The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – David

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.  1 Samuel 16:13 (KJV)

The word here for “came upon” is tsȃlach.  It seems that the Holy Spirit stayed with him and did not depart.  If we substitute the main uses of the word of tsȃlach; God prospered David all of his life, and it is not a problem to see that blessing throughout his life.

At first, it bothered me that the Holy Spirit is mentioned just six times in connection with David, but He is mentioned less with Moses!  Then I realized that it is in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit.  His main purpose is to bring attention to Jesus, not Himself.  So even though David, the writer, was led by the Spirit; the Spirit had him write about Jesus in the Psalms.

Below are the six verses that directly connect David and the Spirit.  I put them into a timeline in David’s life, even though the middle four do not have a defined time stamp in reference to the other ones.  Read the whole reference so that the verses are in context, I think they will show growth in knowing and understand the importance of the Spirit in David’s walk with God.

  • 1 Samuel 16: 13 (the coming upon)
  • Psalm 139: 7 (a song of praise and thanks) To put this into after he acted crazy to escape the Philistines when he was hiding from Saul.
  • Psalm 51: 11 (Bathsheba and his cries for the Spirit to not leave him like He did Saul)
  • Psalm 143: 10 (a cry for mercy) If I would guess where/when this was written; I would put this during the time when David was running from Absalom after he crossed the Jordan near Lo Debar.
  • 1 Chronicles 28: 12 (plans for the Temple)
  • 2 Samuel 23: 2 (last words)

When you read about David’s life; we tend to think he was anointed by Samuel and then went to work for Saul right away.  If there was a gap then his ability to kill the lion and the bear compares very well to that of Samson, when the Spirit came upon him.

Samuel and the Anointing of Saul

Samuel, the last Judge of Israel, got to anoint the first two kings of Israel.  The anointing of Saul, son of Kish, is told in 1 Samuel 9 & 10, while the anointing of David is in Chapter 16.  Samuel had lead Israel since his youth and had been a prophet (seer) as well as the judge/leader of the nation.  God revealed Himself to Samuel by visitation and His written Word and had used him in mighty ways.

Even with these credentials, the anointing of Saul and David was a faith act for Samuel.  He got the “word of knowledge” about the tribe of Saul and his mission; he was even given the knowledge about the donkeys, but no name.  Samuel had even made dinner plans (9:23), especially for Saul.

In 1 Samuel 10, the actual applying of the oil occurs with a very intriguing set of “signs” that had to be fulfilled.  These were Saul’s faith builders; I will have more on them in another post.

There are some differences and similarities in the anointings that Samuel performed. Both Saul and David were anointed a second time in front of the nation.  Saul’s first anointing was a very private affair; while David’s first one was done in front of his family and the other guest (possibly) at the sacrifice.  Saul received the list of signs that were to be done and it seems that he took his office fairly soon.  David, on the other hand, waited many years for the second anointing and him receiving his kingdom.  It seems to me that Samuel spent quality time with Saul after the meal (9:25, 26) and again when they met in Gilgal (10: 8), but David only had the time when they were hiding from King Saul (19:18).

Samuel and the Anointing of David

The Anointing of David by Paolo Veronese c1564 -Samuel, the Judge, and Prophet of Israel has just been told by God to go anoint a new king (1 Samuel 16). Father God told him who to go to – Jesse of Bethlehem.  He told him how to maneuver around King Saul, and which son was NOT to be anointed.

Why not just tell Samuel the name “David.”  This is the second king Samuel has anointed in just a few years, why add drama to something that Samuel was nervous about.  Can you imagine how Samuel felt after going through seven sons and having to wait for the eighth one to come in from the fields?  Was God testing Samuel?

In Hebrews 11 Samuel is noted as one who had faith and did great things.  He was an important person, having led Israel since he was a youth, and is mention in several other books for notable things he did.  He heard God’s voice and actually talked with Him.

Test or act of faith; that is really hard for me to say but it seems that is how God worked with him.  Samuel did not falter in caring out his mission of anointing one of Jesse’s sons.  When Samuel anointed Saul there was not a lot of “complete sentences” then either.  In my limited view of these things I often think that Samuel was being tested so he had to move and do these things by faith.  But this needs to be tempered because he was following God’s directive and their long history has grounded him in God and His ways.  The example/lesson for us is that even veteran “generals” still have to hear and be sensitive to God’s leading.