More than meets the eye
I Samuel 16:1-13
Do you like Transformers? What’s their motto? “More than meets the eye.” Today we are confronted with a similar situation in our text. Samuel is sent to anoint the next king of Israel, yet he thinks because the ones before him are tall, handsome, first borne, they deserve to be kings. The Lord looks beyond those characteristics in order to anoint the one he wants. He looks at the heart.
As ordination candidates, this is a both a word of warning as to how the Lord works and chooses his servants, but also a word of encouragement. How many of us are good looking and therefore, deserve to be ordained??
A Tragedy that needs a remedy (Vss 1-3)
Saul had been unfaithful to the Lord, therefore, the Lord was looking for a new king. Saul’s replacement had been inferred before, I Sam. 13:14 “14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” and 15:28, 28 Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbours—to one better than you.”
This last statement by Samuel could get him into trouble. That’s why we read that he was afraid about going to Bethlehem. It is God who will guide, and tell Samuel whom to anoint. He already knows it’s going to be one of Jesse’s sons, but he doesn’t know who it is. The suspense is killing the reader!!!
All sons but not king. Is there anybody else? (Vss. 4-11)
The elders were right to be afraid. They knew what had happened at Gilgal, and what the Samuel had said to Saul. Samuel was about to make a public sacrifice, and was about to anoint another king. The elders were indeed afraid of the outcome!!
It is very interesting to see that Samuel consecrated Jesse and his sons, but later we see that the one who was not consecrated, was the chosen one from the Lord, not the consecrated ones. This is a very striking reversal later on.
The Lord rebukes Samuel for just considering with his eyes who would be the anointed one to become king. The Lord tells Samuel not be taken by the appearance of the men or their height (The same with Saul, 9:2 “2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others); 10:23 “23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others.) What’s with being king and tall??
This is the crux of the text. Yes, we are reading about how David became king, but here we learn also how God works. One is a historical event, the later, is an eternal principle. God doesn’t judge the way we judge, and how grateful we can be for that!!! External appearances and good abilities are not enough in order to serve God. We shouldn’t be fooled by our own abilities if we are called to ministry or not, as well as the selectors should not be taken by the candidates great experience, persona or abilities, not to mention, good looks!!
It is striking that Jesse didn’t see David good enough as to call him back from tending sheep in order to see if he was going to be the new king of Israel. Talk about parenting!!!
David is anointed King (Vss 12-13)
A great deal of drama has gone before we get to this climax. We read that David was “He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.” The ESV says “ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.” The Amplified Bible says “healthy reddish complexion and beautiful eyes, and was fine-looking.” The contrast is that we have been told not to look at those features; yet, the writer of Samuel mentions them anyway. David was anointed in the presence of his brothers. Isn’t this what happens when we are ordained? We are not ordained in secret. I don’t know of a group called “ordination anonymous”. Deuteronomy 17:15 mentions that the King must be one of the brothers of Israel.
A final contrast that we see is that we are told in vs. 14 that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon David, while in the next verse we see the Spirit of the Lord departing David. The transition of the kingdom is complete in God’s eyes, although it is yet to happen among humans.
God does not follow our patterns of choosing who is going to serve him. God sees beyond our human capacities and chooses accordingly. But we may take comfort that God sees beyond our imperfections, and looks at the intentions and motives of our heart. Let’s pray that they may be pure in order to serve God as he desires, not as we desire.
Psalm 26:2 Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
Luis Alberto Jovel