Reading: 1 Samuel 16: 6-7
Verse 7: Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Today’s passage fits our world to a tee. Modern society gloms onto trends and rising numbers and shiny images like never before. Relationships across real life and social media platforms are a hundred thousand friends wide and as shallow as the teardrop that never falls. As a whole, we prefer to stay up on the surface level because it is less commitment and there is less risk of being hurt or having to get involved.
Samuel illustrates this today. He sees the oldest son, Eliab, and is impressed. Must have been tall and handsome and well-built. Must have looked pretty kingly. Samuel thinks Eliab is the one. But then God delivers the famous line: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”. Son after son passed by. There is the definite implication made that we too should look past appearances, past the surface level, and get down into what really is important, to the core of the person: to their heart.
Of course, this is difficult. I think this is so because it costs us our most precious commodity: time. It is so much easier to just take a glance, to make a quick judgment or decision, and to move on to the next choice, the next option, the next person, the next sound bite.
But if we look at our story today and if we look at all of Jesus’ interactions in the Gospels, nothing is quick and easy. God did not settle for Eliab or even any of the other six sons who were present. Jesus did not settle for a quick yes or no answer so that He could move on to the next need or so that He could give the next parable. God invested time and waited for David to arrive – the one who had a heart for God. Jesus took the time to see each person for who they were, to really understand the need they brought, and to patiently offer them all that He could offer.
In our busy lives it is a challenge to slow down, to look beneath the surface, to invest in each other. In our faith, we are called to live in community, to love one another deeply (warts and all), and to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ through the good and the bad. To do so, we must live beneath the surface. May we delve deep this day.