Samuel the last Judge of the people of God was given the great responsibility of anointing the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1) and so the Lord said to Samuel, “…I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons.” Samuel had experienced a series of rejections recently in his life during the last few years. First, he had heard the people cry out “but we will have a king over us” (1 Samuel 8:19) and second, when Saul was rejected by the Lord from continuing to be the king of Israel because of his disobedience to the will of God (1 Samuel 15:26). Again, in a sense Samuel would feel the rejection again at the house of Jesse when God said to him, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as a man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The people of the world generally make decisions based upon the external appearance. For that reason the religious organization that has the most appealing church building, worship service, programs, and the list could go on, all that which appeals to the eyes and ears without ever considering whether or not the truth is being taught. This is certainly not to say that the Lord’s church should not be concerned with the physical appearance of the church building, etc., but those things without the truth should not be a drawing item. Simple worship as God desires “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) in many places have become extravaganzas and events as if one were attending a show, concert, or sporting event. The extravaganza becomes the drawing power for many, but the Lord looks upon the heart.

Sometimes members of the Lord’s church fall into that same world trap of external appearances. Instead of continuing to focus upon the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:16) and its power, the focus moves to only what people see and what is appealing to them. That is not to say that the Lord’s work has to be carried out the same way in every place or even the same way from year to year, or that “spirit and truth” worship can be carried out decently and in order, but in a little different way from place to place. It is to say that truth must be present, acted upon, and preached (2 Timothy 4:2).

Samuel was ready to anoint Eliab, one of the sons of Jesse, as the next king of Israel, but God said; “Do not look at his appearance…” Samuel needed to look beyond the superficial to the deeper and that was the heart of the young man. The world needs to look beyond the superficial of the material appearance and to the heart of the gospel. The Lord’s church needs to refrain from falling into the extravaganza trap and continue to preach the faith that was once and for all times delivered (Jude 3).

by Wayne Brewer