Reader: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.”
Response: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Scripture: I Samuel 16:1-13
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”
But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” “Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”
So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?” “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.
When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” Next Jesse summoned Shimea, but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”
“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”
So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”
So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Undoubtedly we have all heard the phrase of advice―“Just follow your heart.” It sounds wonderful. But how many bad romances started out that way?! There are other phrases dealing with the heart that are tender or touching: heart-felt or broken-hearted. The Scriptures often refer to the heart . . . “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.”
We are probably very familiar with this passage and story of the anointing of the young boy, David, as king of Israel. Samuel who was the first prophet in Israel―after Moses―had anointed Israel’s first king, Saul. But Saul had usurped the priest’s role in offering sacrifices and as a result, God was sorry he ever made Saul king. So God instructed Samuel to anoint a new king. This message from God occurred just before the passage you just read. Samuel had been in mourning for Saul’s great failures in leading Israel, for Saul had not sought the LORD’s guidance and even consulted a medium, a witch.
Samuel was understandably nervous about anointing another person king while Saul was still in power. God gave him the excuse to give if questioned, for God had chosen another to rule his people Israel. When Samuel the prophet arrived in Bethlehem unannounced, it predictably stuck fear in the hearts of the people. For often prophets were God’s instruments for bringing divine judgment. In this case the word was circulated that he had come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord being sure to invite the family of Jesse.
Samuel’s thinking on seeing the first of Jesse’s sons would be the thought all of us would have is my guess. Eliab was apparently tall, handsome, and well-spoken. He would make a fine king. But it was not to be. Samuel worked his way through all the brothers without finding the king. Finally, the youngest son, David, appeared before Samuel and the LORD said this is the one. At that point the Holy Spirit came upon David in a powerful way from that day on.
Here we are given the perspective of God as he spoke to Samuel. “Don’t judge by his appearance . . . The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” It was Jeremiah, some several hundred years later that said, “The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can know it.” (Jer. 17:9) And therein lies the great danger in our phrase, “Just follow your heart.” Samuel’s first conclusion was based on his own heart’s observation. Our perspective shaped by our own heart is not always true. Be very careful when these words form when considering some action: “I just felt in my heart that I should . . .” We need God’s perspective. Ours can be flawed, not only flawed, but often deceptive as well. Rather than “following our heart” it would be much better to follow God’s heart, which means spending much time with God so that we might know his heart.
Though a flawed king, David sought the LORD with a repentant heart. It was David who wrote in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” With a flawed heart David sought God’s heart. And it is from his lineage that the Messiah would come. It is not surprising that King David was later described in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart” or “she was a woman after God’s own heart.” That would make a wonderful epitaph on a tombstone!
Music: “Near to the Heart of God” Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4-Jkb3vgSs In case you were wondering, they were playing along with what they had recorded earlier. Having played a brass instrument, I can’t imagine how cold that mouth piece was, how cold the reeds were, or how hard to keep the strings in tune! But it was beautiful!
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Amen. ―King David, from Psalm 51