1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.


1 SAMUEL 15:1-2, 7-9, NIrV

1 Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over his people Israel. So listen now to a message from him. 2 The Lord who rules over all says, ‘I will punish the Amalekites because of what they did to Israel. As the Israelites came up from Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them.


7 Saul attacked the Amalekites. He struck them down all the way from Havilah to Shur. Shur was near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 Saul captured Agag, the king of the Amalekites. But he and his men totally destroyed with their swords all Agag’s people. 9 So Saul and the army spared Agag. They spared the best of the sheep and cattle. They spared the fat calves and lambs. They spared everything that was valuable. They weren’t willing to completely destroy any of those things. But they totally destroyed everything that was worthless and weak.


Hundreds of years before the days of King Saul, God led his people out of slavery in the land of Egypt. As they escaped, they were ambushed by a group called the Amalekites. So God ordered Saul to destroy them. During the battle, Saul's men kicked the behinds of the Amalekites, capturing their king and collecting their animals. The battle looked like an absolute success, but it was actually a huge failure! God had given Saul a special order: “Destroy everything and keep nothing!” Saul may have won a complete victory on the battlefield, but he was a complete failure at following God’s command.

+ Why did God want to punish the Amalekites? (vs. 2)

+ What did Saul and his men fail to destroy during the battle? (vs. 9)


1 SAMUEL 15:13-21, NIrV

13 When Samuel got there, Saul said, “May the Lord bless you. I’ve done what he directed me to do.”

14 But Samuel said, “Then why do I hear the baaing of sheep? Why do I hear the mooing of cattle?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites. They spared the best of the sheep and cattle. They did it to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. But we totally destroyed everything else.”

16 “That’s enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “There was a time when you didn’t think you were important. But you became the leader of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you to be king over Israel. 18 He sent you to do something for him. He said, ‘Go and completely destroy the Amalekites. Go and destroy those evil people. Fight against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why didn’t you obey the Lord? Why did you keep for yourselves what you had taken from your enemies? Why did you do what is evil in the sight of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went to do what he sent me to do. I completely destroyed the Amalekites. I brought back Agag, their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from what had been taken from our enemies. They took the best of what had been set apart to God. They wanted to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”


The moment Samuel heard the baa-ing of sheep and the moo-ing of oxen after the battle, he knew Saul had ignored God's command to destroy all of the Amalekite animals. So Samuel went to Saul and delivered a question from God: "Why didn't you do what I asked?" In his answer, Saul did something you should never do: he acted like he knew better than God! "The reason I kept the animals," the foolish king explained, "was to sacrifice them to God as a gift." But had God asked Saul for a gift? Not at all! God didn’t want an offering of oxen. He wanted Israel’s king to obey his orders!

+ What did Saul do that disobeyed God’s command? (vs. 18-19)

+ What reason did Saul give for disobeying God’s order and keeping the animals? (vs. 21)


1 SAMUEL 15:22, NIrV

22 But Samuel replied, 

“What pleases the Lord more?

    Burnt offerings and sacrifices, or obeying the Lord?

It is better to obey than to offer a sacrifice.

    It is better to do what he says than to offer the fat of rams.


In Saul's time, the people burned animals as a sacrifice to God. Now, God certainly did not need these sacrifices, but they were pleasing to him. However, something else pleased God even more: when his people obeyed his word! Saul wanted to offer a sacrifice to God. But to do that, the king had disobeyed God’s order to completely wipe out the wicked Amalekites! Samuel let the foolish king know, "To obey God is better than sacrifice." Ignoring God’s instructions in order to offer a sacrifice to him didn’t make God happy. In fact, it had the complete opposite result – God was angry!

+ What does God say is better: obeying him or offering sacrifices to him? (vs. 22)

+ What did Saul think was more important: obeying God’s word or offering sacrifices?


1 SAMUEL 15:23-28, NIRV

23 Refusing to obey the Lord is as sinful as using evil magic.

    Being proud is as evil as worshiping statues of gods.

You have refused to do what the Lord told you to do.

    So he has refused to have you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I’ve broken the Lord’s command. I haven’t done what you directed me to do. I was afraid of the men. So I did what they said I should do. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin. Come back into town with me so I can worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I won’t go back with you. You have refused to do what the Lord told you to do. So he has refused to have you as king over Israel!”

27 Samuel turned to leave. But Saul grabbed the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today. He has given it to one of your neighbors. He has given it to someone better than you.


Saul had ignored God's command to destroy the Amalekites. Because of this, Samuel had bad news for Israel’s first king: God was going to rip Saul's kingdom away from his hands! The Lord didn't want his people to be led by a king who wouldn't listen to his commands. After speaking with Saul, Samuel tried to leave. But Saul grabbed his robe and held on for dear life. The king’s grip was so tight, Samuel's robe actually ripped! It was a sad picture of what would happen to Saul. Just as Saul had torn away a piece from Samuel's robe, God would rip the kingdom of Israel away from Saul's control.

+ Why did Samuel say that God rejected Saul as king? (vs. 23) 

+ Saul ripped Samuel’s robe. What was that a perfect picture of? (vs. 28)


1 SAMUEL 16:1-5, NIRV

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you be filled with sorrow because of Saul? I have refused to have him as king over Israel. Fill your animal horn with olive oil and go on your way. I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? Suppose Saul hears about it. Then he’ll kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a young cow with you. Tell the elders of Bethlehem, ‘I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice. Then I will show you what to do. You must anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. He arrived at Bethlehem. The elders of the town met him. They were trembling with fear. They asked, “Have you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, I’ve come in peace. I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Set yourselves apart to him and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he set Jesse and his sons apart to the Lord. He invited them to the sacrifice.


Saddened by Saul's sin, I'm certain Samuel felt like simply sitting still. But the old priest didn’t have any time to rest on his old behind and mope his days away. God had an important job for him to do: find a king to take Saul's place! It would be a dangerous job. If sinful Saul heard that Samuel was searching for his replacement, he’d want old Sam killed! But this dangerous job would also be a simple job. God was going to tell Samuel exactly where to go and what to do every step of the way. And the first stop on Samuel’s journey was the town of Bethlehem, home of a man named Jesse.

+ God sent Samuel to Bethlehem. Can you think of anyone else born there? (see Luke 2)

+ What did Samuel tell the people of Bethlehem that he came to do? (vs. 5)


1 SAMUEL 16:6-13, NIRV

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab. He thought, “This has to be the one the Lord wants me to anoint for him.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider how handsome or tall he is. I have not chosen him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outside of a person. But the Lord looks at what is in the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called for Abinadab. He had him walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” 9 Then Jesse had Shammah walk by. But Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said to him, “The Lord hasn’t chosen any of them.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these the only sons you have?”

“No,” Jesse answered. “My youngest son is taking care of the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 So Jesse sent for his son and had him brought in. He looked very healthy. He had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Get up and anoint him. This is the one.”

13 So Samuel got the animal horn that was filled with olive oil. He anointed David in front of his brothers. From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on David. Samuel went back to Ramah.


To find a king to replace Saul, God sent Samuel to the home of a man named Jesse. There, Samuel would find a man to anoint to be the next king of Israel. If you remember, to “anoint” means to choose someone for a special job. In the Bible, oil was usually poured over the head of the anointed person to show they’d been selected.

But who was Samuel supposed to anoint as king? Jesse had lots of sons. What if Samuel anointed the wrong one? No worries! Before the selection started, God spoke to the old priest: “Don’t pay attention to what he looks like or how tall he is.” Instead, God said that he would look where no human being could: inside a person’s heart.

And so Jesse brought his boys to stand in front of Samuel, one at a time. They probably arrived in order from oldest to youngest. When Eliab stepped forward, God let Samuel know, “He’s not the one.” The same thing happened with brothers #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7! After seven no's, it looked like Jesse had run out of boys to choose from!

But there was one son left. David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. While his older brothers stood before Samuel, he was busy babysitting sheep. Jesse had probably thought, “He’s the baby of the family. There’s no way God would pick him to be king!” But Samuel refused to take a seat until the boy was brought before him. And the moment Samuel saw the kid, God made it clear, “Anoint him – he’s the one!” And the moment Samuel anointed David, God’s powerful Spirit came to live inside the kid.

It didn’t matter what Israel’s new king looked like or how tall he stood or even how old he was. What mattered the most was something you couldn’t see: a heart that believed God’s promises, and wanted to obey God’s commands. David didn’t look special on the outside, but on the inside, he had a heart that trusted in God.

Jesus was one of King David’s great-great grandsons. Like David, Jesus the Messiah (anointed savior) didn’t look too special on the outside. The prophet Isaiah wrote about what the Messiah, Jesus, would be like when he came. Isaiah 53:2 tells us that Jesus didn’t look especially handsome, king-like, or special in any way. If you saw him walking down the street, you might not even notice he was there!

But as ordinary as Jesus looked on the outside, he was definitely extra-ordinary on the inside. Jesus was God’s Son – totally God and totally a man at the same time! And he had a heart that loved God, believed God’s promises, and obeyed God’s law perfectly every second of every day for his entire life!    

+ Where was David when all of Jesse’s other sons stood before Samuel? (vs. 11)

+ Read Isaiah 53:2. What does it teach us about what Jesus looked like on the outside?

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