The Perception of Man

I Samuel 16:1-13 “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord:  sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. 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. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this. Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.”

Text I Samuel 16:7 “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

The divine principle within I Samuel 16:7 should generate a state of comfort as well as caution. While it is true that “the Lord looketh on the heart” it is necessary to remember that “man looketh” too! Even though it is unfair to judge someone from an outward perspective; none the less that is the only perspective from which man can work! God may be able to see the character of the heart but man is confined to visible conduct. Ultimately, there are two areas that are being judged as others scrutinize the evidence gathered from observing one’s life; you, and your God. David is primarily known for slaying two men; Goliath of Gath (I Samuel 17) and Uriah the Hittite (II Samuel 11). When Goliath was slain, the words of David were sealed in the hearts of all men, “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (I Samuel 17:46). But the day Uriah died the scrutiny of men was revealed in the words of Nathan the prophet, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (II Samuel 12:14). May this remind each of us that we have the potential of either magnifying or belittling our God in the eyes of men! While God may forgive, men seem never to forget; especially the sins of others. The perception of man may be flawed, but what is worse is that for many it is final. They die lost because they are driven away rather than drawn to God by what they saw in the life of another!