1 Samuel 16: 1-13 – Having a heart for God



1 Samuel 16:1-13.


ILLUS.: In the year 1809 world attention – at least Western world – was focused on Napoleon marching across Austria. One village and town after another were falling before his armies.

During that same year thousands of babies were born in Britain and America but who cared about bottles, nappies and cradles with such momentous event going on in Europe.

In that same year William Gladstone was born in Liverpool. Alfred Tennyson began life in Lincolnshire. Edgar Alan Poe was born in Boston. Charles Robert Darwin wore his first nappy and in a little log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, an illiterate labourer and his wife named their newborn son Abraham Lincoln.

The lives of these men would have a dramatic effect on the coming century and beyond – But nobody cared about these babies while Napoleon was marching through Austria – yet today only historians could name one of the battles Napoleon fought in Austria. However there are few people today whose lives have not been touched by the men mentioned above. The babies – the nobodies in 1809.

Israelites living in Palestine in about 1030 -1020 BC were focused on a man named Saul, the first king of Israel. He was leading the nation – winning battles – meanwhile a young lad named David was looking sheep. a young lad nobody noticed – nobody that is, except God.

At SGM – who made the headlines today? Isn’t it politicians, generals, CEO’s of big plc’s., who change the world?

NO! God’s people are agents for change – they only have a message that changes the heart.

David was an agent for change in his day AND to this day – the psalms he wrote are still read and sung by millions of people around the world.

David is called a “man after God’s heart” 1 Sam.13:14 Acts 13:22


Because David’s life was perfect and polished and sophisticated? Because he had arrived and is an example of a perfect follower of God? NO! But because in David we have a man grappling with life – having the rough edges rubbed off – a man who is alive to God. And we are never more alive than when/until we are dealing with God.

David’s life teaches us about many things:- friends and enemies, lovers, children, wives, parents, danger, pride, humiliation; death, sickness, sexuality; justice, peace, worship — but always in the midst of all these things and people it is God with whom we have to do!!

David’s story is a down-to-earth story. It deals with David as a Man after God’s heart in the rough and tumble of everyday life. David is not some sanctimonious super-saint – he is a shepherd, a warrior, a friend, a husband, a lover, a sinner, a king, a father, a musician, a poet, a worshipper of God.


Our Western way of thinking the heart is the seat of the emotions – the symbol of the heart is strongly linked with romantic love.

But in scripture the heart refers to that inner part of us designed to discern the truth, to represent our inner being, to be the spiritual epicentre of our lives.

We use the word heart to refer to far more than a collection of ventricles, values and veins!!          Examples:–

  • someone is good at heart
  • we learn things by heart
  • someone courageous has a heart of steel
  • urging someone to be compassionate we say, ‘Have a heart’
  • to desire to achieve something ‘we set our hearts on it’
  • if we take something seriously ‘we take it to heart’
  • open and transparent ‘she wears her heart on her sleeve’

These are very close to the biblical symbols – the heart as the real person – the centre of being.

We are told “Love the lord your God with all your heart…” –

What does David’s life teaches us about the kind of heart that pleases God?



Saul failed as king and God has dispatched Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a king elect – one of the sons of Jesse – but he wasn’t told which one. Samuel is afraid of what Saul might do if he finds out but he obeys God anyway!

But he didn’t allow opposition to stop him obeying God – nor must we!!

David knows nothing about these goings on. He is simply getting on with what he should be getting on with – faithfully doing his job – keeping sheep!

Samuel arrives at Jesse’s home and 7 sons are paraded before Samuel. … So exhibit A is passed over and so on to Exhibit G – 7 sons. Was Samuel panicking at this point – there was no one else in the queue!!

And so David is called from the field – he wasn’t thought worth considering by his Father who had to be prompted to remember that he did have another son – a youngster – a nobody! …….. David is duly anointed as King-elect.

What made David useful for God’s service? What makes anyone useful for God’s service?

A glimpse from David’s later writings…

Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting. (NIV)

David wanted his heart to be openly transparent before God. “Search my heart, Know my heart. Test me. Try me.”

That is why God chose Jesse’s son no. 8 – he may have been a kid looking after sheep BUT God saw his heart.

A Lesson for Samuel [and us] ….

1 Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NIV)

By the way … God is not against externals. He is all for beauty but he is never misled by it. David was a handsome young man BUT that didn’t determine he was to be king.

Something we have to learn in our modern day is that internals are more important than externals. We live in the age of image / packaging… Whether it is pineapples or politicians – the presentation / the image is all-important.

ILLUS. – Politicians have teams of spin-doctors and image-makers working for them.

Even in the supermarket the fruit and veg. has to be the right size / shape / colour – it doesn’t seem to matter that they may be full of pesticides / herbicides / fungicides that could damage your health — so long as they look good!!

Image / marketing is good if there is substance behind the image – eg. SGM trendy materials!!

Put another way God is far more concerned with character than he is about reputation. Doesn’t mean that he is not concerned about our reputation BUT he is more interested in our character.

Reputation is about what people think of us // what we are able to project about ourselves // and what others perceive us to be.

Character is what God knows we are like // it is what we are when no one is watching. ILL: English Gentleman – uses a butter-knife even when dining alone!

“We can package, we can perform, we can project, we can promote, we can pretend. “ [Briscoe] BUT God sees right through all that into our hearts and minds – he sees our character. He looks at the heart.

God is not looking for us to be perfect – he knows that he won’t find a perfect person. BUT he is looking for a heart that is honest, that is genuine, that is repentant.

We can so easily slide into consumer Christianity – What is in it for me?  BUT do I have a heart for God? – his agneda!


The qualities of a godly heart.

SPIRITUALITY – What does it mean to “be a man/woman after God’s heart”? – a person whose life is in harmony with the God. What is important to God is important to you. What burdens God, burdens you.

Someone whose heart is completely God’s …

2 Chronicles 16:9 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him….


HUMILITY – a humble heart …

1 Samuel 16:1   1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (NIV)

Long before Samuel went to Jesse’s house, God had visited and he saw the youngest son and said “That is my man!”

WHY?? He saw a heart completely his – a boy faithfully keeping his father’s sheep – he saw a humble servant heart.

A servant – a genuine servant is not concerned about self-glory but the glory of the one served.


Psalm 78:71-72             71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. 72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them. (NIV)

many synonyms for the Heb. word. — wholesome, innocent, having simplicity of life, sound.  i.e. honest to the core!!

Our world tells us “As long as you can make a good impression!!”write a glowing CV and project a good image at interview – that’s all you need to do!!  NOT with God – you can’t pretend with Him.

The preparation of a godly heart.

God was training David right from the beginning – and David was willing to learn! — in solitude and obscurity — through monotony and reality!

SOLITUDE – nature was David’s teacher on the rugged hills near Bethlehem were he looked after the sheep – on the cold nights and the scorching hot days – through wind and rain. And David was alone with the sheep & with God.

We are so quick to fill our lives with noise! The radio / TV always on /  — If we can’t stand to be alone with ourselves and with God, maybe there are deep unresolved problems.

OBSCURITY – God doesn’t prepare his men and women in the limelight – but in obscurity…

Joseph – for years a slave in Egypt  – then Prime Minister.

Moses 40 years in the desert – then led Israel the next 40.

Jesus first 30 years in a backwater of Palestine – then 3 years of public ministry.

Paul 10 years in obscurity before God began to use him.

If we can’t be a man or woman of God in private and in obscurity we will never do it in Public.

MONOTONY – many Christians want one exciting experience after another – not interested in the mundane or ordinary! BUT God looks for faithfulness in the ordinary, the routine, the insignificant, the uneventful, daily tasks of life. Life without a break — just plain L-I-F-E. ILL: It is not the Mt.tops but the valleys that are fertile!!

David was faithful – day in and day out looking after a bunch of sheep!!

Are we faithful in the daily things! The boring things! Getting on with the job when no one is around / when no one sees / when no one even cares!! God sees!!

REALITY – David didn’t sit on a hilltop in a dreamy haze playing a harp. He faced the dangers and realities of shepherd life.

He didn’t suddenly become the great warrior when he face Goliath in ch.17.

He had face other realities before Goliath!!

1 Samuel 17:34-35 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. {SOLITUDE, OBSUCRITY, MONOTONY} When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, {REALITY} 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. (NIV)


It is in the little things and in the lonely places that God is building our character! – he is never in a hurry!

After David was anointed it was another 13 years before he became king. [20 for all Israel] All that time God was at work in his heart!

God looks at us and says. “You are mine! I want to use you. Because you proved yourself faithful there.” Our calling is to be faithful in the demanding tasks whether that is, at home, in our marriage, our jobs, or just the daily grind of life!

God delights in taking the nobodies of this world and making them in ‘His-bodies’ Men and women who have hearts after God’s heart!! Is it that we develop a heart for God OR that God sets his heart on us?? Both God chose David — and David chose to respond to God!!

God is not looking for perfect people – just people with a heart for him. You may not be in The Times headlines BUT if you are God’s person – living for him – having a heart for him THEN your influence in the world for good is great!

SGM’s publications contain more good news than all the Newspaper combined! AND they, not tabloids or broad-sheets, have the potential to change the world!




1 Samuel 16:1-13.



      late 11thC BC

      Saul is king of Israel

            – the nations first king

             – starts well but fails

      Samuel the prophet instructed by God to anoint another king



      our inner being

      our spiritual epicentre



      internals rather than externals

      character rather than reputation


3. A HEART AFTER GOD: David’s example.

      Qualities of a godly heart

            – Spirituality, humility, integrity

      Preparation of a godly heart

             – solitude        – obscurity

              – monotony    – reality

      Response of a godly heart

            patience –  waiting for God’s timing

            faithfulness – commitment to the task at hand


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