Discovery for Students



1 Samuel 16:1 through 31:13

“And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:14)


Because of Saul’s disobedience to God’s clear commandments, and his subsequent lying about what he had done, God had rejected him from being king. Saul was still on the throne, but yet was unfit to lead the nation. For this reason, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king in Saul’s place.

Chapter 16 begins with Samuel anointing David to the throne. The narrative stresses that both Samuel and Jesse, David’s father, assumed that one of David’s older brothers would be chosen. However, the selection fell outside of human expectations. The Lord had chosen David in advance, and then confirmed His choice by sending His Spirit on David.

David’s confidence in God is apparent in his contest with the Philistine giant, Goliath. Armies of that day commonly pitted their strongest warriors against each other in order to avoid the high cost of a full-scale battle. After a forty-day standoff, in which no Israelite soldier dared to confront the champion of the Philistines, the youthful shepherd volunteered to face Goliath in a battle to the death. Fully trusting in God for victory, he faced the giant and felled him with a single stone. Realizing that their hero was dead, the Philistine forces retreated, followed in close pursuit by the Israelites, and a great victory was won.

As David rose in popularity as a hero among the people, Saul’s fits of insane jealousy produced a hatred for David that consumed him. Saul sought to put David deliberately in a position where he would be killed in battle, but those attempts failed. David ended up marrying the king’s daughter, Michal, and developing a deep bond of friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan — in spite of the fact that Jonathan would have been the natural heir to the throne. Saul’s initial assassination attempts having been thwarted, the erring king took more overt measures and attempted to use his slaves, his oldest son, his soldiers, and his own efforts to kill David. However, God repeatedly and miraculously intervened to protect His chosen leader.

Chapters 21 and 22 record the beginning of David’s life as a fugitive. A group of Israelite men joined him, and God repeatedly helped David escape Saul’s men. Twice, when opportunity arose for David to kill Saul, he refused to do so because Saul was God’s anointed leader over Israel. At last, convinced that David had no intentions of killing him, King Saul acknowledged his own wrongdoing and ceased his attempts to kill David.

When the Philistine troops gathered to fight against Israel, Saul responded by leading his army toward the battle. However, he sought insight from a witch regarding the battle — a practice strictly forbidden in God’s law. In the end, Saul’s sin drove him to suicide, and his sons were killed in battle.

The events in this text block cover a period of at least ten years, for David was not quite old enough to go to war when he was anointed by Samuel, and he was thirty when he ascended the throne of Judah (see 2 Samuel 5:4).


  1. The Lord commanded Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be Israel’s next king (1 Samuel 16). What characteristics did Samuel use to evaluate Jesse’s sons? What did the Lord use?
  2. What kind of a person was David? Look up the following Scriptures and write a brief review on the character of David.

    1 Samuel 16:18

    1 Samuel 17:20, 26, 32-37, 45-47

    1 Samuel 18:14, 22-23

    1 Samuel 23:1-5

    1 Samuel 24:1-11; 26:6-12

    1 Samuel 29:3
  3. Using the Scriptures in the previous question, along with the description of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4-10,42-44, contrast David and Goliath.
  4. What was the secret of David’s success in battle (1 Samuel 23:1-5)? How can we, as Christians, possess the same kind of confidence and courage?
  5. Jonathan, next in line for the throne of Israel, acknowledged David’s divine appointment when he gave David his royal robes and weapons. What qualities stand out in Jonathan’s character? 1 Samuel 19:2-7; 20:1-42
  6. Jonathan secretly communicated Saul’s murderous designs to David, and as a result, he suffered the wrath of his insanely jealous father. What are some possible results when we take a stand for what is right?
  7. David had several opportunities to take matters into his own hands (chapters 24-26). How did David “behave himself wisely?”
  8. How did David demonstrate his faith and trust in God? 1 Samuel 22:5; 23:2
  9. What was David’s attitude when Abigail confronted him and prevented him from acting rashly and unwisely (1 Samuel 25)? Name three things we can learn from his response.


Despite the trials and difficulties brought on by Saul’s persecution, David behaved himself wisely and trusted the Lord. Let us follow his example and trust the Lord in every circumstance, seek His guidance, and behave ourselves wisely in this present, evil world.