We live in an increasingly visual age, what with all the selfies that are taken and shared, videos that are put online, films and TV programmes we consume. We are very quick to make judgments based on what we see, but looks can be deceiving. Right now, one of the most popular TV shows in the UK is Love Island, where beautiful girls sashay around in bikinis alongside muscular young men, and people watch to see who will pair off with who, and which fledgling relationship will last the course of the programme. Impressionable young people who tune in must think that in order to get a girl/boyfriend, they too must achieve a “perfect” body, toned and tanned to the extreme. The reality is that most people will never fit into this mould, so it sets them up to fail from the beginning.
God had a mission for Samuel to visit Jesse and his family in Bethlehem where one of his sons was to be anointed as king (1 Samuel Ch 16 v1 – 13). Samuel was still grieving for Saul and his failed kingship. Back in Ch 8 we are told that the people had rejected God as their King and instead demanded a human king, just like the other nations. When Samuel prayed to the Lord about it, He told him to give the people what they wanted while first warning them what it would cost them. The people were adamant that they wanted this king, so Saul was chosen. The Bible tells us that Saul was a “handsome young man” from a wealthy background, who was taller than anyone else. Perhaps he would fit in to Love Island very well!
However, Saul didn’t obey God when it mattered. He failed to wait for Samuel to offer a burnt offering to God and did it himself (1 Sam Ch 13). He was not reverent towards the holy things of the Lord and the divinely appointed priestly role. This led to a downward spiral and eventually the Lord removed His Spirit from Saul, hence the need for a new king. Now the Lord said to Samuel that He had provided Himself a king from the sons of Jesse, rather than letting the people have what they thought they wanted with another like Saul.
When Eliab, the first of Jesse’s sons came toward Samuel, he thought that this must surely be the one! But the Lord said to him that despite appearances he wasn’t –
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (v7)
Six more of Jesse’s sons passed Samuel by, but each one was rejected by God. Finally he had to ask Jesse if he had seen all of his sons, but there was one more, the youngest, who was out watching the sheep. Perhaps he seemed the least significant since Jesse hadn’t brought him along to the sacrifice with Samuel. As soon as Samuel laid eyes on David, the Lord spoke to him saying “Rise and anoint him; this is the one”.
Perhaps many times we feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We don’t look like models, have a wealthy background or spectacular gifts. Yet it’s often the insignificant that Jesus chooses to work with. Many of his miracles involved those who had been rejected by their own people and lived on the fringes of society. Jesus healed lepers, blind men, a woman who had bled for 12 years. He freed the demon-possessed, was merciful to a woman caught in adultery and forgave the thief on the cross. The disciples that he chose were not special men from privileged backgrounds. They were ordinary, hard-working people who often struggled to understand where Jesus was coming from.
Let’s not get caught up in spending most of our time, effort and money on these outward things that will only fade away. We can’t stave off the ageing process forever, whatever “skincare experts” like to tell us! Remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians Ch 4 v16 – 18:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”