In 1 Samuel 16, the ideal man is presented.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.
Is Saul the “ideal man?” He is tall, dark, and handsome. He is wealthy and powerful. Saul is the king who walks with a swagger and is to be feared. However, by the end of this chapter he is presented in a very pathetic light. Despite his external beauty, Saul is one dethroned by God, despised by God’s prophet, devoid of God’s spirit, and demonically oppressed. Yes, for a season, Saul looks like the “ideal man,” but in the end he proves to be quite a miserable spectacle.
Could the “ideal man” be Jesse’s eldest son? At first, Samuel reasons he is “the man.” He too is tall and good looking. However, God, who looks well beyond external characteristics and sees the heart, declares him to be rejected. This cycle is then repeated with each of Jesse’s next nine sons. Clearly, there is more to the “ideal man” than meets the eye.
Well, is it Samuel? I think we are getting closer. From a young man until now, his legacy is pretty sharp. He has proven to be an individual who loves God, loves God’s people, and is willing to obey despite his fears. Spiritually, he stands head and shoulders above Eli, Hophni, Phinehas, and Saul. However, even in this chapter he is proven to be wrong in his grief, wrong in his fear, and wrong in his discernment. And later, he will be proven to be a failure in the raising of his own children. Yes, Samuel is a godly fellow. Samuel is an obedient worshiper. Samuel is one worthy of emulation in quite a few way, but Samuel is not the “ideal man.”
Then it must be David, right? David is very, very, very close to being the “ideal man,” at least in this chapter. One ought to consider that which can be learned from just these few verses. God sees David’s heart, and it is declared acceptable. David is a working shepherd who is humble and industrious. He is a skilled musician and a man of courageous character. He is both a “man of war” and a prudent speaker. He is one easy to be around, and his reputation is stellar. And though he is one called to greatness by God’s prophet, he is willing to bow the knee and patiently minister for God at the feet of a corrupt, demon-possessed master. But most importantly, God is with David, and people recognize this glorious fact. Yes, from the perspective of this chapter, David is very close to being the “ideal man,” but some years later he will prove to be very fallible.
So, who is the ideal man? Friends, it is the perfect, future man typified by Saul, Samuel, and David. The ideal man is Jesus Christ who has all the best traits of these three individuals combined.
- Jesus Christ is the son with a beautiful heart.
- Jesus Christ is the prophet who perfectly discerns God’s will.
- Jesus Christ is the prophet who perfectly communicates; he speaks like none other.
- Jesus Christ is the priest who acceptably leads in worship — sacrifice, feast, song.
- Jesus Christ is the king overlooked and despised by many.
- Jesus Christ is the king anointed and preferred by God. (Messiah)
- Jesus Christ is the shepherd of sheep.
- Jesus Christ is the servant of God.
- Jesus Christ is the servant of sinners.
- Jesus Christ is the man of valor and of war.
- Jesus Christ is the one in whom the Spirit dwells without measure.
- Jesus Christ is the one — the only one — who never fails.
- Jesus Christ is the “ideal man.”
Friends, let us be wary of over-valuing those who are externally outstanding. This advise might especially be important in this day and age of choosing elected officials.
In addition, let us be very careful of over-honoring and over-trusting those who are both externally and internally beautiful. Even the best of God’s redeemed and converted servants are still sinful wretches whose sin will be exposed from time to time. Our bible is full of heroes, whom we would love to trust, proving themselves to be untrustworthy. (I.e. Abraham, Samson, Solomon, Peter ….)
Instead, let us keep our eyes and our focus upon Jesus. He is the only one who should be worshiped and adored. He is our model. He is our helper. It is his image alone that is acceptable. It is after his image that we are being remade. One day we will be just like him. Anything less is unacceptable and putrid in the sight of God. Jesus is the standard of perfection; he is the “ideal man.”
Therefore, self-righteous men who think you have arrived, look at the standard and be humbled. See your sin. See how God has rejected you. Repent of your pathetic manhood and be saved by the “ideal man.”
Then, Christian men struggling with sin, rejoice that God is finishing that which he has begun. We who are found in Christ Jesus are becoming more like him every day. The grace of God that justifies is the grace of God that sanctifies.
Also, Christian fathers, mothers, ministers, and teachers, let us keep our eyes on the goal and pray that Christ might grab our young men, save them, and conform them to his image. They can’t make themselves such. We can’t make them look like Jesus. However, we can storm the throne of heaven with prayer and petition God to fall upon them with his Spirit. God loves to answer prayers towards this end.
Christian daughters, pray that Christ might provide such a man with whom you can find marital union and fellowship. Such men will not be perfect. They will be very far from “ideal.” However, they will be making progress towards Christlikeness and this will be sweet to your body and soul.
Finally, Christian young men, learn from Saul, learn from Samuel, learn from David, learn from Jesus, and look away from the “less than ideal” idols that are put before you in society. Jesus Christ is beautiful. Jesus Christ is manly. Jesus Christ is the “ideal.” Therefore, let us honor him by emulating him. We will never reach such a standard in our mortal bodies, and we dot have to because we have been saved by his blood. However, we can enjoy the process of making progress. We can rest in the fact that the “ideal man” is making “ideal men” of us.