2364) Old News (part one of two)

A Message to the “Values Voter” on Election Day – Christian ...

Every four years we have to endure a whole year (and more) of presidential election news, commentary, and political ads.  This year, the news has been dominated by even more unpleasant issues with the ongoing pandemic and riot coverage.  But we will all still have to hold our noses and vote again in November.  Christians are sharply divided on the candidates, as is the entire nation.  Can we find any guidance in the Bible as to how we should cast out ballot?  Well, maybe we can and maybe we can’t, depending on what kind of guidance you are looking for.  The following is from a sermon I gave during the presidential election of 2008.  We  have different candidates this year, but the approach to using the Bible here described might still be of some use.


I Samuel 16:1-13a  —  The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.  I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

But Samuel said, “How can I go?  If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the Lord said.  When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him.  They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.  Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.”  Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel.  But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”  Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”  Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”  So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

So he sent for him and had him brought in.  He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.


     I want to talk this morning about how to use the Bible in our everyday life.  First, I am going to be a little bit silly.  Then, I will make a more serious application.

     Let’s begin by applying the Bible in a very specific way, and on a very current issue.  I will do for you a little Bible study to help you decide who to support for president this year.  This might be a little premature because neither party has officially nominated their candidate yet, but the field has pretty well been narrowed down to three.  John McCain will almost certainly be the Republican nominee, and Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are the only two left standing in what had been a very large field of Democratic candidates.

     The passage of the Bible I want to study with you as our guide into this question is I Samuel 16:1-13.  This little story not about a presidential election, but it is about a change in leadership in the ancient nation of Israel.  God was no longer happy with the nation’s current King, King Saul, so God began the process of selecting a new leader.  That is the process that we as a nation are engaged in right now in this 2008 election year.  Israel in 1000 B.C, did not have national elections like we do, so the situation was different.  The new national leader was selected by God Himself.  Perhaps we can learn much by looking at the kind of leader God selects, and applying that to our own situation.

     The leader God selected went on to become the greatest king in all of Israel’s history.  David had his problems and made his mistakes.  But under King David’s leadership Israel became a great nation, defeated its enemies, consolidated its borders, established Jerusalem as its capital, and, for the most part, enjoyed peace and prosperity.  God made an excellent selection when he chose David.  Therefore, let’s take a look at this year’s presidential candidates in light of this great leader of ancient times.

     Let’s begin with Barack Obama.  He is the youngest of the candidates, and his youthfulness is attractive to many voters.  David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse, so young, in fact, that Jesse brought him out only as an afterthought; only after Samuel did not find what he was looking for in the first seven.  Obama, if elected, would be one of the youngest to serve as our nation’s president, but he is already probably thirty years older than David when God selected him.  So youth need not be a problem.  Some worry about Obama’s lack of experience.  But at this point in David’s life, he would have had only ‘shepherd boy’ on his resume, and it wasn’t even his own sheep.  He was still working for his father.  David had no experience in leading anything but a flock of sheep.  Barack Obama looks a little bit like David in the text, and the young David was God’s selection.

     Next, let’s look at John McCain in light of David.  David, at this point in his life, did not have any experience; but he did not yet take over the nation.  In fact, he would not become ruler until Saul’s death some twenty years later.  In those two decades, David would gain a great deal of experience as a soldier who became known for his great perseverance, loyalty, and courage.  That part of the picture of King David looks much like John McCain, who served with distinction and courage in Vietnam, and who, like David when he finally became king, had built up a long record of public service.  So, John McCain also looks a bit like King David in the story.  (continued…)