Samuel was a great prophet in the land of Israel, sent to Jerusalem one day to anoint the next King of Israel. The only problem - he didn't know who he was to anoint until he got there and God told him who it was to be. So, despite knowing "where" he was to go to find the one he was to anoint, and the fact he knew "how" to anoint someone, he didn't know the "who" yet. This might just be the case with some of us - we have some of the facts, but just don't have all of them yet. We know part of the plan, but just not the full plan. We must still take steps in the right direction, just as Samuel did. He headed to where he knew to go - Jerusalem. He was prepared with what he planned to do - anointing the next King. He even had a general idea of what he was looking for in the next King. Therein is the rub...we sometimes "read into" God's plan a little more than what is really there!
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7 ERV)
You see, Samuel saw the most strapping young man being brought before him and thought immediately this must be the one he was to anoint. From the outside, he looked the part. He was tall - a man of stature. He was handsome - a man who could gain the attention of those around him. He might even have been a well educated man - but this wasn't the one God had in mind. We sometimes think we have things all figured out just by the appearance of what it is we see. The pieces seem to "fall into place" for us and we think this must be God's plan. The issue with this is when we simply judge the next step we are to take by the lack of resistance we might receive in doing so. Stop to consider this for just a moment - does Satan resist us when we are about to take a step AWAY from the plan God has for us? Not likely! In fact, he would rather we do that than anything else! Resistance often comes when we are taking too many steps in the right direction! Why? Satan is threatened by our forward progress!
All of us have a tendency to rely upon what we feel or see just a little bit too much on occasion. We think things are going pretty well, so we believe we must be on the right track. If we are truthful with ourselves, we may be just drifting, not really on track, but also not caught up in any really "rapids" which spin us out of control. We interpret this lack of resistance as being on the right path because we think all things will be rosy if we are obeying Jesus, right? Um, not necessarily. As I indicated, Satan doesn't like us getting too far down that road of obedience - he will do all he can to detour us from it because he knows the strength of character it builds, the might of faith which is cemented in our hearts, and the determination of will which will keep us on track when we draw close to Jesus.
Man looks at so many of the "outward" symbols to see what he can see and then makes "interpretations" of what he sees by what he has experienced in the past. As a nurse, I have seen (and sometimes smelled) some pretty interesting things. There are just some infections which emanate a particular odor to them, allowing us to immediately be very suspicious we are dealing with that particular microorganism as the culprit for the person's infection or symptoms. We are observers of "symptoms" because the human body doesn't come with an on-board computer we can hook up to a diagnostics machine and find out which parts are wearing out or giving us trouble! We observe with our senses - because that is all we really had for the longest of times and it gives us the best "suspicion" of where to start with the other diagnostics we may decide to pursue.
We move onto the more focused assessment or diagnostic testing AFTER we have finished observing what we can through our senses. The CT scan may reveal an abscess deep within the tissue extending to bone, but the smell and color of the wound exudate gave us a reasonable suspicion infection existed. The more complex testing confirms the diagnosis - because it can see on the inside what we cannot! In much the same way, God sees what we cannot. He knows the problematic areas of a man's life long before they become evident to those looking at the "outside" of that man. Outer appearances are often masking what is deeper within - something God knows without any specialized testing equipment! God often expects us to act upon what we know, then allow him to reveal the rest. This is how he works - not because he likes to control all the strings - but because he wants to develop our trust. As we come to appreciate this, we find ourselves jumping "ahead" of God much less. Just sayin!