Samuel already knew that God would give Israel a new and better king, to replace King Saul (15:28). That was wonderful news, although Samuel did not yet realise it. He still felt deeply sad about Saulís decision not to obey God, and his wicked behaviour.
However, God told Samuel that he must prepare for a joyful event. God was sending Samuel to a little town called Bethlehem. There lived a man called Jesse, who had 8 sons. God had chosen one of those sons to be Israelís king. God did not yet tell Samuel the name of that particular son.
Jesse himself was probably not well-known. He belonged to the tribe (group of families) of Judah. In Genesis 49:10, God promised that Judahís family would rule Israel. Jesseís grandfather was Boaz and his grandmother was a foreign woman called Ruth. You can read about their marriage in the Book of Ruth.
God told Samuel to fill his horn with oil. The horn is the bony point that grows on the head of many animals, for example, bulls. People sometimes carried liquids, especially oil, in the hollow centre of a horn. The oil came from the fruit of the tree called the olive.
The ceremony to appoint the king is the same as 1 Samuel 10:1 describes. Samuel would anoint (pour oil upon) the head of the new king. That action showed that Godís Holy Spirit was coming upon the new king. The effect was to separate him from other people in order to carry out his special work for God.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.