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 sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:17
Reading through Samuel, I’ve marveled at the loyalty David showed to God’s anointed King Saul, even amidst the cruel reality of twisted rage and jealousy Saul possessed. There is a lesson here from both men. Both had been chosen by God, and yet the two men couldn’t have been more different in loyalty, value, and service. Plainly, God did this for a reason: to teach us that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
God chose Saul in order to answer the Israelites desire for a human king. He chose a strong and handsome man from a wealthy family. He was a man of great stature and he had a commanding presence. He looked the part in every human way! The Lord also chose Saul from a humble family, a family that was small and insignificant. I believe the Lord chose him in the hope that Saul would remain humble because of his background. Even knowing that Saul’s hubris would defeat him, the Lord gave Saul the opportunity to succeed. Free will is a powerful thing. And Saul would always have the ability to choose the path he would take, whether it be for God or for himself.
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
1 Samuel 9:1-2
On the other hand, David was a doe-eyed boy with a faith in the Lord that struck courage in the hearts of his companions, and fear into the hearts of his enemies. Whether defeating Goliath, or defending his sheep, David’s victory always came from faith and trust in the Lord. David trusted in God regardless of his audience. His faith came from his heart, and the Lord blessed him with victory. Yet the victory of God often doesn’t look like the victory of a man. And David’s victory looked like serious defeat for many years, while the Lord worked.
Jealousy and fear became hallmarks of Saul’s leadership. From the beginning, he both loved and hated young David. David had made him look like a fool by defeating the taunting Goliath after days of humiliating and demoralizing ridicule, with nothing more than a slingshot and faith. I think this only highlighted Saul’s own lack of faith and trust in God. Still, Saul tries to stand on the side of David and the side of God. He spends half his time trying to kill David, and the other half of the time trying to love David. This must have been horribly difficult. However, Saul’s biggest fault always seemed to be that he wouldn’t take responsibility for his own shortcomings. He lacked humility. Everything that happened to him was always someone else’s fault. And every mistake Saul made he justified in some way.
David, on the other hand, abided in the Lord fully. He never put his faith in a kingdom or even King Saul, but instead his heart beat only for the Lord. To God this was a beautiful and valuable offering. Even though David was quickly anointed as king due to Saul’s folly, David would never raise his hand or his heart against him because no matter the circumstances, even if Saul’s actions were evil and dishonoring to God, David respected the Lord’s chosen, and also trusted the Lord in His promise to raise David up as King.
How often am I guilty of not trusting the Lord and His promises for me? I look at someone’s poor leadership, or their sinful actions, or their blatant disrespect for God, and my heart instantly goes to bad places. In my flesh I want justice. I want to make things right. I want to fight for the sake of God’s Name! David’s companions were the same way. Time and time again they would encourage David to kill Saul, and they’d use the justification that God had allowed Saul to fall into his hands, or they would argue that God would bless him for taking down the unrighteous king. Yet, through it all, David refused to raise a hand against God’s chosen.
Jesus did the same thing. No wonder we are constantly given the parallels between the two of them! David always tried to trust in God’s promises. Jesus perfectly trusted God’s promises. Israel didn’t want to accept Jesus because he came to the world as a servant and not a conquering king. So, too, David served and waited and trusted. Volumes of books have been written on the subject!
I want to trust God like that! Because trusting God from the heart is to mirror Jesus! And because of God, I have been given His Spirit to walk in trust. I don’t have to worry about God taking away His Spirit from me, the way He took it from Saul, because our righteousness is now Jesus. My calling is now Jesus. My redemption is set by the blood of the Lamb and no folly or failure can take that from me. So, as David did, I shall boast in the Lord alone. Because on my own, I’m no different than Saul.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31