Memorial of the Jesuit Martyrs of Europe

When told by God to go anoint a new king, Samuel thought that would be dangerous, but he does it anyway. “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” […] Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him. (1 Sm 16:2-4) That’s the kind of guy Samuel is. Why? Because he has been doing what the Lord commanded ever since he said as a little boy, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Sm 3:10)

Yet we get even more of a window into Samuel’s character. When sent by the Lord to anoint a new king, he spots the real kingly looking son of Jesse and thinks, ‘that’s the one…’ However, because of his habit of listening to the Lord, he is able to hear that he is wrong, and that the Lord is not going to pick the ruler according to Samuel’s criteria. More importantly, when Samuel looks at each of the other sons, he doesn’t anoint until he has heard from the Lord who He has chosen. When he doesn’t hear, he keeps listening. And when he sees scrawny little David, despite how the kid looks to him, Samuel listens to the Lord. And his habit of listening pays off, the Lord makes His decision quite clear. “There–anoint him, for this is he” (1 Sm 16:12)

Lastly, after Samuel anoints, he then goes home. That’s all the Lord said to do. “Do whatever he tells you” Maybe it seemed pointless to anoint a child as king. David did not take the throne right then. The Lord would turn that water into wine in His own time. God’s logic is made clear in the words of today’s psalm. “Over the people I have set a youth.” (Ps 89:20) Why? Because that youth knew how to pray. “He shall cry to me, ‘You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior.’” (Ps 89:27) Scrawny David knew that he was entirely dependent on God. The tall and strong Saul was a little too full of himself, and didn’t leave room in there for God. It turns out that prayerful Samuel did the only sane, rational thing to do: he put aside his preconceptions, and listened to the all wise and all loving God.

January 19th, 2016