Not Appearance but the Heart
When they came, Samuel looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 15: 34–16:13, NRSV
How many of you have seen the movie Shrek? It's a wonderful human story with a quirky cast of characters: the handsome prince who cannot become king until he marries a princess; a princess who, every night, changes into her ugly self; Donkey, a talking donkey who is sent to rescue her; and–of course–Shrek himself, a green ogre who lives in a swamp.
One day Shrek complains to Donkey how everyone judges him before they even meet and get to know him. Such is the life of an ogre. However, like all good fairy tales, we have a happy ending when Shrek and the princess, Fiona, fall in love, and Shrek is released from his swamp of rejection while Fiona is released from her stronghold of fear. They discover they are beautiful despite their appearances.
Our passage says, “
For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.
The first king of Israel, Saul, presented the ideal visual image of what a king should be. He was handsome, courageous, a person of action and he was successful when he obeyed God. Yet his character was deeply flawed, and he consistently failed to follow God’s commands and showed no remorse.
By contrast, the second king, David, was a man of faith and character who was not sinless, but was quick to recognize it. He learned from his mistakes and, as a result, he grew. He did not look impressive on the outside, but God found possibilities for His work in the most unexpected places and through the most unlikely persons. You know God can see our x-ray. He sees what we think. He sees what we feel. He sees and knows if we really love Him. Our hearts are laid bare before Him.
The Rev. Gill Keyworth