READ MATTHEW ONE & FIRST SAMUEL SIXTEEN
verses one through thirteen
As the nation of Israel grew into a nation, they wanted a king. They, like most of us in our middle school days, wanted to be just like everyone around them. They didn’t want to stand out as God’s chosen people. They wanted to look just like the nations around them. And the nations around them had kings.
Israel had the privilege of being led by God Himself for the previous several generations. When we pick up their narrative today, Israel has followed God in a cloud of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. They have met with Him in a desert tent of meeting. They have seen Him ward off their enemies, free them from slavery, and provide food for them in the wilderness. And yet … they wanted a king.
God granted their request and gave them Saul as their king. Saul looked like a king, being tall and handsome. Today we would say that Saul looked “presidential,” how you would expect the leader of a powerful nation to look. But, Saul ultimately let them down because he had a divided heart.
We open today’s narrative with Samuel. Samuel is a prophet of Yahweh. He listens to God and speaks to the people of Israel on behalf of God.
How does God tell Samuel he will identify the man God has chosen as Israel’s next king? (verses one through five)
Samuel calls Jesse and his sons to come to a sacrifice he is preparing before the Lord. This is a solemn occasion and one any Israelite would be privileged to participate in. As a faithful Israelite, Jesse knows the sobriety of the occasion and likely has an indication that something divine is about to happen.
One by one, Jesse’s sons pass before Samuel. Samuel is watching, listening, waiting for the voice of the Lord to tell him that this man is the one – that the man in front of him will be the next king over Israel.
But it doesn’t happen. Each son passes before Samuel, and with each the answer is a resounding “no.” God has not chosen any of these sons to be king over Israel. Whom, then, has God chosen? (see verses eleven and twelve)
God has chosen David – the youngest of the bunch who is watching the sheep in the field. He seemed inconsequential enough to his father that he was not even called to the sacred sacrifice. When he arrives, we are safe to imagine him dusty, sweaty, and stinking of sheep. And this is the man God tells Samuel to anoint as the next king over His holy people.
What does this story tell us about Jesse?
As an Israelite, Jesse was likely eager for a king, too. He was likely watching what God was doing, waiting to see how He would act, and possibly even asking how and when God would provide a king. And yet, he missed it entirely. Though he was looking, he didn’t see what was right in front of him: the son who would be king.
I sympathize with Jesse. In the midst of ordinary life, surrounded by seemingly ordinary people and ordinary responsibilities, it is so very easy to miss the extraordinary things God is doing. In God’s grace, Jesse is still included in the family line of Christ. We will look at David in the days to come, but we cannot miss Jesse – an average father who overlooked the incredible call of God on his son’s life, who was included in the family tree of the Messiah. Jesse is among the ancestors of Jesus Christ.
Why do you think Jesse is included in the lineage of Christ? Pull out your printable and write your notes in Jesse’s spot on the family tree of Jesus.
PRAY & REFLECT
In what ways in the ordinariness of your life might you overlook the extraordinary things God is up to around you? Ask God to give you eyes that see His activity clearly in your life, a heart that is sensitive to His Spirit, and feet that are quick to obedience.