So far, we have seen that the Lord’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16 is presented as an act of God’s choosing, and that his choosing is counter-intuitive to us, for “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (16:7)” This reiterates what the Lord, through Samuel, had spoken to Saul in judgment of his kingship: “now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart” (13:14). But what is the anointing of the Lord? Firstly, it is a ritual act of inauguration into three typical offices in ancient Israel: prophet (1 Kings 19:6); priest (Exodus 40:15); and king (1 Samuel 9:16). The rite made use of oil, as we see with Samuel’s horn of oil, and signified the Lord setting apart an individual for divine service: a divine appointment for a special role. This is why even objects could be anointed with oil, signifying their consecration for use in religious service (Exodus 30:26).
It is important for us to see that the power was not in the oil itself, but in the choosing and setting apart by God. For individuals, the anointing of oil was an outward rite to signify an inward reality of divine appointment, empowerment, and protection. The implication of David’s anointing is immediately evident: “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. (16:13)” Though we know from David’s story he was not a perfect king, the New Testament confirms that he was, indeed, a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). In contrast to Saul, “now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (16:14)”, David’s life was marked by God’s presence. Saul’s own court said of David, “the Lord is with him (16:18)”, and throughout his life this was a repeated observation (see 1 Samuel 18:12,14,28; 2 Samuel 5:10; 2 Samuel 7:3,9).
Something to Apply:
Just in case you are thinking, “well that is all well and good for God’s favourites like David, but what about a regular Joe (or Jill) like me?” We will close the week tomorrow with some encouraging thoughts on anointing from a Christian perspective, but in the meantime please note that David wasn’t anyone special. His father’s household was not noteworthy or wealthy; his lineage questionable; his stature (certainly when chosen as a boy) unimpressive. Even his own family had little regard for him. He had one thing going for him – a heart for God! And that is something, as Christians, we can all cultivate.