“Because God Looks at the Heart”

1 Samuel 16

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Israel was a very fortunate nation. God had chosen them among all the nations in the world. We also see how they acknowledged God. During the course of time God used various means to lead them. There was a time when they were led by the judges, and Israel from the Lord. They looked around and saw what the other nations were doing. They saw that they had kings over them, and they wanted a king too.

This is a problem that continues in the church of Christ to this day. Even today there are Christians who live for the Lord but then they look to worldly religious people. And they want to do the same, even looking at the world and desire to do as they do.

This also happened to the children of Israel. Nevertheless, God told Samuel to listen to them and anoint a king over them. This was painful for God and He was disappointed with their desire, yet He gave them what they wanted. Samuel was also unhappy.

Even during Moses’ time the children of Israel tempted God by making a golden calf and worshiping it. God told Moses that He won’t go with them anymore. But Moses answered, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Ex 33:15, 16)

The Lord God in their midst was the distinguishing factor between Israel and the nations around them. When a person forsakes the Lord he becomes as common as all those around him.

God commanded Saul, the first king of Israel, to take vengeance upon Amalek. Why? While Israel was in the wilderness on their way to the promised land, the Amalekites attacked them and wanted to annihilate them. They killed some of them and made life very difficult for them.

When we walk in God’s way there will be enemies and obstacles upon the way.

Saul went with the army of Israel and conquered the Amalekites. God commanded Saul to destroy everything utterly. Saul knew what God had told him. In fact, the whole army heard it. But Saul spared the king and the best things and only destroyed the despised things.

It reminds one of Jericho where Achan hid some gold and valuable garments, whereas God commanded that Jericho and everything in it should be utterly destroyed.

It’s amazing that to this day there are Christians that find the things of this world appealing, even though they know they are accursed things. Some would even forsake their faith for the things of the world. Christians go into the world and then bring the things of the world into the church and practice them in the church.

Saul came back from the slaughter of the Amalekites and told Samuel that he had performed the command of the Lord. But the cattle that they brought back didn’t keep quiet but made a noise and Samuel challenged him. Then Samuel told him that since he rejected God’s command, God had also rejected him from being king.

This brings us to the text we have read.

When Samuel saw the first son of Jesse he was impressed with his outward handsome appearance. But God had refused him, for “God doesn’t see as man sees, because God looks at the heart”.

Man just look at the outward appearance, but God looks further than that. He sees the heart.

You might see a person, Bible in hand, on his way to church. And you might say that that person is certainly on his way to heaven. But God sees the heart and might reject that person.

God looks beyond our outward appearance and looks at the heart of each of us.

We serve a God Who looks what is inside of us. There should be no hypocrisy or deceit in us. We should serve Him with a perfect heart.

The Psalmist knew this as he writes in Psalm 139 how God knows him when he lies down and when he gets up.

Psalm 139

1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

We read in Genesis how God made man and the people multiplied. When God looked at the people He had created, He saw that the intent of men’s hearts was evil continually. But at the same time God also saw Noah’s heart that his heart was different.

You might bluff your parents, your counselor and everyone else but you will never bluff God.

Coming back to our text. After all Jesse’s sons had passed before Samuel, he asked Jesse if they were all his sons and Jesse conceded that the youngest one was tending the sheep. When they had called him, God told Samuel to arise and anoint him for he was the one.

You might despise someone but perhaps get a shock on judgement day when God says that he is the one that can enter heaven, while you might be rejected. For God does not see as man sees.

Jesus also rejected the scribes and pharisees but worked among the sinners to save them. He opposed the religious leaders. He said to His disciples that they should listen to what the pharisees and scribes preach and what they taught but not to do as they do for they preach but they didn’t keep it themselves. God saw their inside for He said to them that they were like whitewashed tombs that appeared beautiful on the outside but were full of dead man’s bones inside.

They fasted twice a week, they tithed, they were in God’s service. But God looked beyond that. They did everything to be seen by men to be righteous. He noticed that their hearts were evil.

One day a pharisee and tax collector went to the temple to pray. The pharisee prayed first, for he thought himself righteous. The tax collectors were known to be corrupt, stealing people’s money through their crooked ways.
The pharisee thanked God for his own righteousness and how he tithed and fasted and prayed, and that he wasn’t like other evil people of the world or like the tax collector.
But when the tax collector prayed he was so ashamed of himself that he would not even look up, and only prayed a short prayer crying, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. And Jesus said that of these two, it was the tax collector that went justified to his house. God didn’t even hear the prayer of the self-righteous pharisee. God saw the hearts of both.

The one who humbles himself will receive mercy, but the one who thinks himself righteous will not receive mercy.

You can bluff people but God sees your heart.

You can also do many good things but still be rejected for God looks at the heart. He sees your motives.

We too today must look at our hearts and make sure that we are justified by His grace.

That’s why Paul said to Timothy that the last days will be difficult times, for “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God? having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2Tim 3:2-5)

What’s your heart like? What does God see?