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.” … 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?” 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. When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed stands here before the LORD.” 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 man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” 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 upon David in power.
1 Samuel 16:1,4-13
God doesn’t choose people the way that we do. In today’s reading, Israel needed a new king anointed from the family of Jesse, and it was Samuel’s job to anoint him. Samuel was sure it was going to be one of Jesse’s most kingly-looking sons. Son after son was brought before Samuel. Each one looked like a possible candidate, but the LORD rejected them all. Did Jesse have another son? He did. Little David, the youngest boy, was out tending the sheep. When they brought him in, the LORD made it clear to Samuel: David was the one.
A thousand years later, David’s descendant Jesus was born. And just like David, Jesus wasn’t anything like the kind of king people were looking for. Many rejected Jesus immediately because of his lowly status. Others followed him for a little while, until they found out what he was about. He wasn’t here to defeat their political enemies. He was here to suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. None of us would ever have picked a king like this. But God did. At Jesus’ baptism, God made his choice known to all the world: “This is my Son whom I love.” (See Luke 3:21,22.)
Jesus is the reason God chooses sinners like you and me. He doesn’t choose us because of anything good in us. We know how far we often fall from our own standards, much less his. God chooses sinners purely out of love and mercy.
As David was anointed king, as Jesus was anointed Savior, so also, we sinners are anointed to be God’s children. In Baptism, God takes what he did for the whole world at the cross of Jesus, and he makes it personal. He singles you out. He comes to you with his forgiveness, not just forgiveness for the sinfulness you were born with, but forgiveness for all sins, even the ones you haven’t committed yet. Are you baptized? Then you don’t have to wait for a day of forgiveness to come. That day has already come. Your sins were forgiven at your baptism, through faith in Jesus, your Savior.
Dear Jesus, whenever I wonder how someone like God could love someone like me, help me to remember the grace and mercy there is to be found in God’s gift of Baptism. Amen
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