A Question I Was Asked:

Was Samuel Too Concerned About Appearance?

The Question:

In 1 Sam 16:7 the Lord prompts Samuel NOT to look at the outward appearance of Eliab, which I also assume is applicable to the rest of the clan, as God's ways are not ours. Yet in verse 12 David seems to fit ALL the criteria that God told Samuel not to seek out in verse 7, for example, regarding the outward appearance. Whats up ?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay let us look at this:

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7).

Okay, let us compare that with the case of David:

So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered. "He is tending the sheep." Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one." (Verses 11-12).

Of course the Lord - through Samuel - fully intended to choose David and, I agree, that at first consideration it might appear that Samuel too was looking at the 'outward appearance,' with regard to David's good looks and ruddy complexion. But those comments are as an aside. David's fine appearance was not the reason he was chosen! It just happened that he was indeed handsome, Eliab, however, was undoubtedly taller and generally much more impressive, perhaps looking like a 'real leader.' But the real reason that David was chosen is already given in verse seven: "...the Lord looks at the heart." David's heart was right with God and God would be able to work with him (not that David was perfect, he clearly was not, but he was humble and submissive before God, always repenting of his errors when he stumbled).

Also - don't forget - that it is Samuel who is impressed by appearance in this chapter, not the Lord!

Robin A. Brace. June 25th, 2012.