Reading: 1st Samuel 16:1-13
Verse 7b: “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In our first Old Testament reading this week we visit a familiar passage and center in on a well-known verse. Samuel the prophet is sent to anoint the next king of Israel. Samuel the prophet brings God’s word to the people. Like most prophets it is often by offering words of correction and warning. His job is to get wayward people to walk faithfully. His most recent difficult words informed King Saul that he has been rejected by God. He has violated God’s command. He will reign, however, until the next king is ready. Over time people have come to fear seeing Samuel coming. This all is why the city elders tremble as Samuel draws near.
As the time comes to anoint the future king, Samuel sees and thinks as we can be tempted to see and think. First comes Eliab – oldest, strongest, tallest. Surely this is the one! No, God says, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Son after son passes by Samuel. The oil remains in the horn. In the end the youngest is sent for – the one out tending the sheep. God says to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him. He is the one.” Maybe the least likely from human standards, but the one with the heart to follow God and to lead the people faithfully. The Spirit comes upon David and begins to prepare him to be king one day.
The key verse for today is the lesson we need to learn and to practice over and over. Go past the surface, get down below the shine to know the person’s heart. Hear their story, understand what has shaped and formed them. As we do, we will begin to see where God is working or where God could be at work. As David was, may we too be led by the Spirit.
Prayer: Lord God, help me to see what you see, to perceive as you perceive. Then guide me and use me to build your kingdom by encouraging and empowering others in their walk of faith. Amen.