I am a born again Christian having been saved on Sept. 10 1995 at the age of 48. Since then I have read through the Bible once each year and found a couple of things that trouble me because I have always believed the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. Here they are: 1st Samuel 16:1-13 Tells us about Jesse’s sons filing in front of Samuel. Seven sons walk before Samuel and Samuel asks Jesse if he has any more sons. Jesse tells him about David. That would be 8 sons all together. 1st Chronicles 2:13-15 tells us that David was the seventh son of Jesse. How can this be true if the book of Samuel tells us he was the 8th son. Even if one brother died it doesn’t change the fact that David was number 8. Please explain.
1 Samuel 16:1-13 says, “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 Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. 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. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? 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. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. 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. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. Again, JESSE MADE SEVEN OF HIS SONS TO PASS BEFORE SAMUEL. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. 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. 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. 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.”
1 Samuel 17:10-14 also lets us know that Jesse had eight sons. Those verses say, “And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was JESSE; and he HAD EIGHT SONS: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.”
1 Chronicles 2:13-16 says, “And JESSE BEGAT his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, DAVID THE SEVENTH: Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail.”
This last passage seems to be a contradiction, at first, because it seems to say that Jesse only had seven sons, instead of eight. But please notice that this last passage specifically says “Jesse BEGAT…” these seven sons; that is, THESE SEVEN SONS WERE ACTUALLY BORN TO JESSE. They came of the union between him and his wife.
The previous passages do NOT say that Jesse “BEGAT” eight sons, but only that he “HAD” eight sons. This means that JESSE MUST HAVE ADOPTED A SON. He had seven sons of his own, by natural conception and birth, but took another son for his own, as well. It was probably after he had his first three sons, because their names seem to be mentioned together in each passage; but obviously before David was born, because Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel, and David was called the youngest, and still back in the pasture with the sheep.
The Scriptures refer to men sometimes even adopting servants as sons. Proverbs 29:21 says, “He that delicately bringeth up HIS SERVANT from a child shall HAVE HIM BECOME HIS SON at the length.”
We must also remember that Moses himself was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, even though he later renounced it. Hebrews 11:24-26 says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, REFUSED TO BE CALLED THE SON OF PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
Adoption is also something mentioned in the New Testament; in Galatians 4:4,5, in reference to our relationship to God as His sons. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive THE ADOPTION OF SONS.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 does the same. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, WHEREIN HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED.”
An adopted boy IS a son. He is ACCEPTED INTO THE FAMILY having full rights as a son (see the passage above). That is the reason that Jesse had that son also pass before Samuel to see if he was the one that God wanted to use in a special way. But 1 Chronicles is looking at Jesse’s family from the angle of those sons which actually were in his flesh and blood lineage. The adopted son was not conceived and born of Jesse and his wife, so that son was not listed there.
Praise the Lord that you read through your Bible every year! Keep doing it, and keep studying the Word of God. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” God promised to preserve His Word pure for every generation. Psalms 12:6,7, says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, THOU SHALT PRESERVE THEM FROM THIS GENERATION FOR EVER.”
Remember, there are some things that will be hard for us to understand, just like it was for Peter. II Peter 3:15-18 says, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; IN WHICH ARE SOME THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Notice the fact, that although there are some things hard to understand in the Bible, it NEVER CAUSED PETER TO WAVER on whether God’s Word was PURE AND PRESERVED. 1 Peter 1:24,25 says, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURETH FOR EVER. AND THIS IS THE WORD WHICH BY THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED UNTO YOU.” He made it personal and up-to-date, “THIS IS THE WORD WHICH BY THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED UNTO YOU.” Even when Peter had a hard time understanding the Bible, he did not question inspiration or preservation. God’s Word has no mistakes or contradictions. You have God’s Word on it.