“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7 CSB)
God rejected Saul as king because of his disobedience and sent Samuel to the home of Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint a new king. Samuel went there for that purpose, and also to offer a sacrifice so as to keep Saul from getting suspicious.
Samuel had Jesse bring his sons before him one by one, and with each one he thought that surely this one must be the Lord’s anointed. He went through all the seven sons of Jesse who presented themselves, but with each one the Lord told Samuel, “No, this is not the one.”
In this process the Lord spoke a clear message to Samuel. Samuel was looking at physical appearances, at stature. That is likely one of the reasons Saul had been chosen, since he was a head taller than anyone else. So the Lord taught Samuel that leadership is not dependent on appearances or on the physical. What God was looking for was for someone who had a heart like His own, and the Lord is capable of seeing into the heart. So he told Samuel to keep looking.
So Samuel asked Jesse, “Do you have any other sons?” Jesse told him he did have one other son who was tending the sheep. Samuel send for him and delayed the meal until David could arrive. When he came in the Lord said, “Anoint him, for he is the one.”
There is some tendency within us to assume that someone who has a strong physical presence and appearance and stature can make a good leader. But the reality, the real truth, is that it isn’t what is on the outside that counts in leadership but what is on the inside. Matters of the heart are far more important in leadership. That is what we should look for in leaders, and that is what we should aspire toward as leaders. We need to set our hearts on a course that leads us into full harmony with the heart of God.
Lord, May our hearts truly be hearts after Your own heart, so we may serve and influence in ways that glorify You. Amen.