Lighthouse Leader Study Guide

Date: March 19, 2017

Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 16

This Week’s Printable Resources:

Overview of this Lesson

If you were reading the Bible chronologically (Genesis – Revelation, straight through), you would have read the little book of Ruth right before turning to 1 Samuel. Ruth is one of the greatest love stories ever told. It makes the tale of Cinderella pale in comparison. The last few verses of Ruth summarize the fruit of her marriage to Boaz:

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.–Ruth 4:13–17 (ESV)

With that little genealogy at the end of Ruth, we are introduced to the greatest man of the Old Testament–David. No other man in the bible bears his name. More is written about David than any other person in the Old Testament. His name is referenced 57 times in the New Testament. Most importantly, it is his name that becomes the family name of the Messiah.[1] When introducing the legal bloodline of Jesus and his right to the throne, Matthew starts his gospel, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

In this week’s study from 1 Samuel 16, we are introduced to the young shepherd boy who would become king. The writer of Samuel continues to draw a sharp contrast between Saul, the king whom God rejected because of his rebellion and unfaithfulness, and David, a man God identifies as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). What qualifies someone to be considered “a man (or woman) after God’s own heart”? Is it the family we are born into? Is it a life of sinless perfection? Is it the line of work we are called to or the amount of wealth we gather during a lifetime?

If you’re honest with yourself, you probably wonder if some of those things don’t play a part. That’s because we are all human, and that’s what impresses us. Stature. Good looks. Wealth. Power. But, as we will see this week, God is looking for something different. Very different. What qualities is God looking for a men and women? That’s the point of this week’s lesson.

Memory Verse for This Week

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

This Week’s Core Virtue

Faithfulness (Proverbs 3:3-4): I have established a good name with God and with others based on my long-term loyalty to those relationships.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

“It’s the heart that God sees, and the heart where God works.
Truly, it’s what’s inside that matters most.”


  1. Do first impressions count?
  2. Can you recall a time when your first impression of someone proved to be dead wrong and the complete opposite their true character and personality?
  3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.

Read the Text (1 Samuel 16)

This week we meet David, the shepherd boy and future king of Israel. Next to God Himself, David is one of the central figures of the entire Bible. From him will descend a line of kings that will stretch more than a thousand years to a little stable in Bethlehem where the King of Kings will be born. David is introduced to us as a young boy, perhaps in his mid-teens. He is described as ruddy and handsome, with beautiful eyes. Most importantly, David is described by God Himself as “a man after my own heart.” That is quite an accomplishment. Read 1 Samuel 16.

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

  1. What do we learn about David’s life and family from this week’s text in 1 Samuel 16?

In the eyes of the world and of his own family, David was nothing. Jewish culture heavily favored the oldest son as the heir and successor to the family. The father ruled his family, and upon his death, the oldest son would rightly assume this responsibility.[2]

David was a long ways down the list. He was the eighth son. David was of so little consequence that when Jesse is asked to assemble his sons to meet with Samuel the Prophet, David is not even included. Perhaps sensing the importance of such a meeting with the Prophet, Jesse presents his “Magnificent Seven,” the seven strapping sons of Jesse.

Of these seven hunks of Hebrew manhood, one stood out—the oldest, Eliab. He was tall, good looking, and his presence commanded respect. When Samuel saw Eliab walk into the room, his eyes immediately focused on the young man. “Here he is,” Samuel must have thought to himself, “this is the man the Lord has selected as king,” and he reached for his horn of oil. The Lord immediately stopped Samuel: “not so fast, Pilgrim.” (That’s the CE translation.)

After reviewing all of the sons of Jesse, Samuel recognizes a problem: the Lord has already told him the next king will be found in the family of Jesse, but the Lord has rejected all of the sons of Jesse. Realizing the problem, Samuel asks Jesse the obvious question: are these all of your children? And Jesse is forced to reply, “well, there is the youngest, but he’s out tending to the sheep.” Samuel’s order is clear: “Go get him!”

As soon as David walks in, the Lord tells Samuel, “that’s him. Get up and anoint him,” which Samuel does, in front of David’s entire family.

  1. What does 1 Samuel 16 tell us about King Saul?

We have witnessed the decline of Saul the last few chapters. Chapter 16 now introduces us to David, Saul’s successor, and carefully merges the lives of the two men together, continuing to draw a hard contrast between the two of them. The following chart from the ESV Study Bible summarizes what is happening as the lives of Saul and David intersect: 

The Fall of Saul and the Rise of David in 1 Samuel



Holy Spirit removed; evil spirit given (16:14–23) Anointed with Holy Spirit (16:1–13)
Jealous and treacherous (ch. 18) Faithful friend (ch. 20)
Attempts to kill David (ch. 19) Protects Saul’s life (chs. 24; 26)
Failed holy warrior (ch. 15) Mighty holy warrior (ch. 17)
Kingdom torn away (13:13–14; 15:11, 26) Kingdom promised forever (2 Sam. 7:1–17)

Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 517.


  1. What important lesson do we learn from Samuel’s first impression of Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab?

This starts to focus in on the heart of this lesson. The principle we will explore—and it is an essential principle for God’s people to learn and understand—is summarized in 1 Samuel 16:6-7:

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”–1 Samuel 16:6–7 (ESV)

The first principle we must learn and accept is that all of us, regardless of how godly and spiritual we may be, are often fooled by faulty first impressions. In this case, Samuel takes one look at Eliab and his first impression is immediate: there he is…the next king! Remember, Samuel is not some rank amateur or novice at this point in the story, he is a seasoned, mature, recognized prophet of God. Yet, his eyes fool him and if he had followed his own impulse, he would have anointed Eliab king.

How is this principle played out in our lives today? Like Samuel, we, too, are quickly impressed by the outward appearances of a man or woman.

This July I will complete 26 years of full-time ministry. During that time I have witnessed many “Samuel & Eliab Moments.” Sometimes it is the new family that walks into church, all dressed nicely, clearly people of substance and refinement. The children are well behaved, they drive a luxury car, live in a luxury home, and give a luxury-sized offering. Pastors are often quick to engage such a family, and if the family proves faithful in attendance, they will rise quickly in both influence and stature in the pastor’s eyes. It’s easy to do. The first clue of potentially deeper problems is when you discover that this wonderful family just left a good church in your area. Typically, the husband/father will make some kind of statement like, “the pastor and I didn’t see eye-to-eye.” As you watch and observe the family over time, you will begin to see a King Saul-like heart in the man, a controlling spirit, and a desire to have his way.

The other place you will see people fall for first impressions too often is during the courtship or dating years. What qualifies as a godly husband or godly wife? That question gets lost in the blur of emotions that happen when a boy and a girl first fall in love. Parents are often looking for specific outward qualities: does he have a good job? Can he provide for a family? Will he move my little girl across the country and away from mom and dad? As the boy or girl, we are very focused on the outward appearances: is she good looking? Is he handsome? Is she popular? Is he a star athlete?

Here’s the core principle we must grasp: do not trust outward appearances and first impressions! Let me repeat this again: do not trust outward appearances and first impressions! They are meaningless. Verse 7 gives us the principle in black and white:

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

If you are going to learn to trust something at this point, learn to trust that your first impressions will likely be wrong. At the same time, we must acknowledge that only God truly sees the heart of a man or a woman. This is a foundational principle not only in the study of 1 Samuel, but throughout the Bible. Consider some of the following verses:

1 Chronicles 28:9 – “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.

2 Chronicles 16:9a – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

Isaiah 55:8–9 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Acts 1:24 – And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen.”

  1. What does it mean to have a heart after God’s own heart?

This, indeed, is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? We would all like to think we have a heart after God’s own heart, but do we? How can we know? The Bible gives us many indicators:

Psalm 27:4 – One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Psalm 147:10–11 – He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.

Acts 13:22 – And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

Let’s connect these verses together to get a clear picture:

  • in Psalm 27:4, David describes the “one thing” he has desired: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire in His temple.
  • 2 Chronicles 9:16 tells us the Lord is searching throughout the entire earth for someone who’s heart is loyal to Him.
  • Psalm 147:11 tells us that the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, and hope in His mercy.
  • Acts 13:22 tells us that what set David apart from Saul was that David was a man who would do what the Lord asked of him. He was obedient to the will of the Lord.

Perhaps the best summary of David’s life is provided by some unnamed servant of Saul in 1 Samuel 16:18. He describes David as “a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.”

The last few words are key: the Lord is with him. This was someone who appears to barely know David, He simply tells Saul, I’ve seen this kid, a son of Jesse, and the Lord is with him.” Simply put, the presence of God was an observable quality in David’s life.

Does that describe you? Would your neighbor two houses down and across the street mention you to someone else and say, I know this guy (or gal), he’s a great guy, and the Lord is with him.

Here is the question to reflect on with your group: what is “the one thing” in your life? We all have “one thing” that really gets us excited and engaged. We can sit listening to a conversation and not say a word until something touches on “the one thing” in your life, something you are passionate about, and then you can’t shut up!

David was described as a “man after God’s own heart,” and in Psalm 27:4 David tells us what his “one thing” was: it was God. That’s all. What got David excited and engaged? What was David passionate about? It was doing the will of the Lord.

Does that describe Saul? No. Saul was excited and engaged about “one thing” and that was Saul. He was good with God as long as God didn’t interfere with his “one thing” and that was what was best for Saul. God hates this kind of thinking and he rejected Saul because of it.

  1. What must I do to be a man or woman whom God would describe as “a man (or woman) after My own heart?

Understand first, that God uses ordinary people, men and women who come from ordinary lives in ordinary places. There are no superstars on God’s team, except for God Himself. The Lord is not seeking to you great in the eyes of man, He is looking for men and women who will glorify Him in the eyes of the world.

Second, God uses truly born again, spiritual people. He is looking for men and women who do not strive with His spirit, but are humble and submissive to His Spirit’s leading.

Finally, God uses faithful people. Alan Redpath said, “The conversion of a soul is a miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.” Becoming a man or woman after God’s own heart is a lifetime endeavor. We must learn to handle the little things before God will trust us with the big things. We must learn to wait on the Lord in the lonely places that prove our character and endurance.

Remember this: God is the one who develops our character, the inner qualities that define who we are, and He is never in a hurry.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

  1. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
  1. Do you desire to be a man or woman after God’s own heart? Take a moment and reflect on this week’s lesson. What is the one thing you believe God is leading you to do that will either start you on this path or help you take the next step in obedience?



[1] In many ways, Hebrew men were identified as the son of… This served as the family name, similar to how we identify people today by their last name. In Hebrew culture, men were know as the son of… For example, Abram was the son of Terah (Gen. 11:27). Joshua was the son of Nun (Josh. 1:1). Saul, David’s predecessor, was the son of Kish (1 Samuel 10:21). Of course, David, as we have seen from the book of Ruth, was known as the son of Jesse (1 Chronicles 29:26). (As a side note, it is interesting to see how Saul refers to David in the last half of 1 Samuel. Knowing that David had been chosen king in his place, Saul grew to mistrust and hate David, and rarely referred to him by his common name, choosing to instead simply refer to him as “the son of Jesse” (cf. 1 Samuel 20:30-31).

[2] This was of such importance, that if a man should die before having children, the Law permitted/required the dead man’s brother or closes male relative to take the dead man’s widowed wife and attempt to have children with her who will carry on the dead man’s legacy. This is called a levirate marriage, and is outlined in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. A levirate marriage is what we see in the Book of Ruth. Consequently, David is the product of a levirate marriage.