1 Samuel 16:7: "...but the LORD looks 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 man looks at. Man looks
at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV)
The full passage: 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23:
Why can't Samuel recognize the next king? God says why he can't in the verse above,
1 Samuel 16:7. However, God also made this statement in a larger context. When Samuel
anointed Saul as king, he was a head taller than the rest of Israel.
His size made him stand out among the people. Yet, in 1 Samuel 15:1-35, Saul's dynasty
ends with him because he failed to follow God's instructions.
In stark contrast to Saul, David was still a boy when Samuel anointed him king.
He was the youngest of eight brothers. As the youngest brother, David stayed with
the sheep when his father and brothers went to the sacrifice with Samuel. They had
to go get him because no one thought he would be the one anointed king.
A good translation of the statement in 1 Samuel 16:7 is the following.
"For [the LORD does] not [see a person] as a man sees [him]. A man sees [him]
with [his] eyes, but the LORD sees [his] heart."
The context doesn't end here. When Goliath challenged the Israelites, no one, including
Saul accepted it, because Goliath
was much larger. However, David came to the battle area bringing food to his three
oldest brothers. David, with his
shepherd-boy clothes and weapon,
accepted the challenge of the giant Goliath. Goliath died laughing.
When Saul realized God had chosen David to succeed him, he pursued
David even when his own son recognized God chose David. In contrast, David spared Saul's life, but
Saul sought to kill David.
David realized it was up to God to make him king.
David didn't have a passive personality. He was a fierce warrior and
used his God-given opportunities. After David and his men lived among the Philistines,
Israel no longer needed to go to the Philistines for iron tools.
Apparently, they learned the Philistines' secret. But, David realized taking the opportunities
God gave meant doing what was right rather than making one's own opportunities through
justifying the wrong means. Saul was willing to let the end justify the means.
Saul's behavior approached insanity.
In case those earnestly seeking to do God's will misplace their pride,
history continues with David committing the grievous crimes of adultery with Bathsheba
and the murder of her husband, Uriah. From
outward appearance, Saul's disobedience seems
petty compared to David's crimes. Both of David's crimes carried a death sentence under
Jewish law. The murder of Uriah could carry a death sentence even today.
However, David's response to the rebuke from God's prophet was very
different from Saul's. When Nathan confronted David, he acknowledged the seriousness
of his sins. Saul denied his sin until
Samuel told him the consequences.
Then, Saul spent the rest of his life trying to kill David to undo those consequences.
No matter how much we turn our thoughts, desires, and feelings over to God, we
still fall short of God's heart. But, how open are we to God's correction in our lives?
How receptive are we to whoever or whatever God sends to correct us?
©2001 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as long as you
1) do not alter the wording and
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