22. “The Lord Looketh on the Heart”

The Lord looks into our hearts and souls to see our willingness and trust in him, and when we in turn realize the strength we have when we act with his authority, we can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

“1 Samuel 1–15: The Prophet Samuel and Saul, King of Israel,” LDS Old Testament Student Manual, LDS.org
This chapter gives an overview of all these chapters with commentary, for example: “At this critical time [when some Israelites were under attack in 1 Samuel 11] Saul was at his finest. He slew his oxen and sent the pieces thereof to every tribe to dramatize that this crisis called for a united Israel (see v. 7). He joined his authority with that of Samuel in the message. Under this leadership, the armies of Israel dealt a stunning defeat to the Ammonites, and Saul gave all credit to the Lord (see v. 13). The victory provided the catalyst for uniting the tribes into one nation for the first time.”

“1 Samuel 16–31: King David’s Call to Lead Israel,” LDS Old Testament Institute Manual, LDS.org
An overview of chapters with commentary, such as: “The story of David and Goliath is so well known that some readers take David’s courage for granted. But his courage was not born of self–confidence alone, although he did believe in his own skills in battle. As a young shepherd, he had much practice at slinging stones. It was an effective way both to keep wolves and other vicious animals away from the sheep and to attract the attention of straying sheep and drive them back to pasture. As a result of his experience, David had confidence in his skills, but the true source of his courage was faith in the power of the living God.”

“Biblical Style and Western Literature,” Herbert N. Schneidau, Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, BYU Religious Studies Center
On God’s opposition to kings leading his people: “In any case, the tradition is clear that would indicate powerful religious opposition to dynastic kingship. That is the major reason why the acts of Samuel, Saul, and David must be so scrupulously recorded and interpreted. Parts of this story were undoubtedly written down in the belief that in allowing David to succeed where Saul failed, Yahweh was validating and endorsing the monarchy. But other parts, such as 1 Samuel 8, were written to show that in allowing a king Yahweh was simply giving the people enough rope to hang themselves.”

“The Tragic Dimensions of Saul,” Richard G. Ellsworth, Ensign, June 1990
“Saul’s tragic flaw was pride, often manifested as a fear of criticism and a love of popular approval. This flaw resulted in a tendency to make significant errors in judgment that consistently resulted in complication and misfortune. But Saul also had great strength and courage. Faced with God’s condemnation, Saul did not duck or hide but turned toward his future with violent and almost foolhardy bravery, yet without repentance, and determined to fight the Lord’s condemnation.”

“Meeting Your Goliath,” Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, January 1987
“There was one, however, who did not quake with fear nor run in alarm. Rather, he stiffened the spine of Israel’s soldiers by his piercing question of rebuke toward them: ‘Is there not a cause? … Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:19, 32.) David, the shepherd boy, had spoken. But he did not speak just as a shepherd boy. For the hands of the prophet Samuel had rested upon his head and anointed him; and the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him.”