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 sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance,
But the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
Chapter 11 of The Story focuses on David, from his early days as a shepherd boy to the time when he would lead God’s people as their king. His background was nothing special. He was the youngest of eight brothers. He was looked over because of his age and size, but God looked to something more. He looked at his heart. It can be so easy for us to overlook people because of outward appearances. “This person is too small; this man is too old or young; this woman is too weak,” we say. We fall into the trap of viewing everything with our eyes, making quick judgments. And that is the amazing thing about God. Not only are we loved in spite of our supposedly faulty outward appearances, but we are viewed by our character, and heart.
The story of David is largely a showcase of his character. Every detail of his story is based on decisions governed by his God-given character. After David has been anointed as the future king of Israel, we see his character once again, leading up to the battle with Goliath. David’s brother admonishes him for even being in the presence of the army. King Saul mocks him for being too young and for even entertaining the idea of battling the giant. And yet it’s David’s character that leads him to trust completely in the Lord that drives this request. David is victorious not because of his own doing but because of complete trust and faith in the Lord. His lack of age, size, and experience would surely mean death in this situation if his heart was not completely focused on the Lord.
I often wonder what life would be like if my focus was less on my ability, or lack thereof, and more on trusting that God will do great things in spite of these outward appearances. Character is formed this way. When we continually trust in God’s ability rather than our own, our character develops in amazing ways. We begin to see ourselves and others with fresh eyes that are much less focused on outward appearances and more on who we truly are as God’s children.
David’s heart remained focused on God as he grew in stature and prestige among God’s people. His decisions were driven by obedience and complete dependance on God. When Saul began to persecute him he did not begin to rely on his own abilities but constantly sought God for direction. He acted time and time again out of his trust in God, not seeking vengeance on Saul but seeking refuge in the Lord. It was not yet David’s time to take the throne.
At the passing of Saul and Jonathan, David mourned for his oppressor and his brother. Then, it was time for him to take his place as king of Israel. David’s devotion to the Lord had led him to this place. His character had guided him along the way. Each decision that was pleasing to the Lord helped direct and shape him. And so it is with us.
In our own lives character is formed from adversity. It is hard fought. It is shaped by doing what is right by God even when we don’t think we can. Character is often wrongly judged by outward appearance among men. But God sees the heart, and we are all the wiser when we realize that and live by it. Our character grows because of this revelation.