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  • Writer's pictureBro. Caleb Taft

Morning Manna | 1 Sam 16:7 | The LORD looketh on the heart

1 Sam 16:7

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.


Saul has been rejected and Samuel has been sent to Bethlehem to anoint a new king. He sees Eliab, a large able-bodied young man who obviously impresses Samuel. The Lord corrects Samuel and tells him that it is not the outward appearance that God is looking at but the inward. 


This little phrase has been taken out of context by much of Christendom. They use this verse to justify dressing like the world, tattooing their bodies, and forsaking the biblical teaching of separation. That is not what was happening in this verse at all. David was young and half the size of his brothers, it wasn’t that he looked like a punk and God saw a heart of gold underneath all the marks of the world, it was that he was the smallest and weakest among his brothers, not the most worldly. Of course, God saves men from the world, despite their heavy involvement in the world, but to come to Christ is to come out from among them. Slapping this verse on our worldliness is not only bad application but dangerous as well.  


More important though, is the fact that God does indeed look beyond our outward appearances. He could see right through Eliab’s braun and good looks to a jealous bitter heart [just read the next chapter], not fit for the throne. Likewise, he could see past David’s little stature and age to a heart that was “After his own heart.” Amazingly, God referred to David as a man after his own heart back in Samuel 13. While David was just a Boy God saw a man after his own heart. Many of the psalms are from David's youthful days as a shepherd, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” I've always imagined David lying in the fields looking up at the night sky and his heart worshipping God, and verse like Psalms 19 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” being etched into his heart. While Saul had his eyes set on the spoils of the Amalekites David had his eyes set on the Lord. Saul’s heart was after self, while Davids heart was after God.


Our heart is what God is concerned with, not our strength, not our looks, not our qualifications, or our education. Nothing else is even half as important as our heart. We can have all those things and if our hearts are not right then we are of no use. I am reminded of Ephesus, they had labor, they had patience, they had works but the Lord had somewhat against them, “You have left your first love.” It would do us all well to stop focusing so much on the appearance of things and work on the heart of things. Appearances are for men, but the heart belongs to God. God turned that boy into a king, and eventually, he looked like a King to everyone but that was 18 years in the making. 


So it is with us, that God spends many years maturing Christians to a place where what he has made us internally becomes evident externally. We are “transformed” as Romans 12 says. That is, metamorphosized, changed from the inside out. Like Jesus was transfigured and his glorious nature shined out and everyone was convinced of his Glory and greatness, in a much lesser sense it happens to the Christian. Imagine the scene on coronation day, David was no longer a young ruddy shepherd boy with the heart of a King, he was a military general with the heart of a King. The process of time and the providence of God had made that kingly heart evident to everyone. 


God sees the heart, he knows every intimate detail of who we are, there is no fooling him. How much of what we do is for him and how much is for the outward appearances? Who are we trying to impress? May the Lord keep us ever reminded “ for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

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