Summary: God Knows What He’s Doing 1) He detects hearts 2) He directs hearts
It’s official. President Obama as much as announced to the world last week that his country’s spy agencies don’t know what they’re doing. Obama made that comment in the wake of the failed airline bombing on Christmas Day. It turns out that American spy agencies had all the info they needed to keep that Nigerian terrorist from getting on a commercial flight. They just failed to “connect the dots” and so allowed this terrorist to come within moments of ending 250 people’s lives.
Don’t you hate it when leaders don’t know what they’re doing? Many in our province feel that way about our premier. They figure that if he knew what he was doing, our health care and economy would be in better shape. It shouldn’t surprise us when government officials don’t know what they’re doing; they’re only human. But have you ever felt that God doesn’t know what he’s doing – especially in regard to the people he chooses to lead his church? Our text today puts those thoughts to rest. God knows what he’s doing when he chooses leaders. That’s because he detects and he directs hearts. Let’s find out what that means.
Thanks to the recent terrorist attempt to blow up an airliner, you may have to step through a full body scanner before boarding your next flight. As one radio commentator quipped, “Be sure you’re wearing clean underwear!” One thing that scanner won’t be able to see, however, is your heart and mind. The scanner operator won’t know if you’re annoyed at the increased security or if you don’t mind it because you’re just so happy to be flying somewhere warm for vacation. But God can see these and every other thought. He detects what’s in our hearts.
God made that clear to the prophet Samuel in our text. The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?” (1 Samuel 16:2) Samuel was bummed because King Saul had turned out to be such a disappointment. He had started out as a humble leader but along the way thought he could do better on his own and so ignored God’s Word. This weighed heavily on Samuel, and God knew that.
Even this morning God knows what’s weighing on your heart even if no one else does. So why hold on to those cares? Hand them over to your Lord. Let him carry them for you since he already knows what they are. If we refuse to hand over our worries, we only have ourselves to blame when those concerns weigh us down to the point immobility. But perhaps you have handed your cares over to the Lord but are still having a hard time getting out of bed to face the day. If so, talk to your doctor. The weight that’s hanging over you may be physical rather than spiritual. If the chemicals coursing through your brain are out of whack, your doctor may be able to help get you back on track.
God not only knows what’s bothering us, he knows what makes us tick. And so when he sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint the next king from one of Jesse’s eight sons, he was conducting a different kind of examination of the candidates than Samuel was. When Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest son, Eliab, he was certain that God wanted this man as king. But God said: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God knew the hearts of all eight of Jesse’s sons. And he rejected them all except for the youngest, David.
What was it that God saw in David that others didn’t? It must have been the child-like faith David demonstrated later when going up against the giant Goliath. While seasoned soldiers, including David’s own brothers, cowered, David strode up to the giant confident that God would not let this oaf get away with cursing his people. And so it didn’t matter to David that he was outmatched. For David knew that the battle was the Lord’s, not his.
Still, David’s father and brothers must have wondered at God’s choice. Did he know what he was doing? David was a snot-nosed kid whose only known talent was to follow sheep around. We too may feel that way about God’s choice of leaders in our midst. Can we really trust a 27-year old Seminary graduate with a congregation? Is a staff minister really equipped to do what we’ve called him to do? Can she really handle those Sunday School kids? Does he have any idea how to get a church built? When we say things like that we’re forgetting something: formally or informally God himself has called these individuals to fill those positions of leadership. We may not think they’re up to the task but God obviously does.