Wondering if one can know the will of God is an age-old question. The story contained in 1 Samuel 16 gives us principles that we can observe about knowing and following God’s will.
In the chapter, God commands Samuel to travel to Bethlehem where he will anoint one of Jesse’s household as the next king over Israel. He goes but Jesse only brings out his seven older sons. After none of them are found to be the one, Samuel asks if there is anyone else left. Jesse brings his youngest son David who is out tending the sheep. God chooses David and he is anointed to succeed Saul as king of Israel. The scene then switches to the king’s palace where the Spirit of God has left Saul. In its place, an evil spirit now oppresses Saul. Only music soothes his mind and heart. The court attendants tell Saul of the young David who is valiant and a skilled musician. Saul brings David to his court to serve as his musician and armor bearer.
Here are 11 lessons we can observe from this passage.
1. It’s okay to ask questions. When God told Samuel to anoint a successor, Samuel asks about the repercussions. He did not ask out of rebellion but to have an informed obedience.
2. God often reveals the next steps, not the entire plan. God told Samuel to go to Jesse’s household. But he did not tell him who would be chosen. We need to trust God in the next step even when we don’t see the whole plan.
3. Rely on God’s character because it never changes. Knowing God’s will is about relying on God’s character because of God’s activity. Samuel was conceived by God’s grace, dedicated to serve in the Temple, called as a child, & empowered as a prophet. He had no reason to doubt what God was doing in the present because of what He had done in the past.
4. Success to us isn’t necessarily success to God. Samuel’s eldest son was the natural choice. But God tells us in verse seven that He holds to a different standard than the world.
5. The condition of your heart is more important than the contents of your resume’. We must align ourselves with God’s desires in order to know and follow His will.
6. Faithfulness in the moment is greater than our best-conceived strategies. When David was anointed, no one told him what would happen next. He was not warned of the future temptations, battles to be fought, or the patience he would need. David had no long-term plan and did not need one. He needed to be faithful in the moment of God’s call.
7. The calling of God is always accompanied by the power of God. When David was anointed, he was also filled with the Spirit. God does not call the equipped. God equips the called. It causes us to love what God loves and hate what God hates.
8. God is preparing us for assignments, relationships, roles, and moments that are better than we could ever hope for or imagine. The providence of God had prepared David for the one skill he would need to have access to Saul’s court: playing the lyre. No one could have ever guessed that to be the pathway. Faithfulness in your responsibilities today are about more than current obligations. They are refining you for the next assignment from God.
9. Knowing the will of God comes with the willingness to serve until asked to lead. David was the heir apparent to the throne but that was not the task he was given. He was first to be a musician and then an armor bearer. He was called to serve an ungodly, depressed, spiritually-oppressed, rebellious king. Later, he would be asked to lead the people.
10. God’s call will be confirmed by God’s Word. God never contradicts His Word. David had to trust that the word that came from God through the prophet Samuel could be trusted. We need to read, study, consume, and trust God’s Word.
11. Immediate obedience to God’s call is always worth the cost. There is nothing that you need more than God’s will. Hesitating because it is not exactly what you thought it will be is foolish and dangerous. Follow God’s will and find the blessing of the close journey with God.