Read 1 Samuel 16:1,4-7,10-12
1 The LORD said to Samuel,”How long will you mourn for Saul,since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem,the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked,”Do you come in peace?”
5 Samuel replied,”Yes,in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived,Samuel saw Eliab and thought,”Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
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 human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance,but the LORD looks at the heart.”
10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel,but Samuel said to him,”The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse,”Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said,”Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said,”Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
People going for jobs are told to ensure they present themselves well. Look your best,design a smart CV,speak confidently,make eye contact. All good advice with one proviso: none of those things actually means you are the right person for the job. And of course none of those things means you are a good person of good character. First impressions do count but they can so easily deceive.
A hulking young man called Eliab impressed Samuel who was looking for God’s choice to rule Israel. He looked like a king somehow. God reminds Samuel that looking like a king isn’t the best qualification for being a king. There is something more than looking good. And in time God’s choice,David,appeared and was duly anointed. He wasn’t a puny weakling: he looked impressive. But the impressive looks were in this case allied to something inside,what the Bible later calls a heart after God’s heart.
Nothing wrong with being outwardly impressive,but let’s not be people who resemble those old Western movie sets. Authentic-looking facades with no substance. When God goes looking for people to advance his purposes on earth,he isn’t deceived by outward appearances. He looks inside. He sees the reality beneath the realities we present to others. Beware of dismissing those who don’t look impressive or who are not smooth operators. Beware of assuming that sleek and sophisticated people are somehow God’s favourites. Beware of confusing glamour and godliness.