God has rejected Saul as king of Israel and instructed Samuel to anoint "a man after His own heart" (1Sa13:14). Samuel has arrived at the house of Jesse and is meeting Jesse's sons....
1 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." 2 But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me."...
6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD."
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "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."
Not only was he depressed, but he was consumed with fear and doubt.
God has to push him to get him to the house of Jesse.
There at the house of Jesse Samuel is quick to grasp at the first available straw... Jesse's oldest son, Eliab, is an impressive man, imposing in looks and height (as Saul had been) but God says: "You look at the outside, I look at the heart."
Samuel will have to look through seven of Jesse's sons, learning seven times over to listen to God and not to grab at the obvious options. Eventually David, the eighth son, the "runt of the litter" will be summoned from the fields and the sheep before Samuel gets the go-ahead from the Lord.
We look at the outward appearance - God looks at the heart.
It's a solid reminder that we need to think carefully about the criteria we apply when we select and elect leaders. Sometimes it means that we pass over gifted and talented people, sometimes it means we get to the end of the list. Sometimes we have to wait.
Sometimes we're in real danger of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. This is especially true when our leaders have been bad.
But this is not only true for choosing leaders. It's true when we choose our friends and those who will influence our lives.
Proverbs 18:24 says: A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Let's be thoughtful about who we elect as leaders, who we choose as our friends and who we let into our hearts...