Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, January 27

When they came, he 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 16:6-7

This is a portion from the wonderful story of how the young shepherd David of Bethlehem came to be anointed King of Israel. The prophet Samuel, following the Lord’s instructions, went to the tiny village of Bethlehem where Jesse, father of eight sons, lived. The eldest son Eliab was apparently a tall, statuesque man who looked just like a king should look—at least that is what Samuel thought.

But the Lord had a big surprise in store for Samuel. Instead of Eliab, David the shepherd boy was the Lord’s choice. Why? We can only guess, but I imagine it was because something inside of David shone through, some quality of heart that the Lord honored far above stature.

Theologian and preacher Peter Gomes wrote the following words about former president Jimmy Carter:

As president he exemplified mercy, kindness and humility out of his genuine Southern Baptist piety, and what did we think of that? We laughed at him, and we thought him "unpresidential." If everybody today who respects Jimmy Carter had voted for him the second time around, the course of American history might very well have changed.

We can recognize the truth in Gomes’s words regardless of our politics. It seems that he knows well this story about Samuel and David. Surely we all have something to learn, not only about how we look upon national leaders, but also about how we assess people in general.

Help me, O God, to see people as you see them. Give me wisdom in discernment, and courage to separate myself from popular opinion. Amen.