1 Sam 16
Today as we read 1 Sam 16, we get to see God’s choice for the next king of Israel after Saul. The tricky part is that Saul wasn’t dead yet. Saul had become rebellious and stubborn against God. He was more concerned with what others thought of him than he was with his relationship with God, so God took his kingdom away from him. If you look back in chapter 15, Samuel the priest was so grieved by Saul’s terrible choices that when God told Samuel He was going to replace Saul, Samuel “cried out to the Lord all night long”. It says later in chapter 15 that “Samuel mourned constantly for Saul”. Samuel was heartbroken because he loved the Lord and he loved Israel. He had been Israel’s spiritual leader since he was a boy. (And he was old and grey in chapter 12) The people weren’t happy because they wanted a king just like all the other countries had, and God had given them what they wanted in Saul. So when Saul was failing to follow God, it was crushing to Samuel. God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to meet with a man named Jesse to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king.
I want to concentrate on verses 6-7 today. Samuel was obeying God. His only purpose for this trip was to do what God had asked him to do. His heart was right and his motives were right. He was in close relationship with God. Vs 6 “Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” Then Vs 7 “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.” Samuel thought he knew where God was headed with this one after he saw Eliab, tall, good looking, from the right family…it all added up in his mind because he was in town to anoint the next king. But God knew what heart He was looking for. He knew the characteristics He needed in the man who would be anointed king but not become king for fifteen years. God knew what those fifteen years would look like and He knew who’s spirit would be teachable, dedicated, loyal, devoted and reliant on Him throughout his life. God knew who He could build leadership skills in to become the leader God needed for His people. Samuel couldn’t see all of that by looking at a family of boys.
Two points stand out to me in this story. First, when our hearts are right and our relationship with God is close, we still have to listen for His voice. I’ve been noticing something in the past few years as I have read the Bible and then on Sunday, our pastor said exactly what I had been noticing, God rarely does things the same way twice. We serve a mighty and creative God who has every atom in this universe (and beyond) at His disposal to accomplish whatever He decides to accomplish. He works however He decides He needs to in any situation to accomplish what ever He needs accomplished and I would say that a lot of the time we only see or understand a small portion of the effects of His work. Even when we think we know where God is headed in a circumstance or issue in our lives, we have to listen to his direction and leading because He very well might surprise us with something different than what we expected.
Second, we make mistakes when we asses people on appearances instead of on character. We just can’t help ourselves, we see and we judge. Because we see people or circumstances with our eyes, we feel like we have the ability to judge. We forget that only God sees inside, we forget that only He knows what motivates a person’s actions or choices, we don’t know the truth about what another person’s heart looks like, only God knows. God is the only one who can judge. Appearance doesn’t reveal what people are really like. It doesn’t show their true value.