The Lord chooses David of Bethlehem, a young shepherd boy, to succeed Saul as king. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” David is anointed by Samuel. The Holy Spirit departs from Saul, and an evil spirit takes possession of him (note that the Joseph Smith Translation corrects verses 14–16 and 23 to show that the evil spirit was not from God). Saul chooses David to play the harp for him and to be his armor bearer.
1 Samuel 16:1–23
1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.
3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.
4 And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.
17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.
19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
20 And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.
21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“About 3,000 years ago when the king of Israel was Saul, and he proved himself unworthy of his high position, the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to find a successor for him. The prophet went to the home of Jesse, the father of eight sons. He called Jesse’s sons to him to interview them. When the proud father brought Eliab, the older son, he said to himself, ‘Surely this is the man.’
“‘But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).
“Then the proud father called a second, and he was not accepted. Seven fine, handsome sons came one after the other before the prophet Samuel, who said to the father, Jesse, ‘Are these all thy children?’ And then Jesse admitted, ‘Yes, except the youngest, David, and he is out with the sheep.’ And Samuel said, ‘Go fetch him’ (see 1 Samuel 16:11).
“Now when the youngest son came in, he was ruddy and handsome and a delightful personality, and perhaps sunburned, for he was the shepherd and spent much of his time out in the open with the sheep. The Lord inspired Samuel and he said, ‘This is he’ (1 Samuel 16:12). And as the father and the sons gathered around him, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David to become the king of Israel.”
(“The Davids and the Goliaths,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 80.)