The Transfer Of Power From Saul To David In 1 Sam 16:13-14 -- By: David M. Howard, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 032:4 (Dec 1989)
Article: The Transfer Of Power From Saul To David In 1 Sam 16:13-14
Author: David M. Howard, Jr.


The Transfer Of Power From Saul To David In 1 Sam 16:13-14

David M. Howard, Jr.*

The two verses found at 1 Sam 16:13–14 are relevant to at least two issues that are much discussed in OT studies. First and most obviously are the questions of the Spirit of YHWH and the evil spirit from YHWH. Much effort has gone into understanding the nature of both of these and their relationships to the humans they came upon.1 A second issue—although not one that the passage specifically addresses—is that of the monarchy in Israel, among the most-discussed aspects of which is the question of whether God was in favor of its establishment.2

The issue more directly faced here is that of the transfer of power from Israel’s first king, Saul, who had forfeited his kingship, to Israel’s second kind, David, who would become the standard for succeeding generations. This issue is the subject of most of 1 Samuel 13–31 in both its political and spiritual dimensions, but in these two verses the emphasis is upon the movements of the spirits and of Samuel, and they serve to emphasize and symbolize this transfer of power.

This paper is concerned with these movements and their interrelationships. The favor with which YHWH looked upon David, and his rejection

* David Howard is associate professor of Old Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

of Saul, are captured dramatically in the movements in these two verses. The spiritual transfer of power here is symbolic of the more visible political transfer of power that eventuated.

Before proceeding we must note that these verses are by no means a self-contained text. They occur on either side of a major juncture within the book of 1 Samuel: 1 Sam 16:1–13 contains the story of David’s discovery and anointing by Samuel, while 16:14–23 tells of the beginning of Saul’s tormented life and the introduction of David into Saul’s court.

Nevertheless we can see several important relationships between these two verses, based upon the movements of the characters—relationships that help to bridge the gap between the two blocks of material of which they are parts and to highlight the transfer of spiritual and political power from Saul to David. The four movements to be considered are (1) the coming of the Spirit of YHWH upon David, (2) Samuel’s departure from Dav...

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