Summary: God looks on the heart not on the outside. The human ruler is at his most kingly when he bows before God, freely, willing, and out of love for God.

By Guerin Tueno

What a disaster!

King Saul has gone from being the golden boy of Israel to the John Elliot of the Old Testament.

Saul’s reign was like a roller-coaster ride.

Started low, but then he shot up as King, and then down again.

He misunderstood who’s really in charge.

God isn’t some lucky mascot to drag around with you next battle.

Saul repeatedly failed to obey God.

He developed the bad habit of blaming others:

"It was my soldiers’ fault – they made me keep the good stuff"

He’s a bit vain – erecting monuments to himself.

And God has had enough.

Samuel told Saul that God is going to take away the kingship from his family and give it to someone else.

Someone after God’s own heart – who’ll care about God cares about; who’ll obey God and not forget who’s really King.

Have you ever imagined yourself as a character in the Bible?

I’ve always found the idea of being an Old Testament prophet pretty appealing.

You know, wild hair, wilder taste in clothes and getting to say in a deep voice:


But being a prophet would have had to be one of the scariest job’s going.

Poor Samuel.

He was the one who told Saul he’d failed and would lose the crown.

If I were Samuel, I would have been expecting a date with the pointy end of a spear.

And now God tells Samuel it’s time to anoint someone to eventually replace Saul.

Naturally enough Samuel believes this will cause Saul to declare open season on him.

The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons." And Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me."

So God gave Samuel a plausible reason for going out that wouldn’t get his killed, along with directions on where to go, and what will happen.

And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, ’I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you." Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem.

Eventually Samuel found Jesse and his sons.

Not an important family.

Often in the Old Testament, the writers give us someone’s family tree to show that their important, with great ancestors. But this is just Jesse of Bethlehem. Nobody special.

Samuel’s eyes look around and settle on Jesse’s son Eliab.


Good build.

Can probably wield a sword all right.

Would look good on stamps and coins.

Perfect! This one will do just fine!

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him." 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 mortlas see: they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

Samuel, you’re judging from the outside.

I’m concerned with what’s inside.

Saul looked right externally, but I rejected him because of his attitude to me.

I’m not a lucky charm.

I’m not a pet God to do tricks.

I want a king who’s on my side.

Someone with a heart after mine.

Someone who’ll put me first, and not himself.

Someone who cares about what I care about.

I’ll tell you who to anoint, because I see inside and out.

So Samuel worked his way through the other six sons.



I don’t think so.



No way.

Is that all you’ve got?

Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, " There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here." And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he."

But he’s just a kid!

Cute, sure, but just a kid!

Like in Lord of the Rings, when Boromir learns that little, unknown, insignificant Frodo Baggins is the one who carries the future of the world.

But God sees inside.

This child is to be the King after God’s own heart.

Bizarre as it must have seemed to Samuel, Jesse, not to mention David’s big brothers, Samuel anoints David.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

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