1 Samuel 16-17

Looks Can Be Deceiving.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.‘” ­– 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

The story of Saul is the story of a man who looked like a king, but who failed to live like one. He had all the outward characteristics of a leader. He was tall, handsome, a warrior, and yet, he ended up being rejected by God because he was disobedient to God. He was a lousy leader because he was a lousy follower. This entire story of Saul and David seems to be filled with references to appearance, and I don’t think it’s just coincidence. When Samuel is sent by God to the house of Jesse to look for the one He has chosen to be Saul’s replacement, looks play a significant part. God assured Samuel, “I have selected a king for Myself among his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1), but He didn’t tell him how he would recognize the one chosen. So all Samuel had to go on was appearance. He was looking for someone who looked like a king. And as Jesse paraded his sons by the prophet one at a time, Samuel began choosing based on appearance. As soon as Eliab, the firstborn came into view, Samuel said, “This has got to be the one!” He had all the outward qualities of a king. We aren’t given a detailed description of Eliab, but he was most likely tall, handsome, strong, and a warrior. Much like Saul had been. But Samuel hasn’t seemed to learn from the lesson with Saul. God rejects Eliab and informs Samuel that He is looking for something more. He is looking beneath the surface. His interest is in the heart. He doesn’t need a man with strength and the right kind of leadership skills. He needs a man with the right kind of heart. So he rejects the sons of Jesse one at after the other. Until He gets to David, the youngest. The likelihood of David being selected was so low that he had not even been brought by Jesse to appear before the prophet. He was out tending sheep. And the passage tells us that David was not only young, but “he had red hair and beautiful eyes and pleasing looks” (1 Samuel 16:12 BBE). David was a red-headed, pretty boy Jewish kid. He didn’t look like a king or a warrior. But God told Samuel, “This is the one; anoint him!” (1 Samuel 16:12 NLT).

In chapter 17 we have the well-known story of David and Goliath, and once again appearance plays a major part. We get a detailed description of the Philistine champion, Goliath. He is huge, a giant of a man with superhuman strength and a personality to match. He is intimidating in all his armor as he shouts insult at the Israelites day after day. Everything about this guy is bigger than life, including his armor and weapons. And no one is willing to stand  against him. Not even Saul, who stood head and shoulders above anyone else in Israel. Then in comes David, the harp-playing shepherd boy from Bethlehem. By all appearances, he is no match for this warrior from Gath. But he has something going for him that no one else can see. He has a heart for God and the faith of a man who trusts in God. He is also anointed with the Spirit of God. But when Saul looks at David, all he sees is a boy. Yet David is brimming with confidence, not in himself, but in his God. David boldly informs Goliath, “you come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 NLT). We all know how the story ends. David defeated Goliath with nothing more than a sling and a stone. But the truth is, David had so much more than a rock and piece of leather. He had God. More than that, he had confidence in God. He had a heart that understood the power and presence of God. He had might and right on His side. So he had nothing to fear.

Looks can be deceiving. Appearance can be misleading. But God looks at the heart. Because that’s where reality is. It’s what’s inside that really counts.

Father, You aren’t impressed with appearances. You don’t need me to be strong to accomplish great things in me or through me. If fact, You seem to prefer that I am weak, so that You can prove Your strength through me. Help me to learn to stop looking at the outside and to start looking at the inside. Give me an internal perspective. Give me a greater concern about my heart than the way I appear.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org