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. Eliab is not the right man.”
(I Samuel 16:7 ERV)
One of the sons of Jesse had been chosen by God to be anointed the next King of Israel, taking the role King Saul had first filled. It was the custom that the High Priest or Prophet go out to do the work of anointing the new King. He'd take a horn of oil prepared for the task and listen intently to where God was leading him. As God would direct, Israel would soon have a new King, and he had to be prepared through the "anointing service" as evidence his life from "head to toe" was dedicated to the task of both serving God and the people. Samuel ends up at the house of Jesse, but is a little confused at first when he sees the first son, Eliab, who is tall and handsome - by appearances, he was all things you'd look for in a leader. As we all know from personal experiences, appearances can be deceiving! God's directive is look much deeper than the surface qualities and there Samuel will find the "right man" for the job. It is often when we finally learn to look beyond what we see on the surface that we realize what actually is right there, but would have easily been missed had not we stopped to consider these things.
Seven sons get paraded by Samuel, each one with a resounding "not the one" heard clearly in Samuel's heart. He was likely losing hope that he had heard from God correctly - for all the sons appeared to have been disqualified by God as the one to lead the people. As is often the case, when we finally come to the end of whatever it is we plan, God reveals his plan. Jesse, the father of these seven boys, thought for sure one of these fine, upstanding young men would be "qualified" to be King. After all, God had directed Samuel to his household, and the custom was usually that the oldest, or at least one of the elder sons would have been chosen. The eighth son was not even there - for he was tending the sheep - his regular work of the day. Herein is a little lesson for each of us who would seek any form of leadership opportunity - it isn't in seeking leadership that we find it - it is in seeking to do what we are called to do consistently every day that we come to the place God elevates us to that position.
David was also a good-looking, ruggedly strong young man. He had the look of a shepherd - having come right from the flocks into the presence of Jesse. He was probably tanned and fit - walking long distances to protect and guide these flocks to their watering holes, green pastures, and restful places where they'd be safe under his watchful eye. He was likely more "recognizable" as a common, everyday herdsman than he was as the one to fill the throne room of the King! What we recognize most about others is often what we see with our eyes - God wanted Jesse to see with his heart and his spirit - so he'd see more than what others saw. God is always more concerned about what a man or woman is on the inside than he is with our outward "image". While we always want to present an "image" that is honoring of God, we might do very well with the outward image and be very deficient on the "inward maintenance" that needs to occur!
Inwardly, God wants a heart that is pure - one that isn't caught up in the pleasures of this world to the exclusion of having an eye for the good things God has prepared for us in his presence. He wants a mind that is focused - not on all the loudest voices, but in hearing and understanding the smallest of voices that has the most significant of messages for us to hear and learn. He wants a spirit driven not by lust or greed - but one which is seeking and submissive - desiring to be filled to full with the presence and love of God. These are the things that drew God to David. These are the things he helped Samuel see - even though he might have begun with the outward, Samuel received the confirmation from God that David was the "right one" by what he saw "inside" this young man. There is a great lesson for each of us here - for as we "measure a man", let us look not to what he outwardly portrays, but what at what dwells within. Therein we will find the "perfect fit" for whatever it is we seek. Just sayin!
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