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.”1 Samuel 16:7
I love this story.
Samuel the prophet is on a mission to anoint the new king when he sees this very kingly looking man–it must be him, he says.
But God rejects the man, who merely looks like a king. He tells Samuel that He sees beyond the façade, right into the heart, and this is not the one.
A few verses later God tells Samuel to anoint a young shepherd named David–you know, the guy in Jesus’ line. It’s not that David isn’t handsome–the text says he is–but God doesn’t choose him for that reason.
So, what’s so special about David?
He’s a man after God’s own heart.
It’s easy to measure a person by how they seem on the outside. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to assess someone’s heart right away, and even after knowing someone for a while, it can be tricky. We are complex, made by an infinite Creator who works beyond our understanding.
We are all subject to shallow, human judgment, to others not seeing who God made us to be. Right now as I apply to graduate schools, the process worries me. It’s impossible for them to fully know if they’re choosing the right candidates for the program–even if I would be a good fit for one, will I appear as I am?
Or perhaps I want to appear a different way because I’m not the best fit. Maybe I want what I shouldn’t have.
Add severely limited space in the programs and the extreme subjectivity of it all, and I worry.
It’s hard to not be concerned with people wrongly assessing us because of our appearance or first impression. The consequences are major. How can we not be concerned?
But this passage teaches something different. The thing is that David almost wasn’t chosen. If Samuel had been doing the search alone, he would’ve surely went with his first choice, the one who looked right for the role. But God steps in. He redirects Samuel to choose David, and thus years later a Savior is born onto us in the line of David: Jesus.
Having faith is not believing that everyone will suddenly give you favor because you deserve it–having faith means trusting God to do what needs to be done to accomplish His good will. No matter the barriers, God has authority over everything. He changes people’s hearts, moves mountains, crosses seas, if it allows His will to be done.
I know I can rest in this. God will do what He must to let His will be done. Am I not applying to graduate school, living, breathing, because it has been His will so far? Thus, I trust in His will to come.
I don’t have to be afraid of almost nonexistent acceptance rates, high costs, rejection–God is above all, and everything good I have in the future is from Him and to Him. Regardless, I have what is best right now: Jesus.
Of course, the consequences are still real. I can face rejection, I can make all the wrong decisions, and I can end up losing all my dreams. Still, I have faith that the best is yet to come–I set my faith in the presence and persistence of God. To be with Him, that is His promise.
I surrender the rest to Him.