I never liked when we had to pick teams in gym class. Standing in line with the masses it is hard to not feel judged; after all, the captains are trying to choose a winning team. I really didn’t like to be a captain either. So much pressure to pick the right team?. What if I chose wrong?
In 1 Samuel 16, God sent the prophet Samuel to find the man God had chosen to be the next King of Israel. It appears he entered promising territory, God said that One of Jesse’s sons would be king. Jesse’s sons looked the part and there were several to chose from.
But as Samuel considered the first, God made it clear: this isn’t the one…. neither was the next… or the next… or the next…. until Samuel saw David. David, the youngest, was the one God had chosen.
In a line with 7 older brothers, why choose David? Correction, he wasn’t even in line. David wasn’t even in the room; he was still in the field. Why did God tell Samuel to keep looking when these sons of Jesse already seemed to be a good choice?
If we were picking teams for a game of kickball this kind of move wouldn’t have made any sense. Any of these would have been a sure winner. Just choose someone already! What do you mean none of these are the one?!
But Samuel wasn’t choosing a kickball team. And when Samuel was patient enough, God revealed His perfect plan.
7 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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Over and over in our advent scriptures we’ve been reminded that God works in ways we can’t imagine to work things we never could expect, because God sees to the heart of the matter and God is patient to work His perfect plan.
Samuel had been sent to find the next King of Israel because Saul (the current king) was no longer fit to serve. In fact, Saul had been the people’s choice, the king they desired, despite God’s warnings. Saul looked the part of a king but he did not have the heart of a king that God desired.
So as Samuel looked upon Jesse’s first son God makes it clear: God looks at the heart. Don’t just look at what you see, listen to God’s direction. Keep looking until the Lord confirms His will.
Samuel looked down the whole line of Jesse’s 7 oldest sons and yet none was God’s choice. At this point Samuel had learned enough to trust the Lord, if God said the next king was one of Jesse’s sons then there must be…
God had a plan for a man to be king, a man after God’s own heart. The line of other contenders was long yet God knew there was only one whose heart was right to be the next king. God knew David’s strengths and God knew what would be David’s failures.
Ultimately, God knew no earthly king (not David nor any who followed him) could lead His people to perfectly honor the Lord. And God worked through history bringing Israel to just the right place at just the right time for the King of kings and Lord of lords to come! The King, whose heart was good and true and righteous, would come not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
God is still in the business of looking straight to the heart. He gives us not what we want but what we need.