1 Samuel 16:1–13 (NRSV)
Chapter 16The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons." Verse 2Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.' Verse 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you." Verse 4Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, "Do you come peaceably?" Verse 5He said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Verse 6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the Lord." Verse 7But 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." Verse 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one." Verse 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one." Verse 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen any of these." Verse 11Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here." Verse 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one." Verse 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
During this week’s Lenten journey, we’ll look for where God is loving us and the world. Today, we find God loving David, Jesse’s youngest son, who was serving in a lowly shepherd role. Without God’s guidance, Samuel might not have recognized a shepherd as “king material.” Like Samuel, do we judge by appearances? For example, our communities are enriched because people across diversity’s continuums—race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, abilities, and more—serve capably in many roles. Nevertheless, folks tragically imply some people “don’t look the part.” However, today’s verses reveal that whether people are in lowly roles like shepherds or powerful positions like kings, God calls people to serve based on what God sees on their hearts (16:7). During our Lenten journeys, let’s look beyond appearances and, instead, let’s look on people’s hearts as God does. That’s where we can find God loving us and the world.
All-seeing God, forgive us when we wrongfully judge people by their appearances or statuses. Help us look on all of your children’s hearts and love them just as you love them. Amen.