People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Many years ago, Julie Landsman auditioned for principal French hornist for New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The MET held their auditions behind a screen to avoid prejudice by the judges. Landsman did well in her audition and ended up winning the competition. But when she stepped out from behind the screen, some of the all-male judges walked to the rear of the room and turned their backs on her. Apparently, they were looking for someone else.
When the Israelites asked for a king, God accommodated the people and gave them a man who was physically imposing like the other nations had (1 Samuel 8:5; 9:2). But because Saul’s first years as king were marked by faithlessness and disobedience, God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king (16:1–13). When Samuel saw Eliab, the oldest son, he assumed that God had chosen him to be king because he was physically impressive. But God challenged Samuel’s thinking: “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (v. 7). God had chosen David to lead His people (v. 12).
When evaluating people’s ability and suitability for His purposes, God looks at character, will, and motives. He invites us to be attuned to see the world and people as He does—focusing on peoples’ hearts and not their outward appearance or credentials.
Why is it vital not to judge someone based on personal prejudices? What does it mean for you to have a true heart for God?
Compassionate God, please help me not to evaluate people based on their appearances.
In 1 Samuel 16, David is formally introduced in the Old Testament. However, although David appears in the story in 1 Samuel, he was mentioned much earlier. In Ruth 4:17 we read, “The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” The story of Naomi is a story of preparation. Naomi lost her husband and sons but gained a lifelong companion and friend in her daughter-in-law Ruth. When they returned from Moab to Bethlehem, Naomi’s losses had made her bitter. But, when Ruth married their near kinsman Boaz, their son Obed brought Naomi renewed hope—and even more, made her the great-grandmother of David, Israel’s greatest king.