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Samuel Anoints David as King

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long do you intend to mourn for Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel.[a] Fill your horn with olive oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem, for I have selected a king for myself from among his sons.”[b]

Samuel replied, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!” But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you[c] and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you should do. You will anoint for me the one I point out[d] to you.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him.[e] When he arrived in Bethlehem, the elders of the city were afraid to meet him. They[f] said, “Do you come in peace?” He replied, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” So he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel[g] noticed[h] Eliab and said to himself,[i] “Surely, here before the Lord stands his chosen king.”[j] But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by[k] his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way people do.[l] People look on the outward appearance,[m] but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel.[n] But Samuel[o] said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Then Jesse presented[p] Shammah. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel.[q] But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Is that all the young men?” Jesse[r] replied, “There is still the youngest one, but he’s taking care of the flock.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we cannot turn our attention to other things until he comes here.”

12 So Jesse had him brought in.[s] Now he was ruddy, with attractive eyes and a handsome appearance. The Lord said, “Go and anoint him. This is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn full of olive oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day onward. Then Samuel got up and went to Ramah.

David Appears before Saul

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit[t] from the Lord tormented him. 15 Then Saul’s servants said to him, “Look, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord instruct his servants who are here before you to look for a man who knows how to play the lyre. Then whenever the evil spirit from God comes upon you, he can play the lyre[u] and you will feel better.”[v] 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Find[w] me a man who plays well and bring him to me.” 18 One of his attendants replied,[x] “I have seen a son of Jesse in Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave warrior[y] and is articulate[z] and handsome,[aa] for the Lord is with him.”

19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is out with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a container of wine, and a young goat[ab] and sent them to Saul with[ac] his son David. 21 David came to Saul and stood before him. Saul liked him a great deal,[ad] and he became his armor-bearer. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse saying, “Let David be my servant, for I am very pleased with him.”[ae]

23 So whenever the spirit from God would come upon Saul, David would take his lyre and play it. This would bring relief to Saul and make him feel better. Then the evil spirit would leave him alone.[af]


  1. 1 Samuel 16:1 tc The Lucianic recension of the Old Greek translation includes the following words: “And the Lord said to Samuel.”
  2. 1 Samuel 16:1 tn Heb “for I have seen among his sons for me a king.”
  3. 1 Samuel 16:2 tn Heb “in your hand.”
  4. 1 Samuel 16:3 tn Heb “say”; KJV, NRSV “name”; NIV “indicate.”
  5. 1 Samuel 16:4 tn Heb “said.”
  6. 1 Samuel 16:4 tc In the MT the verb is singular (“he said”), but the translation follows many medieval Hebrew mss and ancient versions in reading the plural (“they said”).
  7. 1 Samuel 16:6 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Samuel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  8. 1 Samuel 16:6 tn Heb “saw.”
  9. 1 Samuel 16:6 tn Heb “said”; the words “to himself” are implied, given the secrecy surrounding Samuel’s mission to Bethlehem (v. 2).
  10. 1 Samuel 16:6 tn Heb “his anointed one.”
  11. 1 Samuel 16:7 tn Heb “don’t look toward.”
  12. 1 Samuel 16:7 tn Heb “for not that which the man sees.” The translation follows the LXX, which reads, “for not as man sees does God see.” The MT has suffered from homoioteleuton or homoioarcton. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 274.
  13. 1 Samuel 16:7 tn Heb “to the eyes.”
  14. 1 Samuel 16:8 tn Heb “and caused him to pass before.”
  15. 1 Samuel 16:8 tn Heb “he” (also in v. 9); the referent (Samuel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  16. 1 Samuel 16:9 tn Heb “caused to pass by.”
  17. 1 Samuel 16:10 tn Heb “caused seven of his sons to pass before Samuel.” This could be taken as referring to seven sons in addition to the three mentioned before this, but 1 Sam 17:12 says Jesse had eight sons, not eleven. 1 Chr 2:13-15 lists only seven sons, including David. However, 1 Chr 27:18 mentions an additional son, named Elihu.
  18. 1 Samuel 16:11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jesse) has been specified in the translation both here and in v. 12 for clarity.
  19. 1 Samuel 16:12 tn Heb “and he sent and brought him.”
  20. 1 Samuel 16:14 tn Or “an injurious spirit”; cf. NLT “a tormenting spirit.” The phrase need not refer to an evil, demonic spirit. The Hebrew word translated “evil” may refer to the character of the spirit or to its effect upon Saul. If the latter, another translation option might be “a mischief-making spirit.”
  21. 1 Samuel 16:16 tn Heb “and he will play with his hand.”
  22. 1 Samuel 16:16 tn Heb “and it will be better for you.”
  23. 1 Samuel 16:17 tn Heb “see.”
  24. 1 Samuel 16:18 tn Heb “answered and said.”
  25. 1 Samuel 16:18 tn Heb “mighty man of valor and a man of war.”
  26. 1 Samuel 16:18 tn Heb “discerning of word.”
  27. 1 Samuel 16:18 tn Heb “a man of form.”
  28. 1 Samuel 16:20 tn Heb “a kid of the goats.”
  29. 1 Samuel 16:20 tn Heb “by the hand of.”
  30. 1 Samuel 16:21 tn Heb “he loved him.”
  31. 1 Samuel 16:22 tn Heb “Let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my eyes.”
  32. 1 Samuel 16:23 tn Heb “would turn aside from upon him.”