“When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:6-7)
Samuel’s standards are not God’s – Samuel cannot see as God sees.
“Surely” is an assumption God repeatedly fails to meet.
Samuel is not to look on his appearance BECAUSE God has rejected him (David is later described as handsome).
I love numbers, things that can be quantified and measured. Math in my later college years became my favorite subject. But God’s reality is not measurable in any meaningful way – it is not an objective reality like temperature or even softly scientific like the consumer price index.
God’s judging the heart is meant here as a positive thing. God will not evaluate us based on our observable merit to do or be but on our hearts. Our external qualifications do matter. I don’t think God would ever call me to sing, for instance.
But the heart is where God measures. And every person can cultivate a heart pleasing to God! It has nothing to do with money or appearance, natural talent or valuable experience. The heart is where God sees and where God best and most works.
I will never attain the measurable goals that haunt me. I will never be someone whom the world would judge successful or influential. But God, who sees my heart, can find me acceptable and can, in truth, make me so despite all evidence and appearances.
O God who sees – I am anxious sometimes that you can see my heart, can pierce the veil of my mind. But the heart you see and the mind you can measure can change in ways my outward person cannot. You can mold me, shape me, grow me inside – sometimes in utter contrast to what can be seen or judged. May I live today as one who wants a heart that you will find pleasing and let the outer things that cause me such inner pain fade away. Amen.