SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
December 12, 2004
Inward Qualities More Important than Outward Appearance
1 Samuel 16:1-4b, 6-13; 2 Samuel 7:8-16
Key Verse: The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7
Gullible is not a characteristic by which we want to be known. We prefer to think of ourselves as smart, not naive. The truth, however, is that most of us are often easily fooled by the outward appearance of people. God, on the other hand, sees clearly what we often miss.
When a plump little old lady joins our church, we are all tempted to think, “The sweet thing will be good for a bowl of potato salad for a covered dish supper.” In time we may be shocked to discover that the chubby lady is a brilliant teacher of the Word. Then we have to admit again that God is right: we look on the outward appearance and fail to see what God sees.
Physical attractiveness is not one
of the qualities God looks for in choosing leaders. The story of David
underlines this truth. The prophet Samuel, assigned by God to anoint a new king
God, however, rejected each one, explaining to Samuel in this memorable passage, “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.”
It is worth noting that David, the one chosen finally, was also good looking. But it was not for his good looks that he was chosen. God saw what Samuel could not see, David’s heart. Our study today will focus on the inner qualities that God must have seen in David.
First, David could see the big
picture. He wanted to honor God, protect God’s honor, and do great things for
God. He felt himself to be on a mission for God. He was unafraid to “think big”
as he fought to strengthen
Second, David was able to think
“outside the box.” He was not bound by traditions. He cared more about pleasing
God than pleasing people. This he demonstrated by leaping and dancing before
the ark of the covenant when it was brought to
Third, David identified with his
people. He knew how to walk with the common people and learn from them. He
earned their respect by refusing to think of himself as better than others. An
example is found in 2 Samuel 23:14-17. David is thirsty for water from the well
David, however, refused to drink it, pouring it out to the Lord, saying, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who want in jeopardy of their lives?” Such an attitude inspired his followers to admire and love him.
Fourth, David possessed unusual
courage in the face of great danger. His courage no doubt came from his strong
faith in God. He faced Goliath fearlessly, believing that God would help him
defeat this formidable enemy of
Fifth, David realized the source of his strength was in God and not in himself. We find David constantly “inquiring of the Lord” what he should do. He realized that what he needed most, only God could supply. David understood that his victories resulted from the spirit of the Lord being “mightily upon him.” His downfall came about only when he thought too much of himself and forgot to “inquire of the Lord.”
As Christians we understand that we can serve God effectively only by the grace of God. Whatever our inner qualities, we are nothing without the strengthening grace of God. That being true, we must constantly seek to be aware of God’s presence with us, and never become cocky about our gifts.
The good news is that our success
is not dependant upon our being physically attractive. Abraham Lincoln was not
a good looking man, but he was a man God used to accomplish great things for
God. Like David,
We may not “look” like much to others, but if our hearts are right, God can use us in mighty ways to achieve his purposes. We may not all be able to do great things for God, but we can all do small things with great devotion to God.
We may be capable of doing more than we ever dreamed possible if we are willing to depend on God and not ourselves. David was a man after God’s own heart. Surely Paul was also, and the secret of his usefulness he made clear when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). If we would be effective servants of God, this faith must be one of the inner qualities that God sees when he looks upon our hearts.
+ + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)