The Lord Looks at the Heart

We are very concerned about our appearance. We make ourselves look as nice as possible. We dress to impress. The pictures that we post on Facebook or Instagram are all the nice memories. We want to show ourselves to be living the good life. We want to show ourselves to be competent. We want to show ourselves worthy.

And why? Because we want the approval of others. If they see me looking good, then maybe they will invite me into their club. Maybe I can get the job that I’ve always wanted. Maybe I can make more money or attain greater prestige. These are very frequently our desires, and the outward appearance, designed to impress others, is the path that the world tells us is the way to achieve what we want.

Except that isn’t precisely the scenario in 1 Samuel 16. God has sent the prophet Samuel to choose the next king of Israel because he has rejected Saul. Saul has not obeyed God, but he instead has gone his own way. Instead of intending to impress God, Saul attempts to please the men around him. He wants the men to be happy instead of remaining in obedience to God.

So as Samuel looks at each of the brothers that their father Jesse has presented before him, Samuel says that each one is not the one that God has chosen. How does Samuel know that? Because God has told him that he shouldn’t look at the outward appearance. He shouldn’t look at what man is used to looking at to find a leader. He should look at what God looks at, at the heart.

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 7:7

Because Samuel isn’t able to see the heart, he must listen to God. Samuel waits until God chooses. He waits to see what God will do, and then he acts. Once David is presented to Samuel, Samuel knows that this is the one because God tells him, “This is the one.”

So Samuel anoints David with oil, indicating that David will be the next king of Israel. He will be the ruler, the one to whom the nation of Israel will look for leadership, both as a nation as well as a people of God. He will be the king over the people of God.

How common is this also for us? How frequently do we look at the outward appearance. The answer is: All of the time!

How do I know that? Because it is the way of the world. It is for this reason that people attempt to make themselves look as good as they can. As fit as possible. As rich as possible. As famous as possible. The reason is that this is what is accepted. The world rejects those who are good in heart, but accepts what is acceptable on the outside.

But we must put ourselves, instead, in the place of Samuel. We must wait on the Lord to speak to us. We must listen to him so that we can know that which is right within the heart. And when we do that, we will be aligned with the heart of God. He will have chosen that which is good internally, not just what is good externally, and that will be God’s path, God’s way forward, not just that of man.

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