Do You Come in Peace?

I. Doctrines operative in this brief Narrative

A. We have a clear manifestation of the fact that time had a beginning, progresses through events decreed and sustained by God, and moves toward an end. By God’s purpose, history moves from beginning to end in a linear fashion and is not an eternal cycle of finally meaningless events. The time for Saul is past and Samuel must press into the future.

B. We see more clearly that the purpose of creation and, thus, the movement of history is for the manifestation of the Messiah in the “fullness of time.” The nature of the messianic promises begins gradually to open more widely while the genealogical context narrows.

C. We see a clear example of the particular sovereignty of God in his selection of persons for his purposes.

D. Revelation from God, though permeating creation, providence, human conscience etc. gives its most precise and clearly discernible content in rational verbal communication. God speaks and gives specific instruction and other types of information in human language.

II. The Lord Moved Samuel off Dead-Center – Verse 1

A. Samuel had no further perspective than the failure of Saul to provide wise and godly leadership. The king that he anointed had failed to show a spirit of humility toward God. A powerful person in natural gifts and in external spiritual endowments, he had failed to manifest a heart of zeal for the glory of God exhibited through obedience and spiritual worship.

B. God, however, would not fail in his purpose and was not limited to the successful tenure of Saul. Saul had been rejected but the Lord had “provided for [Himself}] a king” among the sons of Jesse. God’s purpose will overcome all the apparent blockades posed by human sin.

C. Samuel therefore, in accord with the command of God and this element of the progress of divine revelation was to prepare himself for another anointing and go to Bethlehem, “the city of David.” The final anointed one, the “Christ,” would be of the “house and lineage of David,” would be born in Bethlehem, and would put an end to all such anointings under the Mosaic covenant (Hebrews 1:8) . All the saved now are anointed as kings and priests and also serve as prophets (Revelation 1:5; 1 Peter 1:9).

III. God Provided a way even through Hesitation and Fear

A. Though he had anointed Saul, had been bold with Saul, and lamented his fall, Samuel knew his potential for violence, which would be clearly manifest toward David. He asked, therefore, for guidance from the Lord to follow the command without enraging Saul.

B. God had provided a way of avoiding suspicion that also was consistent with the nature of Samuel’s mission.

1. It was to be a mission for making a sacrifice of consecration for the people of the city. It amounted to an invocation for blessing, gratitude for preservation from calamity, and establishing greater purity of worship among the people of the city. This would be consistent with the itinerancy of Samuel as a priest as well as with the specific purpose of God in consecrating David as King, as ancestor of the Messiah as to his human nature.

2. He told him to ascertain specifically that Jesse and his family came to the sacrifice. God unfolded his will step by step, not revealing the entire purpose of the visit at once. This is consistent with the nature of divine revelation as it unfolds throughout the entire corpus of Scripture. Also it served as a continuing test of trust for Samuel. God continues to test his children throughout their lives so that patience will have its perfect work (James 1:2-4).

IV. Samuel’s Presence Meant Something Serious was to take Place.

A. It is quite remarkable that the elders came “trembling” to meet Samuel. This shows a commendable seriousness on their part. They did not come with the flippant and self-confident air of Agag, but with a realization that the prophet does not make such visits without a divinely revealed purpose.

B. They asked if he came “peaceably.” Are you to bring a judgment against us, or will we experience grace? They understood that all people stand under a possibility of a manifestation of vengeful justice at any time. They continued to exist only by the mercy of God. These elements always are mixed in the present actions of God toward this world—mercy and justice.

1. Mercy was mixed with judgment in the actions of God toward Adam in the post-fall encounter with the Lord. A curse came on them and their posterity, the earth, and subjection to toil, pain, sickness in this life; also a promise of a deliverer was given at the same time.

2. When God found human sinfulness so full that the destruction of the earth’s inhabitants was the appropriate response, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

3. At the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God spared Lot and his daughters. Lot’s wife, seemingly yearning for her life in Sodom, fell under divine judgment even after she had left the walls of the city.

4. Now the king, Saul the Benjaminite, has forfeited all the favors God had granted him, but God will continue to mold and protect his people through a shepherd, David of Judah.

C. Samuel brought a sacrifice, indicating that his purpose was propitious toward the city. Indeed it was so toward the family of Jesse in particular, the nation in general, and ultimately for people of every tongue, tribe, and nation. He did come peaceably. God, who is a consuming fire who will take vengeance on his enemies (“fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour them”) addresses himself to us as the “God of Peace” in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 13:20, 21). The sacrifice offered by Samuel represented the “blood of the eternal covenant.”

V. God’s Prerogative of selection for Service as well as Salvation – Verses 6-10

A. When Samuel saw Eliab, he immediately thought that he would be the one to be anointed. The Lord told him not to observe the outward appearance such as height or stature, for “I have rejected him.”


1. These words remind us that God controls the operation of his purpose of grace. In Genesis 5:22 – 6:13 in spite of all external appearances. “I have remembered my covenant. . . . I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you, etc.” God’s purpose proceeds according to his decree, even to the selecting of one person and the rejection of another. “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you” (Genesis 7:3, 4).Prior to the plague of the hail, God told Pharaoh through Moses, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Genesis 9:16).

2. Seven of the sons of Jesse passed before Samuel and on each occasion Samuel, speaking under the revelatory knowledge from God, said, “The Lord has not chosen this one,” and finally “The Lord has not chosen these.” In ways that surpass our comprehension, God has established, not only his final purpose of subduing all things to Himself in a comprehensive manifestation of justice and mercy, but has selected all the means, even the very persons, through whom he will effect this plan as well as all the persons upon whom his justice and mercy will descend.

B. Samuel Anointed David, the keeper of the sheep – Verses 11 -13

1. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” These verse were spoken to Samuel after God revealed that the first son, Eliab, was not to be anointed. What is entailed in this principle?

Our concentration is on the external conditions that surround us, but God’s sovereign purpose has to do with the rule and reign of His Son over the hearts of men. We look toward the arrangement of sufficient amounts of force to control and establish a peaceful environment in the political realm; God operates on the heart to bring his people to love his rule over them. Heaven is the place of hearts conformed to the holy beauty of God, for “his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3, 4); In hell hearts are unchanged – “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15).

God was not saying that David’s heart, in any natural sense, was superior to the heart of Eliab, or any of the other sons of Jesse. He was revealing that he had determined to work in the heart of David in a way to reveal more truth about the human heart. Election inevitably results in the operation of the new birth in the heart.

Through David, God would reveal the depth and horror of the power and perversity of indwelling sin (Psalm 51).

Through David God would reveal that faith includes a sense of utter dependence on God and steadfastness of heart (Psalm 57).

Through David God would reveal the joy and elevation of spirit that arises from a redeemed heart as it considers the beauty of divine mercy (Psalm 32).

2. With the same sovereign purpose with which God chose Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob, so he chose David, one of the eight sons of Jesse through whom to bring about the human nature that would be assumed by the Eternal Son of God. Through David, God selected his own genealogical tree to take the nature of man into his person for the redemption of sinners.

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
Get Founders
in Your Inbox
A weekly brief of our new teaching resources.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Teaching BY TYPE
Teaching BY Author
Founders Podcasts