Summary: The power of God’s kingdom is living from within. Discovering the inner strength of our fellowship with God is the beginning of a marvelous journey.
Samuel was seeking a replacement for King Saul who had disappointed him. Samuel did his best to make Saul’s administration successful, but Saul failed and had to be replaced by God’s order.
1 Samuel 16:1 – “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”
Trying to find a replacement brought Samuel to Bethlehem and finally the house of Jesse. God had instructed him that he would find the next King in Jesse’s house.
Jesse introduced Samuel to seven of his sons.
“The Lord has not chosen these” (16:10).
On the surface, everything looked like a failure. When Samuel inquired if there were any more sons Jesse indicated that the youngest son was out tending the sheep. It was highly unlikely that this was the man God was looking for.
“And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and with all of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he” (16:12).
The Lord’s instruction to Samuel before going to Jesse’s house was,
“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his statue; because I have refused him: for the Lord see if not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart” (16:7).
Samuel found God’s man hidden where nobody else would have found him. That seems to be God’s pattern.
We have a habit of judging people by outward appearances. Usually, our judgment is wrong.
One thing we need to keep in mind is that God’s kingdom is not measured by human standards. What seems to be okay from a human standpoint, fails miserably from God’s point of view.
We want to call the mighty and the great, but God usually calls the humble and meek.
The world’s judgment is exterior.
God’s judgment is always by the heart.
The power of God’s kingdom is living from within. Discovering the inner strength of our fellowship with God is the beginning of a marvelous journey.
What is a parable? A parable contains a truth concealed that only the Holy Spirit can reveal. The key to every parable is the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the receptive heart.
These two parables go together. As we look at them together, we begin to get an understanding of God’s kingdom and where we actually stand with Him.
There is a hidden capability but also a dangerous threat.
Let’s look at these two parables and then come to a personal application.
I. The Mustard Seed - Speaks of Potential (13:18-19)
“He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’”
This reveals to us the character of God’s kingdom. It cannot be evaluated by outward appearances.
Samuel was instructed not to look on the outward appearance but rather the heart.
Another illustration of this would be Samson. There was no outward explanation for Samson’s strength. When somebody looked at Samson, they could not understand where his strength came from. It was not obvious to human eyes.
So is the kingdom of God. The strength of God’s kingdom is not in outward appearances.
Notice how Jesus uses the grain of mustard seed to illustrate and explain our faith.
Luke 17:5-6 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”
Although God’s kingdom has an inconspicuous beginning, according to man’s standards, it becomes great.
In the gospel of Mark, it sets it forth just a little bit differently.
Mark 4:30-32 “And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”
As a Christian, my life has great potential but not according to the world’s standard. If I compare myself to the world and its standards, I am going to be rather disappointed and even discouraged. As I give myself to the Word of God, I begin to see what being a Christian is all about. As I grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, I begin to understand the potential that God has placed within me when I was born again.