruth one of the books of the Divine Word? Find the answer in A. 10325.
Let someone remind us what step of spiritual development is represented by the anointing of a king. What in particular is represented by the first king, Saul? Can you go on to show what is represented by the anointing of David? The coming into power of a spiritual rationality, a spiritual understanding and grasp of the Lord's truth. This spiritual rationality is stronger than the first natural reason represented by Saul; it trusts in the Lord and not in self; it has an interior perception and is not misled by appearances; it is inspired by love and is joined with love in the doing of good uses. The gentler character of this spiritual rationality is suggested by the fact that David was a shepherd, and was anointed king while keeping the sheep, Saul while he was looking for the asses. (E. 205)
"The spiritual of the celestial," "The truth of good," "The affection of truth from good," are phrases which Swedenborg uses in explaining the meaning of Bethlehem. They are nearly related to the meaning of Benjamin who was born near Bethlehem, and of David who was called from the sheep at Bethlehem and anointed king. We shall think more about Bethlehem when we study the story of the Lord's birth. (A. 4592, 4594, 6247; E. 449)
Many of the Psalms bid us to sing unto the Lord and to praise Him with musical instruments. (Ps. 149; 150) What does it mean spiritually? Spiritually we praise the Lord with music when we love Him and confess Him, whether our confession is expressed in song or in words or in useful deeds. There are two elements in expression by the voice: the tone and the articulation; the vowel sounds, which are most full of affection, and the consonant sounds, which express particulars of thought. There is the same difference between a wind instrument, like the trumpet, and a stringed instrument, like the harp. One represents praise and confession of the Lord more purely of affection, the other with more intelligent understanding. The music of David's harp represents confession which is intelligent from a deep spiritual understanding. There is power in such confession to keep evil spirits away. (R. 276; E. 323)
We have thought of all the leaders of Israel whom we have studied as being types of the Lord. (A. 1409) This representative character is perhaps plainest of all in the case of David. In the Gospels, the Lord is called the Son of David and is said to inherit the throne of David. In the Revelation, we read, "I Jesus . . . am the root and the offspring of David." When David is called a man after God's own heart we think not of the man David, but of the Lord whom he represented. The professions of innocence in David's Psalms could be true only of the Lord. Prophets who lived long after the time of David still promised the coming of David to be a prince forever. (Ezek. 24:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos. 3:5)
Both Saul and David represent the rule of Divine truth in the Lord as it was grasped by His developing rationality: Saul the first rational power, David the rational power made perfect. As we read of David's wars, they describe to us the Lord's conflicts with evil in the power of the Divine truth. As we read David's Psalms of penitence and of triumph, they tell us of the Lord's states of trial and of glorification. A new and wonderful interest is disclosed in the Old-Testament history and in the Psalms by this one thought, that David is a type of the Lord. (A. 1888; E. 205; L. 43; T. 171 end)
This thought, that David represents the Lord, gives wonderful interest to the Psalms of David. They are in their deepest meaning expressions of the Lord's own heart in times of trial and of victory. The Lord on the resurrection day spoke to the apostles of things written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Him. (Luke 24:44) Swedenborg's Brief Exposition of the Internal Sense o f the Psalms begins with the statement, "It is to be observed that since by David is understood the Lord, therefore where David speaks in the Psalms, there in the spiritual sense the Lord is signified." And in the interpretation which follows, most of the Psalms are explained as teaching of the Lord. "Concerning the Lord when in great temptations"; "Concerning the glorification of the Lord's Human"; "Concerning the Lord's victory over the hells"; etc. It is to keep us mindful of this relation of the Psalms to the Lord, that in our Church service we follow the reading of the Psalms with the Doxology, "To Jesus Christ the Lord be glory and dominion." (E. 205; L. 43, 44)