Lesson Fifty


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Memory Verse: Proverbs 8:33
Further Study: 1 Samuel 16; Patriarchs and Prophets, 632-644; The Bible Story, vol. 3, pp. 185-192

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). These are familiar words. And we understand the message: Just because someone looks good, it may not reflect what is really going on inside.

Saul was chosen by God because he looked the part. People saw his height, his bearing, and instantly imagined a king. Samuel looks at Jesse’s eldest son, Eliab, who’s tall and handsome, and makes the same mistake. Two men, both handsome, but the wrong choice. We get it. God isn’t looking on the outside, but the inside.

Enter David. How is he described? Ruddy, handsome, with beautiful eyes—another good-looking person! Yet, there seems to be a difference.

Enter David. How is he described? Ruddy, handsome, with beautiful eyes—another good-looking person! Yet, there seems to be a difference.

When Samuel asked Jesse whether he has another son, note several things: 

  • Jesse didn’t reference David by name. 
  • David wasn’t invited to the feast. 
  • David would never have been invited had Samuel not insisted. 
  • David was doing a job normally given to a servant. 

This seems unusual. David is handsome, so others should be attracted to him, as they were to Saul and Eliab. Why is he treated differently by his family?

Depending on the commentary you read, there are any number of speculations. We know David is young. We don’t know his age, but it is suggested he could have been anywhere between ages 10 to 15 when this occurred. He’s described as “ruddy,” or “red.” Again, pure speculation, but some believe his skin tone might have been markedly different—perhaps paler, demonstrating some sunburn or just the opposite, much darker tan, due to frequent exposure to the sun. Another suggestion is that he might be from a secondary wife or concubine, meaning he may not be fully recognized as Jesse’s son—yes, biologically, but not in the true line of descendants.

Outward appearance isn’t referencing only beautiful people, but also those who are marginalized for no fault of their own—their birth, race, age, or gender.

These suggestions potentially expand the meaning of verse 7. Outward appearance isn’t referencing only beautiful people, but also those who are marginalized for no fault of their own—their birth, race, age, or gender. How often are we set aside or overlooked for reasons we cannot change? Or should we ask the harder question: how often have we done the same to someone else?

Obviously, the biggest takeaway is that God looks past all of this and sees the heart. No matter his appearance or how others saw him, David’s heart was different. His time shepherding, experiencing God’s creation, was complemented by a heart open to God’s leading and the whispers of the Spirit. We know this because of what David does after he is anointed, a significant and unexpected life event. He goes back to the field. He doesn’t boast of being better than his brothers. He doesn’t calculate the best way to overthrow Saul and take the throne. He simply goes back to work. He goes back to being David, no different to his family than when he arrived at the feast, yet he was different to God. 

God sees us as we are and recognizes what we can become.

God sees us as we are and recognizes what we can become. God needs you in spite of your appearance or circumstances. We don’t need to be famous. We don’t need to be important. We don’t need to be powerful. We don’t need to carry great responsibilities or be called for leadership. And we should state the obvious—we don’t need to be good-looking by man’s measurements. We simply need to have hearts completely open to Him, ready to serve, learn, commit, and be renewed. And might I add, it’s actually what a “beautiful” person looks like.

Digging Deeper 

In the last part of 1 Samuel 16, we discover that David was well-known for his music. He’s called to Saul’s tents to play his harp and sing as a way to soothe Saul. David lifts his voice in song and acknowledges God, and it’s through this that Saul’s evil spirit leaves and offers him rest.

Something key happens in chapter 16 between verses 13 and 14. In verse 13, we read that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon David, while in verse 14, we read that the Spirit of the Lord leaves Saul. This is the beginning of the rise of David, blessed by God, and the decline of Saul, who has turned away from God.

The challenge in the text is that what troubles Saul is often translated an “evil spirit” that originates from God. This isn’t actually the best translation. It should be read as an injurious or troubling spirit, which we might equate today to depression, moodiness, or gloominess. As Saul’s story unfolds, it would seem he is exceedingly troubled leading him to make unwise, rash, and senseless decisions.

Thus, we are able to see how a walk with God with a mind centered on Him benefits us in blessings of encouragement, strength, and power as opposed to being independent of the mind and plans of God.


Making it Real

Music is known as a powerful influence over our minds. Thus, it’s important when choosing music that it is uplifting and encouraging. Here are a few ways you and/or your family can use music during worship time. These can be done as one person alone or with others. Note how you feel before you begin and how you feel when you are finished. I believe you will see that the Spirit is able to penetrate the heart and mind through hymns and songs.

  1. We don’t know what psalms David might have composed as a teenager tending his flock, but we do know that he brought his experiences into his psalms. Take time to read one of these psalms each day: Psalm 8, 19, 23, 29. Read the psalm aloud and imagine it being sung. You could also choose one psalm and read the same one each day, but from a different translation.  
  2. Are you musical? Here’s a challenge for you this week. We have the lyrics of the psalm, but not the music. Compose a tune for Psalm 23. Practice it each day. Teach it to your family or let the family help in the creation. Sing the psalm for worship at the end of the week.
  3. Each day, select a hymn from the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. Read the hymn aloud—don’t sing it. Hymns are like psalms. Concentrate only on the lyrics. At the end of the week have a sing-along and sing the hymns you read during the week.


Respond & Share

How does music affect your spirit? Share with us in the comments below!


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


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