Tuesday, October 13, 2015


     Have you ever made a wrong assessment of an individual that you met but do not know too well?  It is so easy to do.  Most of us have done this at one time or another.  We react to a glance in our direction at a gathering and read into it a negative connotation.  Then again, we may hear part of a conversation and make assumptions without having all the facts.  When we jump to conclusions about another person, we may decide to eliminate them as a potential friend before we have ever really had a good talk with them.  Unfortunately, we do not see others as God sees them. This happened to the Children of Israel as well.

A crown worn by the Wittlesbach family of Bavaria
     When the Israelites demanded a king of their own, God granted them their request warning them of the  demands a king would make on them.  However, they wanted to be like all the nations around them and were not satisfied with God alone being the head of their nation.  As a result, God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint the first king of Israel.  God instructed him to set apart Saul for this position.  In I Samuel 9:2, we read this description of Saul:  "And he had a son named Saul, 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."  The writer here describes the appearance of this man chosen to lead the people.  No doubt his height and good looks made him appear to be the perfect man for the job, but not many chapters later in this book, we read of his jealousy of David, his sin against God by offering a sacrifice and his disobedience in consulting with a medium.  All of this was against God's Law.  Saul may have looked good on the outside but inside, he was sinful.
     Inevitably, God rejected Saul as King of Israel.  Samuel genuinely grieved over this, but God told him to go to Jesse the Bethlehemite and find a new king among his sons (I Samuel 16:1b).  The prophet came with a sacrifice to offer and invited Jesse and his sons.  When Samuel saw Eliab, he thought surely this was the one which God had chosen.  Then the Lord reminded him:  "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as a man sees;  man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" ( I Samuel 16:7).  One by one, each of Jesse's sons came before Samuel and the Lord rejected them all.  Then, Samuel asked if there were any other sons and Jesse told him that the youngest, David, was out tending sheep.  Samuel asked his father to call him back.  When he came, the Lord made it known to Samuel that this was His chosen one.  So Samuel anointed David king although he would not reign until years later.
     This story in Scripture has a lot to say to us when we are tempted to make judgment calls on those around us.  First, appearances can be very deceiving.  Look at Saul.  He was handsome and seemed on the outside to have what it takes to be a leader.  Indeed, he did win some battles, but ultimately, he fell prey to following his own way of doing things rather than obeying the Lord.  Just because someone has charisma when they talk, or appear to be one of the "beautiful people" does not mean they will necessarily be a good leader, a friend, or someone we can trust.
     When it came to choosing a second king, God was very specific in what He was looking for when He spoke to Samuel.  He said that He looked on a man's heart not on his appearance.  As the sons passed by one by one, the Prophet kept expecting this one to be chosen, but chose the least of the brothers.  David is described as being the youngest with ruddy cheeks.  He was good looking but God saw into his heart.  It is through the line of Jesse that God would bring the long awaited Messiah.  It was His plan.  Good thing Samuel wasn't in charge, and it is also a good thing we were not in charge.
     How many times have we misjudged a friend, relative or co-worker?  Sadly, we often sound worse than children as we tell another, "Did you see the way he/she looked at me?  I know they are out to get me!"  In fact, it could be that other person is having a bad day and you didn't have anything to do with it.
     At other times, we may take a simple statement someone makes and build an entire case against that person when it is not at all what they meant.  We would all do well to look at the heart rather than appearance, facial expressions or words.  It takes time to get to know someone, and the important thing to remember is that "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  If God did this for us, how can we then exclude others on the basis of comparing them to our own standards of conduct?  We have to see others through the eyes of Jesus.
     Granted, there are and will be people with whom we may not come to develop a deep relationship with.  We are not all alike.  However, God calls us first to a relationship with Him and then, to develops relationships with one another.  We need His discernment rather than for us to lean on our own understanding when it comes to this task.
      Think of how many family feuds could be avoided and how many hurt feelings could be spared if we would look at the heart and not outward appearances.  Satan loves to plant vain imaginations in the minds of the willing, so we need to be on our guard.  Instead, let us take up the mantle of Samuel and call upon the Lord to help us see someone's intentions and heart as He does.  We will find that new avenues of friendship and relationship are available to those who are not easily offended by others and who are willing to go the extra mile to get to know someone.  May we glorify God in our relationships and not be carried away by outward appearances.  Selah!

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