God Sees the Heart
Samuel the prophet was very upset. He never wanted to anoint a king in the first place but the Israelites were insistent, despite the grim warnings Samuel had given them about the dark side of monarchy. In one of the most poignant passages in the Bible, the Lord tells Samuel to give them what they were demanding even though it grieved him, as “it is not you they reject, it is me they are rejecting as their king” (1 Sam 8.7).
Saul had been a strong choice. He was, after all, a full head taller than any other candidate and had made a pretty impressive start, leading the armies of Israel to victory against the Philistines. Now, however, the wheels were falling off. Some significant character flaws had emerged and the whole kingship caper had started to turn sour. The Lord sends Samuel to Bethlehem, to Jesse’s house, to find the one He had chosen to replace Saul. Jesse sends out his big, strong sons one by one, but as impressive as they are to the eye, none of them gets the prophetic nudge in Samuel’s internal dialogue with the Lord.
And that’s because,
‘God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’
It’s the skinny youngest one who gets the gig. The shepherd boy. As we find out in the next chapter, there is more to this kid than meets the eye…
David goes on to be the great king, the template for all future kings of Israel, the unifier of the tribes of Israel and a type of the Messiah. He is one of the superstars of the story of Israel. He makes big mistakes too mind you, and gets punished for them, but the favour and love of the Lord never leave him. Talented to an extraordinary degree, David was musical, poetic, courageous, strategic, practically and emotionally intelligent and inspirational as a leader, but his real asset was his heart. David really, really loved the Lord and was not afraid to show it – even to the point of dancing and leaping before the ark of the covenant as it was being brought in procession up to Jerusalem, in his undies! (2 Sam 6.12-16)
We all do our best to present well to the world around us. Nothing wrong with that. But the Lord looks at the heart. Is your heart expanded with love for the Lord like David, or do you feel at times that your heart is a little withered inside your chest? The good news is that the Lord specialises in heart transplants. As He promised the people of Israel through the prophet Ezekiel,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove the heart of stone from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36.26)
Lord, give us a heart like David today!