For a moment, it seemed as if Samuelís visit to Bethlehem had failed to achieve its purpose. God had sent him there to appoint one of Jesseís sons to be Israelís next king. However, Samuel had now met each of Jesseís 7 sons. God had clearly told Samuel that he had not chosen any of them.
Samuel was sure that God had sent him to Bethlehem for that purpose. So he carefully asked Jesse whether he had any other sons.
Jesseís youngest boy was looking after the familyís sheep. The boy remained with the sheep as he guarded them from wild animals (17:34-36). He led the sheep to the places where they could find food and water (Psalm 23). So, he could have gone a long way from home, and sometimes he might be away for several days.
In ancient Israel, people usually gave the greatest honour to a fatherís first son. That son would become the head of the family after his fatherís death. He would become one of the elders (leaders) of his town, and all his brothers would have to respect his decisions.
On the other hand, the youngest son in a family did not seem important. Jesseís sons did not respect their youngest brother (17:28).
Godís opinion about a person is different from the opinions that other people may have about that person (16:7). God had sent Samuel to Bethlehem to appoint one of Jesseís sons to be king. So, Samuel could not allow the meal to begin until that son was present.
Everyone, even Samuel and Bethlehemís elders, would have to wait until that youngest son had returned.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.