Cattle Call

1 Samuel 16:7 “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him.”

Observation: Samuel has been grieving over the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king of Israel (16:1), but the Lord had said, in essence, “Buck up! Get over it!” “Go to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.” The first son Jesse paraded before Samuel, Eliab, apparently had the outward appearance of a king insofar as human perspective is concerned, but God cut off any consideration of him by saying, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him.”

When David was finally brought from the fields, he, too, made a fine outward impression; verse 16:12b says that David “had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance.”

Application: Like a parade of male models down a Ralph Lauren runway, Jesse’s sons were presented one at a time for Samuel’s consideration, but it quickly became apparent that something other than worldly measures were going to be used in selecting Israel’s next leader. Height, muscularity, chiseled features or vocal timbre were apparently not the qualities by which God intended to make His selection.

God placed no value upon the candidate’s outward appearance. In fact, His sole criteria were revealed in verse 7b: “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

How vast the gap can be between how the Lord and I assess relationships. I have too often sought to connect with people thought desirable to be seen with…people of power or wealth or unusual physical attractiveness. Yet the Lord doesn’t even pause to consider such things. Instead, He drills directly down to what really matters in His kingdom. The humble and downtrodden, those with no material attributes to recommend them but whose hearts are aflame for God and for the advance of His kingdom…these are the ones God wants to advance to places of honor.

I recently heard of women in Niger who passionately love Jesus even while caring for those reeking of fistula. Rejected by husband, family and community, they none-the-less attract the stigmatized to the only One who would never leave or forsake them. What a challenging example this presents to me as I consider my own life’s priorities. Wearing just-right clothes, having a full bank account and a great house…if these are not valued by the Lord why am I so inclined to esteem what is visible?

Prayer: Father, cause me to value what You value. Forgive me for misplaced priorities. In the midst of the great plenty that is America, lead me to treasure only what You treasure. Empty me of flesh’s pursuits, that You might view me with as much merit as a simple shepherd boy.

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