This crucial passage plays a key role in the narrative. Its pivotal position as the central chapter in 1 Samuel suggests a number of corollaries:
- The story is framed by Samuel’s “horn of oil” used to anoint Second king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More (vv. 1, 13).
- Following the anointing, David receives the “spirit of the LORD” (v. 13).
- The next verse states that the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and was replaced by an evil spirit from the Lord, which tormented him (v. 14).
- From this point on, David will be the central character in the story, not The judge who anointed the first two kings of Israel More or The first king of Israel More.
- Thus, this chapter marks the transition from Saul to David, even though David will not become king for many chapters.
The elaborate process by which David is anointed–the procession of Jesse’s seven sons before Samuel–serves to build dramatic tension as each of the sons is rejected. The suspense is relieved upon hearing of Jesse’s youngest son, though we do not hear his name until after the anointing. There is, however, a more important reason for its inclusion. The process also serves to emphasize that David will be king solely because of God’s choice: God provided David (v. 1) and indicated (“named” in NRSV) that David was the one (vv. 3, 12), in addition to rejecting Jesse’s other sons (vv. 7-10).
God’s choice of the youngest son is also theologically significant. In addition to being another of the “reversals” introduced in Hannah’s song (chapter 2), this counterintuitive move is an Old Testament staple. Seth over Cain (who had murdered Abel), Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, Moses over Aaron, and Solomon over Adonijah, are just a few of the most important instances of younger sons whom God chooses to use. When this is coupled with the insight that God uses what is weak, and whose power is made perfect in weakness, as well (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10), the connections to Jesus the “Christ” (Greek for “The Messiah was the one who, it was believed, would come to free the people of Israel from bondage and exile. In Jewish thought the Messiah is the anticipated one who will come, as prophesied by Isaiah. In Christian thought Jesus of Nazareth is identified... More” or “anointed one”) become clear.