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?”
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.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
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.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 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.”
So he sent for him 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.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
– 1 Samuel 16:4-13
“Indeed it may be truthfully said that everything of lasting value in the Christian life is unseen and eternal. Things seen are of little significance in the light of God’s presence. He pays small attention to the beauty of a woman or the strength of a man. With Him the heart is all that matters. The rest of the life comes into notice only because it represents the dwelling place of the inner eternal being.
“The solution of life’s problems is spiritual because the essence of life is spiritual. It is astonishing how many difficulties clear up without any effort when the inner life gets straightened out.”
– A. W. Tozer, The Next Chapter after the Last
Another football season is upon us in the US. There was a song written in 1933 that was still sung when I was going to high school, maybe still today. The song goes “You’ve got to be a football hero, to get along with the beautiful girls.” For your information, my wife is one of the weird beautiful girls who went after the guy with a head on his shoulders and a spark of something else. Those are rare beauties.
The Israelites wanted a king and Saul was chosen by casting lots. If they had been playing football in those days, Saul would have been the captain of the team. He was a head taller than anyone else.
In the Scripture above, Samuel is told by God to go to the home of Jesse to anoint the new king, since Saul started off his reign screwing up. Samuel saw Eliab and immediately thought that he was the kingly type, large, strong. But God gave Samuel a lesson that we have not learned in the thousands of years since. It is the heart of a person that counts – that spark that my wife was looking for.
I have nothing against football players. In some respects, football takes some of the bullies out of the alleys. It provides a means of channeling aggression into something that is socially acceptable. It teaches teamwork. And it is an exciting sport to watch.
In intramural sports in college, I was the team’s kicker, but in one game, the middle linebacker was not playing. I got to hit people. No one got hurt that day. The mud on the field was a foot thick, mostly standing water. The greatest fear was in knocking someone to the ground where they could drown in the muddy water. Being the guy who always got beaten up by the bully, it felt good to be the guy that did the hitting.
But at some point, the football player will play for the last time. Has he grown up, realizing this moment? Does he have an adult plan? Too many football stars of the past are selling cars or working at fast food restaurants. Not that those jobs are not honorable, but these former players are no longer the star that everyone looks up to. They did not learn the important lessons.
But the most important lesson is not taught in any school; it is a gift from God. Note the last verse of the Scripture above. As soon as Samuel anointed David, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in a powerful way. Samuel had anointed the runt among all of Jesse’s sons, yet Samuel had anointed God’s chosen. God knew that David had the right heart to handle the responsibilities of the position of king. David knew that his victories were God’s victories, for David had no strength of his own. When David goes out to fight Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he sheds the armor he was given. He was not strong enough to even move once they had armed him.
It was important to David that he knew the source of his strength. But it was equally important to God’s chosen people. David was not the type that would have been selected captain of the football team, but David pointed to God as the source of his strength. This gave the people of Israel a reminder of Who was in charge, as David glorified God with each victory.
We are also anointed by God with the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Savior. God will judge us by what is in our heart.
What are your desires today? Do you want to be captain of the football team or the girlfriend of the captain? Or do you want to be the captain of industry, an elected public official, or a military hero?
Or do you want to be more like Jesus?
Forget the outer appearance. It is what is in the heart that counts.
I first met my platoon sergeant when he had gotten into trouble. I had not taken over the platoon yet. A thorough inventory had to be performed. What I saw was a Texan, a long tall Texan. He was six foot and a bunch, made of rawhide. He was in trouble for thinking about using a lead pipe to adjust a young soldier’s attitude. Once I had taken over the platoon, that young soldier became my worst nightmare. His antics would try anyone’s patience. My platoon sergeant stopped himself from doing bodily harm, but he was cautioned to release his anger in a more productive means.
He was coaxed, as a result, onto the local rugby team in our town in Germany. A common play in rugby is to line up in echelon formation, with each successive player a little further behind and to his side of the one with the ball who is in front. If the person with the ball is about to be tackled, he could toss it backwards and to the side to the next guy, and so on. My platoon sergeant, who was a lot older than the other guys, would drive the first guy into the next and then the next with a quickness that they were not expecting. He had heard that Bubba Smith of American football fame had done it, so he tackled all the runners at once. They could sort out who had the ball afterward. His exploits that rugby season became legendary. Of course, being a head taller than everyone else helps in doing that.
But my platoon sergeant became my best friend in life (after we were both transferred to other assignments) for other reasons than his rugby prowess and his stature. He was not just the big guy that kept others from messing with me, but he was the gentle soul who had a large family and a loving wife. He wrote music in his spare time. He had his demons, but with faith in God, he conquered them. He was my best friend, because I knew the heart of the man.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.