Day 8, March 21, 2020
“The Lord Looks at the Heart”
Israel needed a new king. The Lord sent the prophet Samuel to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse. The Lord told Samuel that the new king would be one of Jesse’s sons. Samuel arrives in Bethlehem and is soon joined on the scene by Jesse and his sons. Apparently they are a pretty good-looking crew. Samuel’s eye is drawn to Eliab. Eliab was the firstborn son of Jesse. He was the oldest. You get the impression he might have been the tallest, maybe the strongest. We don’t know exactly why but Samuel sees Eliab, the oldest of Jesse’s sons, and begins to think maybe God has a pretty good plan after all. When Samuel sees Eliab he thinks to himself, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But God says, “Not so fast. He’s not the one.”
Abinadab comes up. He’s second oldest. God says not this one. Shammah steps forward. He’s third in line. God says nope. All seven of Jesse’s sons come up, show their wares, and each one gets rejected. When there is no one else in line, and all the seven sons have been rejected, Samuel is not quite sure what to do. He was sent to anoint a king from the sons of Jesse and all seven have been rejected. So Samuel asks Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
It turns out Jesse has been holding back. He’s got a big, strapping, handsome, athletic, intellectual, artistic, creative, combative, strong but sensitive, brave and bold son that would be just perfect for the job of king. Jesse and his seven other sons pair up and form a tunnel. With great fanfare Jesse shouts out, “Now Samuel, I give you the cream of the crop, the golden child, the best, the biggest, the brightest and the baddest of all my boys. I give you David.” As his brothers cheer David races through the tunnel and bursts out with a bang, right there in front of Samuel, who is bowled over at God’s choice for a king.
It doesn’t turn out quite that way. In fact, when Samuel asks Jesse if these are all his sons, Jesse almost apologetically says, “There is still the youngest.” But Jesse didn’t even think to bring him to the anointing party. He left the youngest out tending sheep. Jesse seemed to think one of the seven older ones, and maybe any of the seven older ones would do just fine as king. Why bring David? What do you think the older brothers did when David showed up? Can you imagine the snickering and rolling of eyes and muffled laughter as the little squirt that is their youngest brother shows up and stands before Samuel? Can you imagine the pit in Samuel’s stomach as he moved down the line, from biggest to smallest and God said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no? When God finally reveals his choice, it is the youngest and undoubtedly the most unlikely of all the sons of Jesse. This story could be a disaster, except for one thing. God tells Samuel not to consider outward appearances. Instead, God says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
For all those who have been judged by outward appearance, for all those who have fallen short on the grading curve, for all those who didn’t get chosen for the team or who sat on the bench, for all those who didn’t advance to the next round of dancing with the stars or gymnastics or the singing competition or the tryout for the school play or make first chair in the band…for all those whose application was rejected and who were passed over for promotion or gathered in a room and told your services are no longer needed…for all those who had a parent who for whatever reason said you weren’t good enough or you were a disappointment or you would never amount to anything…for the ones whose hearts have been broken by a break up or divorce…and for all of us who have looked in the mirror and judged ourselves as not measuring up to whatever standard the world has set for us…for all of us who have wondered if our life matters or if our life makes a difference…this story of God choosing David reveals an incredibly powerful and urgently important reality about God. God does not look at the things people look at. Humans look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Right now, in the middle of a devastating crisis, may these words bring us hope and encouragement. God looks at the heart. God looks at your heart. God looks at your heart and God likes what he sees. God sees a child he created. God sees a child he loves. God sees a child he sent his Son to live for and to die for. There can be no denying things look pretty bad right now…on the outside. Keep faith, dear friends. We have a God who looks at the heart. We have a God who loves us.
With the love of Christ,