God sees the heart

“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’” (1 Samuel 16:6-7 NIV).

God had rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 16:1). He sent Samuel to anoint another to be the next king over Israel. God had already selected the one that he wanted, one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem.

Although Samuel was afraid of what would happen to him if Saul learned of his anointing a new king, God gave him a pretext that would not arouse Saul’s suspicions. He was to go to Bethlehem to offer a sacrifice (1 Samuel 16:2-3). Samuel needed to be sure to invite Jesse to come so that one of his sons could be anointed as the next king.

When Samuel arrived and saw Jesse’s oldest son he thought this must be the next king. After all, this young man looked the part of a king. God told Samuel that what he looked like was not important. What was important was his heart. This is what God sees.

Each of Jesse’s sons was presented to Samuel but none of the seven had been selected by God to be the next king. When asked if there were more, Jesse replied that the youngest had been left behind to take care of the sheep. Being the youngest, Jesse seems to have thought that he would not be important. Samuel had Jesse send for his youngest son (1 Samuel 16:8-11).

Finally, the youngest son arrived. From what we can gather, he would have been in his mid to late teens. The text tells us: “He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features” (1 Samuel 16:12). The Lord told Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” Samuel anointed him as the next king and God’s Spirit came on him in a powerful way (1 Samuel 16:13).

How often are we like Samuel? Too often we judge someone by what they look like and not by their heart.

Our society places a great emphasis on the way someone looks. In order to be accepted we have to wear the right clothes, have our hair in the correct style, cover any blemishes with makeup, have the correct accessories, and be seen with the right people – at least this is the message that we are continually receiving from the media which is then perpetuated by those who buy into this way of thinking.

God will have none of it! He doesn’t care if we even know what the latest styles are. He is concerned with our heart and whether our heart is devoted to him. In the first Psalm, the writer (possibly David) emphasized this.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).

Let us devote our lives to the truth of God’s word. How we look can easily deceive. What is important is our heart. Make sure that our “delight is the law of the Lord”.

We will be including Psalms in our readings as we look at the life of David.

Readings for next week:
20 August – 1 Samuel 11-12
21 August – 1 Samuel 13
22 August – 1 Samuel 14
23 August – 1 Samuel 15
24 August – 1 Samuel 16, Psalm 1

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Jon Galloway

After graduating from Freed-Hardeman College and teaching school for three years, as well as preaching for small congregations in West Tennessee, Jon & Arlene moved back to her home of Glasgow, Scotland. Since 1985 Jon has been involved in evangelistic work in the Glasgow area, currently serving the congregation in East Kilbride. They have three grown children. Besides writing 'Bible Bytes', Jon is also one of the editors of the "Christian Worker," a news magazine for congregations in the UK, and is a teacher and governor for the British Bible School.

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