Reading people accurately—understanding their strengths and weaknesses, becoming more intuitive about the things below the surface of their skin, seeing between the lines of their résumé—is one of the great life skills we must acquire. But never forget, that even on your best day, God still sees what you don’t in people. So don’t get caught up in either the immediate or the visible. There is always more going on than what you know.
Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 11-12
The Lord spoke to Samuel: “Go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” …When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” …Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, but he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” Samuel said, “Send for him at once! We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”
I think the story of David’s anointing must have been the source for Charles Perrault’s, Cinderella, although I don’t believe he cited 1 Samuel 16. But the story has a familiar ring to it: each of Jesse’s handsome, hunky sons were paraded past Samuel, who was in town to anoint the next monarch. All seven of the brothers were hoping the glass slipper would fit his foot, which would mean, of course, the crown would follow. To match their brawny bods and olive brown skin, each of them had magnificent, godly names — “God is my father”, “My father is noble”, “Generous and Kind”.
Even the grizzled old prophet Samuel, not known for being a touchy, feely sort of guy, got sucked in by the these Bethlehem calendar guys: “Surely this is the one…surely that is the one…it’s got to be that one.” Perhaps he was so deeply disappointed in King Saul, whom the Lord had rejected as king, and for whose manic behavior Samuel certainly felt responsible since he had anointed him, that he was desperate to take the first kingly looking guy that paraded down the runway. Such is the potential for shallowness in even the best of us.
But then comes one of the greatest lessons in scripture—from no less than God himself: “Hey Samuel, what you see isn’t all there is. You are looking at certain qualities that are only on the surface. Fine! But I look deeper; I look at what is on the inside of the person—because I know the heart. You look for immediate talent, a shovel-ready monarch, but I see what a person can become. Don’t forget Samuel, when you anointed Saul, he had all those hunky qualities too—tall, handsome, and a winning personality. How’d that work out for you? Learn a lesson, my man: I look at the heart—and in David, I have found a boy that will become not just a great man and a great king, but the greatest of men, for he will be a man after my own heart.”
“I look at the heart,” says the Lord. And so should we. Of course, we can’t help but see the outward and the immediate also. We are not called to ignore that—that would be unwise. God has given us eyes and a brain, and as we make judgments about the people with whom we need to work or want to do life, those things matter. But they are not the leading indicators of supernatural anointing or prophetic potential. Those are the most important things about a person, and they are deeper than the skin, or the résumé. They reside in the heart.
The point being that in our choices, evaluations and action plans, we see only so far, but there is always more. God sees the “more.” And that is why we need to stay plugged into God’s Spirit and practice openness to God’s thoughts. Whenever we must make an important decision about a person, we should default to asking God, “So what about this person that I don’t see do you see?” And God will be faithful to tell you if you will consistently maintain an open channel of communication with him.
A great skill in life that we ought to develop is reading people. We can get better at discerning people’s strengths and weaknesses. We can even become much more intuitive about the things below the surface. Even more, we should ask for and hone a spiritual gift the Bible calls discernment. But never forget, that even on your best day, God still sees what you don’t. So don’t get caught up in either the immediate or the visible.
There is always more going on that what you know.