LOOKING AT THE HEART (1 SAMUEL 16:6-13)
“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse then made Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, ‘Nor has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered, ‘but he is tending the sheep.’ Samuel said, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.’ So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’ So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”
This message is about hearing the voice of God and being guided by it. It talks about a situation many of us may have experienced when faced with making a decision. If we did not have access to the wisdom of God, we would choose what we thought was the best. We would make our decision on the basis of what we saw with our physical eyes, and the reasoning of our minds. This may not be the right decision.
God had instructed Samuel to go to Bethlehem, the town of Jesse, and anoint one of his sons as the next king of Israel. When the family met Samuel, seven young men were introduced to him, and he would have anointed the wrong man, if he had relied on his own understanding and his own senses. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” This is a difficult thing to do because we may have relied on our own intellect and understanding from our infancy. We spend our lives educating and developing the five senses. We eat three times a day (some of us more and some less!) feeding the body. We may consciously feed the mind a few times a day, but information is constantly fed into our minds with or without our awareness, as thousands of subliminal messages hit us at different levels during the course of each day.
We naturally have focused so much on the physical aspects of our life, which includes the body and the mind, and when we are born again, we fail to realize that we need to feed our spirits as much or more regularly than how we feed our flesh. It is only as the spirit man is fed and grows strong that the voice of God becomes audible, and the voice of the spirit becomes strong enough to influence the mind, the emotions and the body.
When Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest son, Eliab, he reached for his anointing oil. Eliab was handsome, tall and kingly, and Samuel thought that this was surely God’s choice. We have fixed ideas about how the servants of God should look, sound and act. Samuel thought ‘this man looks like a king”. Similarly, there are anointed men and women who we may conclude are not really God’s servants because they do not have the typical ‘look’ of a minister!
However, God was moving on a different track. He said to Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance”. God is not impressed by the outward appearance. He is not swayed by the works of our hands or the words that we speak, unless they are flowing out of the abundance of a sincere heart. He looks first at the heart! God’s word cautioned Samuel to keep still and keep his heart opened to hear. It is interesting that this mighty prophet of God had the same thoughts that we might have had. He observed the positive appearance of Eliab and drew a conclusion. This is what we all may do, and that is why we so need the guidance and direction of the Lord, who is always willing and ready to speak to those who sincerely seek His heart. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” The onus is on us to seek God and ask Him for wisdom and direction, and He is so faithful to show us the way.
All Jesse’s sons were brought before Samuel, and as one after the other were introduced to him, there was no green light from the Lord. Finally, once he had seen all the boys who were brought to him, Samuel asked Jesse if there were any more sons. He knew that if God sent him here there had to be another son somewhere who was the chosen one. We can see that David was so little regarded by his family that they had not even thought of having him there when Samuel visited. But God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong, so that our boast may be in Him and Him alone! (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). His thoughts are so different to our reasoning, and if we relied on our own understanding, we would be taking the wrong steps all the time.
I believe that God’s hand was on all those sons of Jesse, and He had plans for each of them. “Eliab” (in Hebrew) means “God is father”, while “Abinadab” means “the Father is generous”. “Shammah” means “the Lord is there”. Each of these boys were precious to God, and anointed for some specific purpose. (We know from Chapter 17 of 1 Samuel that some of them served as warriors in the army). Because Samuel was led by the voice of God, he did not settle for ‘good’ when God had the best to come.
When David was brought from his sheep in the fields, Samuel heard the Lord saying what he had been waiting to hear “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” Samuel obeyed the word of the Lord, and we are told that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” The whole course of history could have been different if Samuel had not waited and received the direction of the Lord! The power of God was released into the life of David, and through him, into the life of the nation (and the world), because Samuel heard and obeyed. Samuel was instrumental in bringing God’s plan for the nation to pass. David became the mighty king of Israel and a part of the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are some threads of Truth we can draw from this passage of Scripture, which can change the way we live our lives in 2011.
1) Know that God’s choice will be very different to your natural choice – He sees the heart, and He also sees further down the road than you can.
2) God usually reveals His wisdom step by step. Samuel was first told to go to Jesse’s town, and he saw the first seven sons, before he saw the chosen one.
3) Do not just settle for ‘good’ when you can receive God’s guidance and have the best He has for you.
4) Be patient and wait for God’s full revelation. Any time you are being rushed into a decision, know that you are being led by the wrong voice.
5) Always check back with God if you are not sure about what you hear. Samuel asked Jesse if there were any other sons, because he knew God had not approved any one of the first seven.
6) Know that God will release great power and anointing into your life and situation as you learn to hear His soft voice and obey!
Friend, start to seek the guidance of the Father in every decision you have to make – in your ministry, relationships, work and finances, in your going out and coming in. You will see how His wisdom and direction fills your life with anointing and victory. You are on the road to power! You will be walking in Daddy’s perfect will!
May you overcome every obstacle that stands before you, and may you know God’s love and power flowing in and through your life in a whole new way, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 31 January 2011
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