Can’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

A month or so ago, my husband and I bought 2 small rose bushes to put in front of our windows. One was larger than the other and appeared as though it were thriving well, even producing a couple beautiful roses. The other one was smaller in size and seemed ok but we weren’t sure how well it would do. We brought them home and set them outside until we were ready to dig the holes and plant them.

Fast forward one week when we finally got around to planting them. Plant #1 was still looking great and had a few beautiful pink roses on it. Plant #2 looked like it wasn’t doing too well. We added fresh dirt to the hole that was mixed with a little compost to help the bushes out some and planted the rose bushes and watered them, hoping plant #2 would survive. As weeks went by we noticed something. Plant #2 began to thrive, expand and grew some beautiful roses as we continued watering it. Plant #1, however, didn’t seem to take to the planting as well as the other bush had. It was producing some flowers, but not growing as well as the other, although it’s getting all the same care. I’m sure it will take time to adjust as it could be experiencing some shock to the change of environment. At this time, plant #2 is thriving well and plant #1 is still lagging behind some, though it’s still producing some flowers. Watching my bushes on a daily basis had me thinking about how we judge people.

The people of Israel wanted to be the same as the other nations and have a king rule over them. A king they could physically see. They did not want to be set apart any longer. Samuel and his sons had been their judges, but Samuel was old and his sons did not walk in his ways (1 Samuel 8). They demanded a king. Samuel brought this matter to the Lord who told him to heed their voice as they are not rejecting Samuel but are rejecting God. Samuel was also instructed to forewarn the Israelites and show them the behavior of the king who would reign over them (vs 9). You can read the warnings in verses 10-18.

In order to be like everyone else, the Israelites would also be restricted like everyone else. It would have been much better for them if they would have follow God’s ways and be governed by Him than to be like other nations. In chapter 9, Saul is chosen to be king and was anointed by Samuel. Saul had all the looks of a king and verse 2 gives us a brief description of him:

1There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

Saul looked the part of a king, but later on in the scriptures, we find that he didn’t have the heart of a king nor the heart for God. He was impatient and feared what the people thought of him, worrying they would walk away. He was also jealous when David received more attention than himself. Because of his concern over what other people thought, this caused him to become disobedient to God and what He wanted Saul to do.

Many times we make a judgement call based on a person’s appearance. If they look good and appear well kept, and even show signs of being a “good” person, we think they must be trustworthy, a hard worker, and have the betterment of others in mind. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Many times you can tell the true character of a person by how they react under pressure or when they are taken out of their comfort zone or environment and put into an environment they are not used to. It’s never easy to act correctly all the time, but when we are in the fire and under pressure, this is when we can see what type of person we truly are and can take the opportunity to make changes within ourselves once we recognize it.

God had rejected Saul because he feared the people more than God, causing Saul to be disobedient. Saul’s heart wasn’t for God. Thus, Samuel was sent on a journey to anoint another king. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that God was pointing out to Samuel what He was looking for because Samuel was pretty sure when he saw one of David’s brothers, that he was the one to be king:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God was looking for someone particular. The first king looked the part but didn’t have the heart. This time, God was leading Samuel to someone who would have God’s heart in mind and get the job done no matter what people thought of him. He would be a true leader.

Samuel eventually came to David who was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. A teenager actually. Verse 18 tells us that David was “a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, a handsome man, and the LORD was with him.” David took care of his father’s sheep and protected them at all costs. We can find this in 1 Samuel 17:34-35:

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.

David was the one God told Samuel to anoint as king. In 1 Samuel 17 we see David’s courageous heart for the Lord when Israel faced the Philistines in battle and became fearful of one man, Goliath, who was 6 cubits and a span, which is about 9 feet 6 inches tall. Goliath taunted the Israelites every morning and evening for 40 days (verse 16) which intimidated them. In fact, verse 11 states Saul and all the Israelites were “dismayed and terrified”. One thing we must always remember is that the enemy will always try to stop you in your tracks through fear and intimidation. He will taunt you verbally to wear you down yet try to get you to fight on his terms when you do not have confidence that God will provide in the situation. We can see in verses 8-10 an example of this intimidation technique:

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”

Later when David came along, he was not intimidated by Goliath’s size nor his taunts. He began asking questions to the other men about what was going on and who Goliath was. Other men overheard the conversation and informed Saul, who then sent for David. Pay close attention to their conversation:

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

Saul was concerned for David but was not looking at David’s heart. He was basing everything on his age and experience pointing out that Goliath had way more experience in battle than David. Often times we tend to think that if someone is older and more experienced, they will be right for the job, but that isn’t always the case. Paul had understood this with Timothy when he sent him to a church Ephesus. Timothy was a young Pastor and had some heavy challenges at the church and Paul encouraged him by saying, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (vs 12). Paul knew it was all about the heart. It’s true, David was young, but there were things that he had experienced while working with the sheep that had prepared him to battle something bigger. Remember in verses 34-35 when David was informing Saul about his battles protecting the sheep and how he had fought bears and lions and killed them? David, in his own situations, had also experienced battle, going up against some pretty strong animals. It took a lot of faith in God and courage to obtain victory. Now, after all the victories, God was positioning David to go against something bigger and stronger. He just had to have the heart and the faith in God to be victorious. The fact that David was young and seemingly inexperienced by man’s standards, did not deter God in the least from using David. In fact, this battle is just the beginning of the stepping stones leading David towards becoming king in time while glorifying God in the process.

Once Saul agreed to David fighting Goliath, he tried to fit David with his own armor. David realized quickly that Saul’s armor did not fit him well and chose not to wear it. David knew that Saul’s armor would hinder him in battle because the armor was too big and he pointed out that he had not tested it (NIV states he was not used to the armor). There are two things we must be careful of: 1. Allowing others to fit us into something larger than what we can handle. 2. Trying to fit ourselves into something that may be too big for us and difficult to handle, therefore hindering our walk and prohibiting victory. David recognized he couldn’t fit into Saul’s armor comfortably and took it off. Though the armor was good protection and sturdy, it would do David more harm than good in the end because it was fitted for Saul and not David. Instead, David took his staff, 5 smooth stones and his sling to go into battle with him. But he had one thing that would surely give him victory…faith in God. Pay attention to his words:

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

David’s size and appearance didn’t matter. It was his heart. He had a heart for God and what He wanted and he had faith that God would bring him victory. Most importantly, he gave the glory to God. When we have faith in God, we have the confidence we need to move forward when we know that is where God wants us to go.

Our society has a tendency to judge by appearance, looks and even age. We sometimes overlook those who have the heart to for a job, but end up choosing the one who either looks the part or talks a good game…until that person is put in the fire and under pressure and their true character comes out. David did not allow the size of Goliath, nor his taunting words, to sway him or cause him fear. He saw what had to be done for the sake of the people and trusted that God would bring him victory. He didn’t allow his brother’s negative words to stop him or drive him off (vs 28), but instead kept his focus on what needed to be done. Sometimes those who are supposed to be supportive and on our side can actually be a hindrance by their words and actions. When this happens, we must keep our focus on Christ and the mission and continue moving forward.

David killed and defeated Goliath but did not become king until years later at the age of 30. In between that time, David went through many years of tests and trials to build his faith and prepare him to rule. His years watching his father’s sheep and protecting them was part of that preparation. It was a daily task and no doubt not a very exciting one (except for the bears and lions!), but he kept at it, protected the flock, and at times delivered them out of the enemy’s mouth. And when the enemy turned on David, he faced it, struck it and killed it. He was undaunted by the enemy’s size or strength. His concern was for the flock. When facing Goliath, his concern was for the people and for God’s honor. And as king he had the same concerns. He wasn’t a perfect man and made many mistakes, but when it came to God, God’s heart was what mattered to him the most. And this is why God chose David.

So how does my rose bushes tie into this? It taught me that not everyone is as they appear to be. Sometimes you can have two people, one who looks big and strong and one who appears smaller and weaker. You can transplant them to a different environment, give them the same care and nourishment, but they may not always continue growing at the same rate or the same way. The one that appeared strong at first, may not be able to handle the change of environment while the one that appeared to be weaker, may now be thriving and growing from the change and their true attributes come out. Many times the real test of who a person really is comes from change and pressure. Some can handle it and some can’t. This doesn’t mean you stop giving that person care and nourishment who seems to be weakening by the change. It simply means you continue providing it all the more, but realize they may have to step back to a place where they can heal and grow from until they are ready or are in a place that is right for them. We do, however, have to be cautious and discerning of those who are deceiving as well. There are some who will try to fit themselves into something bigger than they are ready for simply for personal gain. This is where godly wisdom is needed. As with Saul and David, they were different in several ways…appearance, size and spiritually. Two could be seen by the naked eye. One could be seen through discernment and when they were under pressure.

Take a heart check today and get with God and ask Him to show you your heart. Do you tend to judge by appearance and looks or do you use godly wisdom? You could be overlooking a David.