Today we have the first of four readings about David. The beginning of our reading reminds us of Saul, the first king of Israel. He had begun well, but soon showed that he was not fully committed to God: when faced with difficult decisions he would decide according to political expediency rather than God’s will. So Samuel was sent to anoint a successor. He had to do so with secrecy, however, for he knew he would not be safe if Saul ever found out he was looking for another king. The actual anointing was done in public – so how secret was it? We don’t know. Maybe those present assumed the anointing was for something else, like prophecy. Maybe they knew, but would not have risked telling Saul for fear that vengeance might be exacted on the whole town.
There are some useful lessons for us. One is in verse 7: God does not judge by outward appearance, but looks at the heart. The seven sons of Jesse at the feast were all fine young men, excellent material for kingship in Samuel’s eyes. Yet even Samuel could get things wrong. Today we are just as able to misjudge people – we look at a person’s education, gifts, experience, outward presentation, and judge accordingly, and if someone lacks these things we easily dismiss them. Not so God.
Another lesson is that God often chooses those whom others despise. David was not expected to come to the feast; he was left with the sheep. As youngest son he was last in the order of priorities, and not worth replacing with a hired shepherd. Yet he was the chosen one.
God looked at David’s heart. What did he see? We get a glimpse from the Psalms. It is likely that David’s character had already been formed by this time. It is possible that the thoughts expressed in Psalm 23 were already in his heart. He had learnt to trust in God completely; he had learnt to believe God is good, and that he would look after him always. So God trusted him.
1) How can we avoid badly misjudging people?
2) If God looks at your heart what does he see?