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Seeing Like God
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When God called Samuel to anoint a new king over Israel, the old prophet journeyed to the little town of Bethlehem. There he met the sons of Jesse. When the firstborn, Eliab, passed before the man of God, he exclaimed, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” (1 Samuel 16:6). But God said, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him” (v. 7).

How often we quickly size up a situation from our narrow perspective and assume we know just what is going on around us! I am often reminded (because of my own stumbling) of how easy it is to look at outward appearances and make judgments that are completely wrong. This was brought home to me a few years ago at a church training event.

I was asked to speak with a group of church members on spiritual gifts. We had finished a long Sabbath afternoon of seminars and the sun was just setting. The leader in charge was standing on the platform and we briefly discussed how to close the Sabbath. He then offered to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” a cappella. For some reason I thought he wasn’t being serious and made a brief comment to that affect in front of everyone.


He assured me he was serious so I stepped off the platform and sat down. Then this brother in Christ began to sing this divine song with such richness, beauty and passion that it left me in tears. I sat stunned and felt the rebuke of Samuel on my heart. Here I was teaching a class on how God gives everyone special gifts and yet I had questioned the gifts of this godly man.

After looking over all the sons of Jesse, Samuel asked, “Do you have any more sons?” Then came David, the youngest, from the fields where he had been watching the sheep. “And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!’” (v. 12).

The advice of God to Samuel is so relevant to all of us who think we can quickly “size up” people around us without being careful. Each of us would do well to hold our tongues and think about the Lord’s guidance to Samuel: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (v. 7).

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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