These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

David Anointed King – 1 Samuel 16 Inductive Bible Study


I. God commands Samuel to anoint a new king (1-3)
II. Samuel arrives in the city (4-5)
    A. Plans the sacrifice (5)
III. Samuel chooses whom to anoint (6-13)
    A. God stresses the heart (6-7)
    B. God rejects the older ones (8-10)
    C. God chooses the youngest, David (11-13)
IV. David is brought to serve at Saul’s court (14-23)
    A. An evil spirit terrorizes Saul (14-15)
    B. Saul’s servants suggest getting a harpist (16-17)
    C. David is sent for (18-19)
    D. David comes with gifts (20)
    E. David pleases Saul (21-23)

Discussion Questions

  • What can we learn from the Lord’s question to Samuel, “how long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?”
  • Were Samuel’s fears justified?
  • Does God suggest that Samuel use deception to keep Saul from hurting him?
  • How do you know?
  • Is it right to use deception? Is it right to compromise in order to keep from being persecuted?
  • Why did Samuel think that Eliab was the one?
  • What was his criteria?
  • What is God’s criteria/what does he look at?
  • What are some common ways people fall into the trap of looking at someone’s appearance?
  • What are some ways you may be guilty of looking at the outside?
  • What should you do when you are tempted to focus on someone’s appearance instead of their heart?
  • How can we know what is in other’s hearts?
  • Do you ever attempt to give off a good appearance, even when your heart might not be right before God? Why?
  • Does that mean you should immediately speak out whatever feelings or thoughts you have in your heart? Why or why not?
  • So what is the balance? How can this problem be solved?
  • What are some other Scriptures that deal with these questions?
  • Why do think God often gives the place of honor to and chooses the younger over the older?
  • How and why did David end up at Saul’s court?
  • What do you make of the phrase, “an evil spirit from the Lord?”
  • Do evil spirits come from God?

Observations –

God commands Samuel to anoint a new king (1-3) –

It seems like that God is telling Samuel to forget the old and push on towards the new. Instead of living in the past he should work for the future. God had rejected Saul from being king and wanted to anoint a new king, this time from Bethlehem in Judah. This new king, and ultimately the Messiah, would come from Judah, just as was prophesied numerous times (Genesis 49:10).

Samuel seems to feel that Saul was his mistake (to be clear this was God’s plan and thus Samuel can not be blamed) and that he was responsible for Saul’s failures. Saul’s disobedience truly disturbs Samuel, who is discouraged and perhaps even depressed about it. But God tells him that now is not the time to live in the past. It is time to move forward and solve this issue.

Application: If you have made a mistake do not allow that to keep you down. Also, do not allow the failures of those around to keep you down. While we should not be apathetic about these things, neither should we allow our own work and ministry to be stopped if we become discouraged by them.

Samuel was worried about Saul. He thought that if Saul heard he was going to anoint another king that he would kill Samuel. God told him to take a sacrifice and go to sacrifice in Bethlehem. Was this suggesting Samuel do something deceptive? We know God does not lie and deception is kin to lying. “Deceptive” and “deception” appear 37 times in the Bible and all are in a negative context. God will not do or suggest that anyone else do anything deceptive. I think He was giving Samuel a legitimate reason to go to Bethlehem, not so that Samuel would lie about why he was there, but so that it would offer protection if he was caught.  One could say that Samuel was following Scripture’s mandate to be “wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.”

What principles can we learn from this? Firstly, this does not teach us to be deceptive. One principle of biblical interpretation is to interpret narrative passages by other Scripture, especially didactic. However, this command by God does seem to show that it is legitimate for missionaries to take jobs or other ways to offer protection to themselves and give themselves a reason to be in the country. What do you guys think?

Notice also that Samuel does not allow his fear of Saul to cripple him. He is afraid. This is a natural reaction to the situation. But the fear does not keep him from obeying God. Rather the fear drives him to seek God’s help and wisdom. We see this same lesson in Ezra 3:3 where the people are afraid of the peoples of the land and this drives them to build an altar to the Lord.

Samuel arrives in the city (4-5)

They were perhaps worried that the judge was coming on a mission of judgment, not blessing. Samuel was clearly not a person who went around and tickled people’s ears. He was a truth speaker. When people needed to be rebuked, he rebuked them. Whatever message God gave him that is the message he took to the people. In this case though he came in “peace” and not with a message of judgment.

Samuel chooses whom to anoint (6-13)

Samuel saw Eliab and was really impressed with his appearance, thinking God must have chosen this one. This shows how deeply ingrained it is for people, even strong believers, to look at the outside. Saul was really handsome and Samuel knew he was corrupt. If anyone should have known not to look at the outside it was Samuel, but he still made this mistake. In the key verse for this week’s study, God tells Samuel very clearly that human’s methods of examining others are flawed and that the heart is what is important and what He looks at.

We often make this same mistake. Guys, even Christian ones, choose girl friends based on their looks, or at least let this fact influence them heavily. We make friends with those who are popular. We are drawn to people who have a tidy appearance and confident personality. I know people who were influenced to vote for Bill Clinton because of his hairstyle! This is a prime example. Clinton was completely devoid of morals, but because he was a good speaker and had a smooth personality America, and the world, loved him. We are immediately repelled by people and look down on them if they are dirty or unkempt. James talks about showing partiality to the pour. It is a serious issue.

How can we know what is in other’s hearts? First, don’t be deceived by appearance. It might not mean anything. We need to compare their words and actions to the Bible. We need to look at how they act in all kinds of situations. We need to see if they are obedient to God. People can deceive others for a while, but probably not forever. In the end we cannot see others’ hearts 100% so we need to rely on God and the Holy Spirit even more for guidance.

Another aspect of this issue is focused on ourselves. Do we attempt to give others a good impression? Do we display a façade? We are called to walk in the light, as He is in the light. We are not to cover up our sins. We are not to live with vile hearts, but good outward rituals, like the Pharisees. We might be able to deceive people, but we can’t deceive God. Therefore we need to be extremely careful that our hearts are clean, pure, and righteous before God. The first step is to be washed with His regeneration (Titus 3:5). See Colossians 3:12-16 for a reminder about how important the heart is.

Also we need to let Him refine and shape us. He does this through the Word, through people, and through persecution. We need to be careful what we put into our hearts. If we allow evil to go in, it will eventually go out. We need to control what goes in our ears and our eyes. We need to control our minds and what we think about.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The Pharisees were condemned extremely harshly by Jesus because of their hypocrisy. What about you (and me)? Are we being a hypocrite? Do you do nice things to get attention from others? Let us not only realize that we can’t judge people based on their physical appearance, but that we need to be pure in our hearts as well.

After rejecting all of David’s older brothers, God chose him to be the next king. He was younger, less experienced, and probably weaker. Yet this seems to be a recurring storyline throughout the Bible. He often chooses the young and the weak to serve Him. Why? Wouldn’t the older and stronger be able to serve Him better? I believe there are two reasons why God does this. The first is because He doesn’t need any of us. It doesn’t matter if we are old or strong or young and weak because God can use both just as effectively. The reason is because it is completely God’s work and none of the credit goes to us (Psalms 50:7-15). By choosing the young God gets the glory He deserves.

Secondly, it is a biblical principle that the first shall be last and the last first. The fact that God often chooses the younger is a visible picture of this. Also, it might be related to the fact that the younger are generally more humble. What can we learn from this? Don’t be discouraged if you have less money than others, if you have less education, if you are weaker, if you are younger, or for any other reason (1 Timothy 4:12). God can and does use anyone. If anything your weakness, will be even more reason for God to use you! Recognize it, praise Him for it, and commit yourself to serve Him without using your age or anything else as an excuse for not serving Him completely! Oh, and David was good looking. Just because someone is good looking doesn’t mean that God won’t use them.

Application: Do not use your age or inexperience as an excuse for not serving God. Do not say “when I grow up” or “when I become more mature” then I will serve God. God used David who was the very youngest member of his family. The disciples were mostly uneducated. God used them. God can use you. The most important question is your faithfulness. Are you willing to be used by God?

David is brought to serve at Saul’s court (14-23)

The Spirit of the Lord left Saul at approximately the same time it came upon David. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was active. He didn’t only become active after Pentecost. However, before Pentecost the Holy Spirit did not indwell people permanently. His presence came and went, sometimes longer than others. He empowered people with God’s power, yet did not promise to indwell permanently (1 Corinthians 3:16). Also, He did empower Saul so it is clear that He didn’t only empower believers, but also unbelievers, all for the purpose of doing God’s will on earth. This is evidence to God’s sovereignty. He even empowers unbelievers to do His will. This is one great advantage that we have compared with Saints in the Old Testament. And this is why Jesus said it would be to our advantage if He left so that the Helper could come (John 16:7).

An evil spirit from the Lord was sent to torment Saul. We know from Job 1 that even evil spirits have to submit to God’s direct instruct and need His permission in order to carry out some acts. In this case, in God’s sovereignty He used an evil spirit for “His purpose of establishing the throne of David” (MacArthur). A similar thing happens in Judges 9:23, where God sends an evil spirit to create conflict between two groups, for the purpose of punishing one of those groups. This is more evidence of God’s sovereignty and providence. He can use anything and control it to bring about His desired plan. Saul disobeyed God and because of this lost God’s blessing and incurred His curse. If He had obeyed and followed God it never would have happened. Anytime we reject God and follow our own course we open ourselves up to evil influences and to Satan’s control. There are only two masters in the world and none of us are one of them. Do not deceive yourself. You can’t control your own life. Either surrender it up to God’s control or you will enter Satan’s domain and be under his.

God used this to bring David to Saul’s court. From there he could gain experience that would be vital in serving as king. Also he would be in a position where he could advance and begin to gain the respect of the people. Even though David was anointed as the next king, it doesn’t look like he spoke of it, flaunted it, or tried to “help” God bring it about. He did not apply for the job at Saul’s court. He did not need to. God found David when he was in the fields watching over the sheep. God had David’s back. He would finish the plan which He started. As we study the life of David over the next few weeks, we will see this principle again and again. God had a plan for David. He did not need David’s help to accomplish it. And David never took matters into his own hands. He exercised patience by serving Saul and simply waiting for God to bring about what He had promised. How could he do that? Faith. Do you have faith like David in God’s promises for you?


  • Proverbs 30:8 – Keep deception and lies far from me.
  • Proverbs 24:28 – Do not deceive with your lips
  • Luke 16:15 – People try to justify themselves in front of others, but the things in their heart are de