Old Testament

1 Samuel 16
David Is Chosen as King
161The 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 go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I see a king for myself among his sons.”
2Samuel 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.’ 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will let you know what you are to do. You are to anoint for me the person that I point out to you.”
4So Samuel did what the Lord had told him to do and went to Bethlehem. Trembling with fear, the elders of the city came to meet him. They said, “Do you come in peace?”
5He said, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” He consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6When they had come, he looked at Eliab and said, “Certainly this is the Lord's anointed.”
7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at how tall he is, because I have rejected him. For the Lord does not look at things the way man does. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
9Then Jesse had Shammah pass by. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
10Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel. Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11Samuel said to Jesse, “Is that all of the young men?”
Jesse said, “There still is the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him, for we cannot sit down to eat until he comes.”
12He sent for him and brought him in. David had red hair[] and striking eyes, and was good-looking. The Lord said, “Get up! Anoint him, because this is the one.”
13So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. The Spirit of the Lord rushed on David with power from that day forward. After that Samuel set out and returned to Ramah.
David and Saul Meet
14The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil[] spirit from the Lord tormented him.
15So Saul's servants said to him, “Please listen to us. An evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Our lord, please command your servants who are here with you to seek out a man who is skilled at playing the lyre. Then when the evil spirit from God is on you, he will play the lyre,[] and you will feel better.”
17So Saul said to his servants, “Find a man who can play well and bring him to me.”
18Then one of the young attendants replied, “As a matter of fact, I have seen a son of Jesse from Bethlehem who is a skillful player. He is a strong, brave man, fit for war. He shows good judgment in what he says and is a handsome man. And the Lord is with him.”
19So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”
20Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a container of wine, and a young goat, and he sent them with his son David to Saul. 21David came to Saul and stood before him. Saul loved him, and David became his armor bearer. 22So Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Permit David to remain and serve me, for I am very pleased with him.” 23Whenever the spirit from God came over Saul, David would take the lyre in his hand and play. So Saul would be soothed and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.


  • 16:12 Or a reddish complexion. The Hebrew word simply means red-colored.
  • 16:14 Or harmful. God permitted an evil spirit to afflict Saul as he permitted Satan to attack Job.
  • 16:16 Literally play the lyre by hand. By hand may be a technical term for David's style of playing, that is, he played without a pick or striker. Most translations omit the term by hand.