So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”
“Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.
When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NLT)
A well-known Christian speaker once got a bit upset that a man in the front row of his audience kept falling asleep during his talks. He felt it was rude but also felt he couldn’t do anything about it.
At the end of his series of talks, the wife of the man who had been dozing off came to him and thanked him profusely for his talks. She went on to apologise for her husband’s sleepiness. He was in the last stages of terminal cancer and the palliative medications made him drowsy.
But apparently one of his dying wishes was to hear this well-known man speak. The wife was so thankful he was able to have that wish and that her husband appreciated the talks despite his drowsiness.
All at once, perspective changed. Things were not as they appeared to be. Something else was going on. Appearances were deceiving, just as they were to Samuel as he looked around for the new king to rule Israel.
There are often things going on that don’t meet the eye. Making snap judgements leads to wrong conclusions. It also makes us blind and deaf to what our unseen God is doing in the midst of the circumstances we see. When faced with troubling or confusing situations, it is always wise to ask, “What is really going on here?”