Personal piety is important for the people of God, and it is pictured in many different ways in the Bible. The lives of the Lord’s saints can be instructive in this regard. To get a better idea of the effects of piety we will devote the next week of studies to the life of King David using Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Life of David.
Few biblical figures are as important in the history of redemption as David, the son of Jesse. He is the model king with whom the Almighty made an everlasting covenant for the good of the whole world (2 Sam. 7; Amos 9:11–12). David is also a model of piety, writing over half of the book of Psalms, and is an example of godliness for redeemed sinners, for though he sinned greatly, he is still known as a man after God’s own heart because of his contrite repentance (2 Sam. 11:1–12:23; Ps. 51).
It was in the midst of a great national crisis that David was selected to rule over the nation of Israel. After Saul proved to be a great failure (1 Sam. 15), the Lord came to the prophet-judge Samuel and instructed him to anoint a new monarch who would replace him. At first, Samuel was afraid to follow God’s instructions because he knew that Saul would kill him if he learned there was a conspiracy to replace him (16:1–2a). This fear is not unlike what many of us feel when we realize what we are supposed to do for the Lord’s glory but know we will meet worldly opposition.
In any case, God reassured Samuel with a plan to keep secret the true purpose of his mission in Bethlehem. So he went forth to the house of Jesse (vv. 2b–5). What followed was a long process of having each of Jesse’s sons stand before Samuel one at a time so that he might discern which of the lads the Lord had chosen to be the new king. Certainly God could have just told Samuel to find the boy named David and anoint him straightaway, but it seems that He had the prophet go through the ritual to teach him and those who would hear and read this story a lesson. We often select good-looking and charismatic people for leadership, not the “least likely” candidate. But in having Samuel choose the least of Jesse’s sons to be the king, God demonstrated that the real way to choose a godly leader in the church is to look at the heart of the person under consideration. Samuel thus anointed David according to the Lord’s will, and the Holy Spirit came on the young man to prepare him for leadership (vv. 6–13).