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1 Samuel 15:34-16:131NIV New International Version Translations
15:34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. 16:1 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.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.


The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were, at one time, one book written in Hebrew. During its translation into the Greek language, Samuel was divided into two parts. The name of the book comes from the first important person in this book, Samuel the prophet. Samuel did not write it, however. He died before the end of it. We do not know who wrote the book. The author lived after King Solomon had died in about 930 BC (930 years Before Christ). After Solomon died, the country of Israel divided into two countries, Israel and Judah. The country of Judah included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:1-24). In 1 and 2 Samuel the author often refers to Judah as a country.

In those days, the kings and leaders employed writers. They wrote about the events in their country. The prophets also wrote accounts of events. 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 29:29 all refer to these writers and their books. The writer of 1 and 2 Samuel probably got most of his information from these accounts.

The book of 1 Samuel records a major change from the time of the judges to Israel’s first king. The judges had led the Israelites for about 350 years after the death of Joshua. Samuel was the last of the judges. He was also a prophet and a priest. Samuel anointed Saul, the first king of Israel. But Saul did not obey God. So, God chose another king, David, who would obey him. 1 Samuel ends with the death of Saul. The book of 2 Samuel records the life of David as king.

Biblical Truth2

Saul did not want Samuel to leave him. Saul said that he wanted to worship the Lord. But Saul really wanted Samuel to give him honor. Saul wanted the people to think that nothing had changed. Samuel changed his decision the second time that Saul asked. He went back with Saul. Saul worshipped the Lord. But Samuel did the job that Saul should have done. He killed Agag. Agag thought that he would not have to die. But Samuel punished Agag because he had killed so many people. After this, Samuel left Saul. They lived only 10 miles apart. Samuel never went to visit Saul again because God had refused him as king. Samuel was as sad about Saul as if he had died. And the Lord was sad about the first king of Israel too. Saul continued to rule Israel until he died many years later. But from this day, Saul had many problems. And he was not a good leader.

The Lord did not allow Samuel to be sad about Saul for a long time. God had now chosen a new king. Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:17-22). Samuel went from his home in Ramah to Jesse’s town of Bethlehem. The road went past Gibeah where Saul lived. Saul knew that God would choose a new king to replace him. Samuel was afraid that Saul would be jealous about the new king. And Saul might be angry enough to kill Samuel. So the Lord told Samuel to give a sacrifice to him. Samuel could then tell people the truth. But he did not tell them the main reason for his visit. Samuel trusted God and obeyed him.

The leaders of Bethlehem were afraid of Samuel because he was a prophet. He spoke words from God. He went to towns as a judge (7:15-17). But this was a peaceful visit. They had to separate themselves from things that made them not holy. (Leviticus explains what these things were.) Then they washed and put clean clothes on. This showed that they had made themselves holy. (In Exodus 19 the Israelites had to consecrate themselves before God gave Moses the 10 laws.)

Verse 7 shows us that God does not behave like us. God sees what people are like inside, in their spirit (1 Kings 8:39; Psalm 139; Luke 16:15; John 2:25). He knows about each person’s character. He knows whether they will trust and obey him. This is most important to God. Samuel thought that God would choose Eliab because he was handsome and tall. People like handsome men. And the Israelite army would look good with a tall strong king as leader. But Saul was tall and handsome (9:1-2) and yet he was not a good king.

Samuel, listened to God. God said that he had chosen one of Jesse’s sons. But God did not choose any of the sons who walked past Samuel. Jesse had not invited his youngest son to the sacrifice. Perhaps Jesse thought that he was too young to come. But Samuel had to see Jesse’s youngest son David. He looked handsome, but God saw that he had a good spirit too. Samuel obeyed God. He anointed David with oil. David’s brothers saw this. But we do not know if anyone else from Bethlehem was there. The Spirit of the Lord came on David that day. The Hebrew word means that the Spirit ‘rushed’ on David with power. In Acts 2:1-4, the Holy Spirit sounded like strong wind as he came from heaven. In the Old Testament the Spirit of the Lord (the Holy Spirit) came on people for a particular job. The Spirit also left people when they did not obey God. But the Spirit of the Lord did not leave David.

Samuel went back to his home at Ramah. He had completed the task that God gave to him. The writer mentions Samuel only once more (at the end of chapter 19) before his death in 25:1. The account of David continues in the rest of 1 Samuel. It goes through all of 2 Samuel and finishes with David’s death in 1 Kings 2:10. David was a shepherd. David looked after his father’s sheep. David wrote Psalm 23. He described God as a shepherd. This is picture language for how God cared for David. Jesus said ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11-16). Ezekiel 34 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 call leaders ‘shepherds’ and God’s people ‘sheep’. David understood how God wanted him to lead the Israelites.

Items for Discussion

  • If we were given the task to choose someone from a group of people, what criteria would you use?
  • Since we are unable to see into the hearts of people like God, what kind of criteria might we use to gain insights on one’s faithfulness to God?
  • What was it about David’s life that prepared him so well for being the King God wanted for Israel?
  • What are the characteristics of a shepherd?


John 21:15-17
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.


We are given insight into Simon Peter, who was John’s partner in the fishing business. Simon Peter also a disciple of Jesus (Luke 5:1-11). Simon Peter, James and John were Jesus’ special friends, usually together and witness to much of what Jesus did. They were the only disciples with Jesus when he raised Jairus’ daughter from death (Mark 5:37). On another occasion, Jesus took Simon Peter, James and John up a mountain. There, they saw him as he talked with Moses and Elijah. They heard God’s voice. God said that Jesus was his Son. And they must listen to Jesus (Mark 9:2-12). And on the night before Jesus died, John and Simon Peter made the arrangements for the Passover meal (Luke 22:8). So John, the Gospel’s writer and Peter knew Jesus very well.

Biblical Truth

After breakfast, Jesus walked away from the other disciples (verse 20). He took Simon Peter with him. Jesus wanted to talk to Peter in private. In this conversation, Jesus called Peter by his original name: ‘Simon’.
Outside the High Priest’s house, Peter had said three times that he did not know Jesus. So, three times, Jesus asked Peter if he (Peter) loved him (Jesus). Jesus did this because of several reasons. He wanted Peter to know that he (Jesus) had forgiven him. Also Jesus wanted Peter to say aloud that he loved Jesus. This was the opposite of what Peter had said outside the High Priest’s house. Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to declare that he (Peter) was Jesus’ loyal follower. But Jesus did more than just forgive Peter. Jesus gave Peter a very important job. This showed that Jesus trusted Peter. Even after what Peter had done, Jesus still trusted Peter.

The ‘lambs’ and the ‘sheep’ that Jesus referred to meant his followers. Jesus had called himself ‘the good shepherd’ (John 10:11). He told Peter to look after his followers. Peter obeyed this command. Soon after this, he became a leader of the disciples and of the church in Jerusalem. Peter said that he loved Jesus. Then Peter obeyed Jesus to show that he really meant this. If we really love Jesus, we will obey him, too.

Jesus used two different Greek words for the word that we translate as ‘love’ in this passage. In verses 15 and 16, Jesus used a form of the word ‘agape’. This refers to love that is completely unselfish. It means to love without a thought about our own desires. It means to love without a desire to receive any reward. ‘Agape’ describes the kind of love that God has for us. ‘Agape’ is the word that John used in John 3:16.

But the three times that Peter answered Jesus, he (Peter) used the Greek word ‘phileo’. This refers to the kind of love that friends have. It means to care for somebody. It is a weaker kind of love than ‘agape’. Perhaps Peter felt that he was not yet ready to declare that kind of ‘agape’ love for Jesus. Once, Peter had said that he would die on behalf of Jesus (John 14:37-38). Perhaps Peter was remembering how, instead, he had lied to protect himself. In verse 17, Jesus used the word ‘phileo’, too. Perhaps he was saying, ‘Are you even my friend?’ Perhaps that was what upset Peter.

But Peter knew that Jesus did not really have to ask these questions. Jesus already knew how Peter felt. Jesus knows how we feel, too. He knows how much we love him. But still he wants us to tell him. Perhaps we feel that our love for him is too weak. We can never love him as much as he loves us. If we ask, he will increase our love for him. But we must spend more time with him. We must worship him, alone and with other Christians. We must learn more about him from the Bible. We must pray often. Then we will realize that our love for him is increasing. We will know him more. Our love for him will increase every day of our lives, if we let this happen.

Items for Discussion

  • Why is Jesus the perfect shepherd?
  • Why was it so important to Jesus to make sure that Peter knew he was forgiven?
  • Jesus uses “agape” to describe the love he wants from Peter but Peter responds with “phileo” love. Why is it so important to understand the difference?
  • How does love grow between people?
  • How is the love Jesus calls for that of a shepherd and why will the love of a “friend” fall short?
  • How can we use these Biblical stories to help us when we are asked to choose people as friends, partners, leaders, etc.?

Discussion Challenge

  • What should the role of today’s Christian Church be in teaching people how to love each other?