Poole on 1 Samuel 16:6-11: God's Judgment, Man's Judgment

Verse 6:[1] And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on (1 Sam. 17:13) Eliab (called Elihu, 1 Chron. 27:18[2]), and (1 Kings 12:26) said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.


[And when they entered] With them entering, namely, the sons of Jesse. That is, with them beginning to enter: because at that time Eliab alone, the eldest with respect to birth, was entering: as it is learned from what follows. Now, with them entering, understand, into a certain chamber, where, with the sacrifice ended, they had gathered, and had sat down, both the elders of the city, and Jesse, etc. (Piscator).


When they were come; when the most of Jesse’s sons were come, either to the place of the feast, or to some other place near it, appointed for this private discourse, whither they were to come before they went to the feast. It must also be understood that Samuel had acquainted Jesse with his design, which is easily gathered out of the context, and needed not be expressed.


[And he says] Namely, in his own heart; he thought. A Synecdoche of genus (Piscator).


[Is the Lord’s Christ before Him?] Is not the future King before thee, O Lord? (Menochius).


[אַ֛ךְ נֶ֥גֶד יְהוָ֖ה מְשִׁיחֽוֹ׃] Surely before Jehovah, or the Lord, is His Christ, or anointed one (Septuagint, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Strigelius,[3] English), that is, he is approved by Jehovah as king, as in Judges 18:6 (Malvenda out of Junius). He thought that the Lord had chosen him to be King (Munster). This appears to have been said imprudently, which what follows corrects: of which sort was that of Nathan, 2 Samuel 7:3 (Malvenda out of Junius). Outside of the time of revelation, it happens that the Prophets err, 2 Samuel 7 (Grotius). But אַךְ/surely is able also to be an expression of doubt: perhaps before the the Lord. Thus in Psalm 139:11[4] (Malvenda). Or it is a Hebraism; the Lord bestows the highest favor upon His Christ. Or, the Lord shall be with His Christ. Or, before the Lord let His Christ be; that is, may the Lord keep His Christ (Vatablus). God has provided beautifully for Messiah (Jonathan in Vatablus, Estius[5]); that is to say, this one has the form and stature worthy of a king (Estius). He is evidently present before Jehovah; that is to say, here, O Jehovah, etc. (Castalio[6]). According to the Lord is His anointed (Syriac). He is the anointed of the Lord according to His will (Arabic). Certainly this man is before the Lord, His anointed (Dutch).


Is before him, that is, is in this place where God is now present. For it is observable, that not only the sacrifice is said to be offered, but even the feast upon the remainders of it is said to be eaten, before the Lord, Deuteronomy 12:7, that is, before or near his altar, where God was present in a special manner. And the ground of this expression seems to be this, that Jesse brought not all his sons together, but made one after another to come to the place, and to pass before Samuel, who stood before the Lord, in some place near the altar, that this great business might be managed with more solemnity. And Eliab being the person now before Samuel, is said to be now before the Lord. But whatsoever the ground of this phrase is, this is certain and confessed, that this is his meaning, This I take to be the person whom I am sent to anoint; wherein yet he was greatly mistaken, as other prophets sometimes were, when they hastily spake their own thoughts, before they had consulted God in the case, as 2 Samuel 7:3.


Verse 7:[7] But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on (Ps. 147:10, 11) his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: (Is. 55:8) for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man (2 Cor. 10:7) looketh on the outward appearance (Heb. eyes[8]), but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; Ps. 7:9; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12; Acts 1:24).


[And the Lord said] That is, by Secret inspiration (Piscator).


The Lord spake by secret inspiration. The height of his stature; whereby thou wast once deceived in Saul, 1 Samuel 10:23, 24, and therefore shouldst not now be deceived a second time.


[Not according to the regard of man do I judge, כִּ֣י׀ לֹ֗א אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִרְאֶה֙] For not what sees (what considers [Vatablus]; as sees [Munster, Strigelius, Septuagint, Jonathan]; what is wont to regard [Junius and Tremellius]) man (Tigurinus, Montanus, Pagnine), understanding, either, do I see, or regard (Jonathan, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius), or, does God see (Munster, Strigelius).


[For man sees those things that appear, לַעֵינַיִם] To the eyes (Montanus). What things are before the eyes (Pagnine, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus). They see in their eyes (Jonathan). He needs the gaze of the eye (Arabic). Men regard the face (Castalio). Man judges of man by external things (Osiander).


Man looketh on the outward appearance; men value men by their outsides.


[The Lord considers the heart] Those to whom the right of choosing a King is granted ought to do the same, as imitators of God. See what things Aristotle has concerning this matter, Politics 3:13 (Grotius). [Peter Martyr asks, Why He did not see the heart of Saul, before he was anointed: but he does not answer the question. But it is able to be answered: At that time God gave to them a king, not of what sort He approved, but of what sort they deserved.] There is an Ellipsis here; as it is evident out of verse 8, neither hath the Lord chosen this one. That is to say, I said a little before concerning Eliab, that Jehovah did not choose him (for it is indicated that he revealed this to Jesse, and that unto this end, that he might bring in the one nearest to Eliab); now I say the same concerning Abinadab: βραχυλογία/ brachylogia[9] (Piscator).


The Lord looketh on the heart; God esteems of men by the goodness of their hearts, and hath now proceeded by that rule in the choice of a king, and would have done so before, if the people’s sinful desires had not provoked him to give them a bad king.


Verse 8:[10] Then Jesse called (1 Sam. 17:13) Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.


Verse 9:[11] Then Jesse made (1 Sam. 17:13) Shammah (Shimeah, 2 Sam. 13:3;[12] Shimma, 1 Chron. 2:13[13]) to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

Shammah, called also Shimeah, 2 Samuel 13:3, and Shimma, 1 Chronicles 2:13.


Verse 10:[14] Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.


[Jesse brought his seven sons[15]] Therefore, he had eight sons. For David, the eighth, was absent. You will say, that in 1 Chronicles 2 only seven sons of אִישַׁי/Ishai,[16] or יִשַׁי/Jesse (for those two names are the same), are enumerated including David. Responses: 1. In that passage, not all are enumerated, but one is passed over for a reason unknown to us: perhaps, because the eighth was of a concubine, or secondary wife. Just as in 1 Samuel 14:49, Ish-bosheth is omitted, concerning whom 2 Samuel 2 (Lapide, Tostatus in Sanchez). 2. One of these seven was a grandson (Junius, Piscator). They say that Jonathan, the son of Shimea, whose name is found in 2 Samuel 21:21, was adopted by Jesse; just as Ephraim and Manasseh were by Jacob[17] (certain interpreters in Sanchez).


Seven of his sons, that is, the rest of his sons, which were seven, besides David; for in all he had eight, 1 Samuel 17:12. It is true, there are but seven of them named 1 Chronicles 2:13-15, but that may be because one of them was either born of a concubine, or an obscure person; or one that died immediately after this time.


Verse 11:[18] And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, (1 Sam. 17:12) There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, (2 Sam. 7:8; Ps. 78:70) Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down (Heb. round[19]) till he come hither.


[Can it be that thy sons are already complete? הֲתַ֣מּוּ הַנְּעָרִים֒] Are thy sons finished (ended [Munster, Pagnine, Syriac]) (Montanus)? Can it be that they have ceased to pass by? (Junius and Tremellius). A similar expression in Matthew 10:23[20] (Junius). Are all present? (Vatablus, Tigurinus, similarly the English). Is the number of thy children complete? (Strigelius). A Hebraism: Hast thou no son besides those? (Vatablus).


[Yet remains the young, הַקָּטָן] The lesser (Montanus, Pagnine); the youngest (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus); the small (Septuagint). Not that he was a child, or of a small body (for soon in verse 18 he is called a Man of war, and most mighty in strength; and at that time David was twenty-eight years old, as the Hebrews relate in Seder Olam[21] (Tirinus) (or rather twenty years old [Lapide]): but he was the youngest of his brothers. Thus Benjamin, Genesis 43:29, is called a child;[22] while, nevertheless, he had ten sons, as it is evident from Genesis 46:21 (Tirinus).


[The young] That is to say, he is of such a sort, that thou oughtest not to take pains to see him (Sanchez). See here how different are the judgments of God and of men (Lapide). It appears that Jesse is not well acquainted with David’s quality and virtue (Sanchez).


[And he feeds the sheep (thus nearly all), רֹעֶ֖ה בַּצֹּ֑אן] Feeding among the flock (Montanus, Septuagint). [There is a similar construction in verse 10,לֹא־בָחַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה בָּאֵֽלֶּה׃, the Lord hath not chosen in them, in the place of He hath not chosen them.]


He keepeth the sheep; and consequently is the most unfit of all my sons for that high employment. Either therefore he did not thoroughly understand David’s great wisdom and valour, or he judgeth him unfit, by reason of his mean education. And God so ordered it by his providence, that David’s choice might plainly appear to be God’s work, and not Samuel’s or Jesse’s design.


[For we will not sit down (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus), לֹא־נָסֹב[23]] We will not sit round (Montanus, similarly Malvenda), that is, we will sit in a circle, so that it might indicate the manner in which they were at that time sitting at table for feasts (Malvenda, similarly Munster). We will not turn aside (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), that is, to the feast. In the same sense this verb is taken in Genesis 42:24[24] (Junius). Therefore, the feast was to be celebrated in another chamber (Piscator). I will not return (Syriac). I will not return to my place (Arabic). [They appear to have read אָסוֹב.] We will not return, that is, we will not depart hence (Malvenda). This is said because after the sacrifices of peace offerings the consecrated things were eaten (Munster). All, being filled with zeal for God, urge His precepts, and are unwilling that they be deferred (Serarius,[25] Lapide). And before the midday repast arduous things are wont to be treated (Lapide). But how, you will ask, was David able to approach the sacred feast, since he was not sanctified? Responses: 1. Perhaps David was present, and was sanctified with the others, and stood by, while the victims were sacrificed; but afterwards he went out into the countryside, so that the flock might not be left without a shepherd. 2. God, the author of the law, was able to relax His own decree. 3. David was so pious and clean that he did not need a rite of this sort. We see here that not all things are immediately revealed to Samuel. Thus God leads us step-by-step to the knowledge of the truth (Martyr).


We will not sit down, to wit, to the feast. Question: How could David be admitted to this feast, being, as it seems, not sanctified with the rest of his brethren? Answer 1. It is not strange if the prophet, by God’s direction, dispensed with the ordinary rule, in a person so extraordinary, both for his piety and the dignity to which he was chosen. 2. It is not affirmed that David did sit down with them to the feast, but only that they would not do so till he came. And when he was come, and Samuel had done what he intended with him, David, for aught we know, might depart, and the rest sit down to the feast; for David was not now actually raised to any higher degree, but returned to his former employment; as we read below, verse 19.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֔ם וַיַּ֖רְא אֶת־אֱלִיאָ֑ב וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אַ֛ךְ נֶ֥גֶד יְהוָ֖ה מְשִׁיחֽוֹ׃ [2] 1 Chronicles 27:18: “Of Judah, Elihu (אֱלִיהוּ), one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael…” [3] Victorinus Strigelius (1524-1569) was a Melanchthonian Lutheran scholar and Professor of Philosophy at Jena, and then at Leipzig. He wrote Libri Samuelis, Regum, et Paralipomenon, ad Veritatem Hebraicam Recogniti et Breviis Commentarii Explicati. [4] Psalm 139:11: “If I say, Surely (אַךְ/perhaps) the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.” [5] William Estius (1542-1613) labored first as a lecturer on Divinity, then as the Chancellor at Doway. Theologically, he bears the imprint of the modified Augustinianism of Michael Baius. In his commentary writing, as exemplified in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam and Commentarii in Epistolas Apostolicas, he focuses on the literal meaning of the text; and he is widely regarded for his exegetical skill and judgment. [6] Sebastian Castalio (1515-1563) distinguished himself as a scholar by means of his linguistic talents, evident in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. After a period of working closely with Calvin, the two fell into controversy. Castalio was inclined towards Pelagianism, and his views were influential in the development of Socinianism. As a translator of the Bible, he takes great liberty with the text, molding the speech of the prophets to conform to the standards of classical Latin. [7] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל אַל־תַּבֵּ֧ט אֶל־מַרְאֵ֛הוּ וְאֶל־גְּבֹ֥הַּ קוֹמָת֖וֹ כִּ֣י מְאַסְתִּ֑יהוּ כִּ֣י׀ לֹ֗א אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִרְאֶה֙ הָאָדָ֔ם כִּ֤י הָֽאָדָם֙ יִרְאֶ֣ה לַעֵינַ֔יִם וַיהוָ֖ה יִרְאֶ֥ה לַלֵּבָֽב׃ [8] Hebrew: לַעֵינַיִם. [9] That is, a concise form of speech. [10] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֤א יִשַׁי֙ אֶל־אֲבִ֣ינָדָ֔ב וַיַּעֲבִרֵ֖הוּ לִפְנֵ֣י שְׁמוּאֵ֑ל וַיֹּ֕אמֶר גַּם־בָּזֶ֖ה לֹֽא־בָחַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃ [11] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֵ֥ר יִשַׁ֖י שַׁמָּ֑ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר גַּם־בָּזֶ֖ה לֹא־בָחַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃ [12] 1 Samuel 13:3: “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah (שִׁמְעָה) David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.” [13] 1 Chronicles 2:13: “And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma (וְשִׁמְעָא) the third…” [14] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֵ֥ר יִשַׁ֛י שִׁבְעַ֥ת בָּנָ֖יו לִפְנֵ֣י שְׁמוּאֵ֑ל וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶל־יִשַׁ֔י לֹא־בָחַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה בָּאֵֽלֶּה׃ [15] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֵ֥ר יִשַׁ֛י שִׁבְעַ֥ת בָּנָ֖יו. [16] 1 Chronicles 2:13: “And Jesse (וְאִישַׁי) begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third…” [17] Genesis 48:5. [18] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֣ל אֶל־יִשַׁי֮ הֲתַ֣מּוּ הַנְּעָרִים֒ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר ע֚וֹד שָׁאַ֣ר הַקָּטָ֔ן וְהִנֵּ֥ה רֹעֶ֖ה בַּצֹּ֑אן וַיֹּ֙אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֤ל אֶל־יִשַׁי֙ שִׁלְחָ֣ה וְקָחֶ֔נּוּ כִּ֥י לֹא־נָסֹ֖ב עַד־בֹּא֥וֹ פֹֽה׃ [19] Hebrew: נָסֹב. [20] Matthew 10:23: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over (οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, ye shall not have finished) the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” [21]Seder Olam Rabbah was a chronicle from Adam to the Bar Kochba rebellion, written around 160 AD. [22] Genesis 43:29: “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother (הֲזֶה֙ אֲחִיכֶ֣ם הַקָּטֹ֔ן), of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.” [23]סָבַב signifies to go around, or to surround. [24] Genesis 42:24: “And he turned himself about (וַיִּסֹּב) from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.” [25] Nicholas Serarius (1555-1610) was a Jesuit theologian and exegete. He served as Professor of Theology at the University of Mainz. Commentarius in Librum Josuæ, Judicum, Ruth, Regum, et Paralipomenon.

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