1 Samuel 16 tells the story of Samuel, whose task was to anoint a king to replace Saul. He was directed by God to go to the house of Jesse, who presented seven sons before him to be selected. In so doing, he conveniently left out David as a possible candidate.
After taking a look at Eliab, Samuel came to the conclusion, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ (vs. 6). So sure was he that he used the strong description, ‘the Lord’s anointed’ in describing Eliab as the chosen one of God. But he was far from correct. The Lord’s response was scathingly, ‘I have rejected him.’ (vs. 7). What was the big issue?
When Samuel went about his task to anoint a new king, he surely must have set his standards by what he saw in the present king, Saul. Scriptures describe him as, ‘A handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.’ Apparently, Eliab resembles such a man, for concerning his rejection by God, Scriptures say of him, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. . . ’ (vs. 7a). With this statement, we can perhaps use a bit of imagination and see Eliab as a man whose appearance and stature most be imposing.
But looks can be deceiving. And that is why more and more we hear statements that strength of character should be valued a lot more than strength of the arm, or that height of one’s integrity is much more important than the height of one’s head.
Be that as it may, what the world looks for is that which appeals to the eyes, where the packaging becomes even more important than its contents. (The proof of the pudding is in the eating –how many times have we been attracted to the beautifully packaged box of moon cakes, but only to be left sorely disappointed after the first bite).
What was it that God saw in David? The Bible did not say it in so many words, except that God took into consideration what he saw in David’s heart. What did God see? What potential did He see in the heart of David? This is what is recorded in Acts 13:22 as to what God saw in him – ‘. . . I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22).
How about us? Others may have a high or low view of us. These may be correct or otherwise; fair or unfair; blurred or accurate. What has God got to say about our heart condition?
Since we acknowledge the truth of the Bible’s assessment of the human heart in Jer. 17:9, which says that ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; . . . ’ we need to humbly come before God to set our hearts right before God.
May we aspire to be like David, and utter the same prayer he uttered in Psalm 86:10-12, ‘For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.’
Elder Richard Lai