1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king
over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have
provided for myself a king among his sons.' Samuel said, 'How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will
kill me.' And the Lord said, 'Take a heifer with you, and say, "I have come to sacrifice to the Lord."
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the
one whom I name to you.' Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The
elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, 'Do you come peaceably?' He said,
'Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the
sacrifice.' And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the
Lord.' 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 does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.' Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass
before Samuel. He said, 'Neither has the Lord chosen this one.' Then Jesse made Shammah pass
by. And he said, 'Neither has the Lord chosen this one.' Jesse made seven of his sons pass before
Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, 'The Lord has not chosen any of these.' Samuel said to Jesse,
'Are all your sons here?' And he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the
sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes
here.' He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.
The Lord said, 'Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.' Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and
anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David
from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
A number of years ago in a different appointment, we established a men's group which met
monthly for a time of discussion, fellowship and socialising often meeting in one of the local pubs.
On one occasion, one of the group invited a friend of his to come along and join us. He mentioned
in passing that the minister was going to be present but not to worry as he is quite normal.
When the evening came and everyone was milling around and talking, the visitor was asked by his
friend if he could guess which one was the minister. It took him 18 goes before he got it right –
and that was out of a group of 25!
Often when we look at others we make assumptions and our perceptions are coloured by our own
judgements and prejudices. As today's passage from 1 Samuel reminds us "the Lord does not
see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart". This
was certainly true in the experience of Samuel, who had to wait for the youngest son, (the one
looking after the sheep) to arrive and then to be told, he is the one, anoint him!
This truth is of course seen supremely in the Christmas story, where one who is of the line of
David, (destined to be the good shepherd) comes amongst us in poverty and homelessness,
powerless and vulnerable.
Emmanuel – God with us!
O Lord, in this Advent Season open our eyes so that we may see others as you see them, open
our hearts to love as you do and forgive us when we so quickly judge others without knowing