Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, steps forward. He looks promising. He looks like a king. But looks can be deceiving. Eliab’s name means “God of his father.” He represents those who rely on ancestry, tradition, rituals or family heritage. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, these hearts are inflated with pride. God does not call Eliab “a man after my own heart.”
God says to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. . . . Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).
“Next,” Samuel says.
Abinadab bows his head and smiles. With a name that means “father of generosity,” it’s no surprise to see receipts peeking from his pocket, evidence of his good deeds. He buys food for the hungry. He builds shelters for the homeless. He’s a pillar in the community. But the foundation of his life is built on sand. He trusts in his own works. He thinks that what he does earns him favor with God. It doesn’t.
“The Lord has not chosen this one either,” Samuel says.
Shammah wipes his nose on his sleeve. Shammah—“ruin, desolate, waste”—the name fits. The heart doesn’t. Shammah cares only about himself. He lives for pleasure. He squanders resources and buries talents. Jesus calls him an unprofitable servant. Samuel calls him to move along.
“Nor has the Lord chosen this one,” Samuel says. He squints at the seven sons. He smoothes his beard and sighs. “Are these all your sons?”
“There’s one more,” Jesse says, “His name is David.”
Like Cinderella stepping into her own glass slipper, David steps into the group of would-be kings. God confirms what no one suspected: “He’s the one. Rise and anoint him. His heart matches mine.” David—“loving, beloved”—has a heart that loves as God loves, that wants to love God most. The oil warms David’s hair as Samuel anoints him king of Israel.
How can David, a soon-to-be adulterer and murderer, wear the label “man after God’s own heart”? The same way we can—by letting God change our hearts. David’s heart wasn’t perfect, but he was willing to let God perfect it. When we fail, we can pray with David, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). God will transform our hearts to fit His. He’ll make us men and women after His own heart. And that’s no fairy tale.
Copyright © 2010 Sherrie Lorance. All rights reserved.