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Sunday, 22 October 2017

October 22, 2017

God Chooses David

God Chooses David

October 22, 2017

I Samuel 16:1-13

 

“. . . they look on the outward appearance . . .”

 

Appearance is important in our society, is it not?  We are critical about how people look. We judge people by their appearance.  We spend a huge amount of time, energy and worry as we try to look appealing, or at least acceptable to others. 

 

People magazine named Julia Roberts the most beautiful woman in the world in the year 2017.  A website did a poll and named Robert Pattinson as the most handsome man in the world.  One website combined Amber Heard’s nose and chin, Kim Kardashian’s eyebrows and forehead, Scarlett Johansson’s eyes, Rihanna’s face shape, and Emily Ratajkowski’s lips to create the perfect woman’s face.  And Women’s World has a list of the Ten Most Handsome Pastors. (Surprisingly, neither Pastor Stuart nor I are on that list.)

 

How do you feel when you see things like this? It generally doesn’t make us feel good, does it? How can we compare ourselves to that kind of standard?

 

“. . . but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

Last week Pastor Stuart told the story of the call of Samuel.  Samuel was called to be God’s voice to the people of Israel.  The people asked Samuel to give them a king.  Other nations around them had kings.  They had  prophets and judges and the people did not think the system was working well.  God granted their request and Samuel anointed Saul as the first King of Israel and Judah.

 

Saul seemed like a perfect choice. He was from a wealthy and respected family.  He was handsome and taller than anyone else in the nation.  He was impressive.  He also turned out to have a bad temper and had a hard time working well with others, especially God.  It wasn’t long before Judah broke away from the other tribes of Israel and the nation was divided.

 

But the people of Judah were not the only ones disappointed with Saul.  So was God. God was so disappointed in Saul that he ordered Samuel to prepare for the next king.  God told him to go to a man named Jesse and God would tell him which one of his sons would be the next king.

 

Samuel was a little upset by this.  He still wasn’t sure that Saul shouldn’t be king.  And he didn’t want to make Saul angry.  He did, however, go the Bethlehem, to the home of Jesse and began to assess the field of king candidates from the eight sons of Jesse.  Eliab was the oldest and Samuel thought he would be perfect.  God said no.  Abinadab was next and God said no to him, too. Then came Shammah who was also rejected. 

 

After the first seven sons were all ruled out by God as candidates, the youngest, David, was called in from the field. Here’s where it gets a little confusing.  After the first rejection, God told Samuel that “. . . they (mortals) look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

So what does the lesson tells us about David? Does it say he was loving and caring?  Does it tell us he was compassionate and sympathetic?  No, it says, “Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.”  Maybe someone could carve a statue of him someday!

 

So what did God find in David’s heart?  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure.  He was impetuous.  He made decisions that didn’t make much sense . . . like taking on a giant with just a slingshot.  He was a daring, almost reckless military general.  He danced half naked when he led the Ark of the Covenant to its new home in Jerusalem. He would end up having eight wives, the last of whom he married after getting her pregnant and having her husband killed.

 

But David never lost his desire for a relationship with God.  Even when he knew that he had broken the commandments and gone against God’s way, he came to God for peace and hope and even joy.

 

Today we began the service with a confession from Psalm 51.  It’s said that David wrote the Psalm after the prophet Nathan condemned his relationship with that last wife, Bathsheba.  Psalm 51 contains some of the most famous words in the Bible, words we sing at least twice a month. 

 

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.”

 

“ . . .the joy of your salvation . . .”  Did David know that joy?  He was forgiven by God. His relationship with God was restored. He had the promise that God would be with him in the future.

 

Remarkably, it is through David that we can all know the joy of God’s salvation.  Jesus was a descendent of David.  He was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. It was Jesus who would die on a cross for our forgiveness.  It was, Jesus, descendent of David and Son of God would be raised and defeat the power of death. It was and is Jesus who assures us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.

 

People give appearance a lot of power. Charles Revson, founder of the Revlon cosmetics company once said, “In our factory we make lipstick.  In our advertising we sell hope.”  It’s false hope, is it not?  No matter how beautiful we may appear, that beauty will not last.

 

God’s love will last, and it’s God’s love that changes our hearts.  It’s the love of God we know through Jesus and sets our hearts at peace. We are forgiven and the past is set aside.  It’s God’s love that gives us hope.  We know that nothing can ever separate us from God’s loving care.  It’s God’s love that gives us joy, joy that can never be taken away.

 

There’s nothing wrong with trying to look nice. There is something wrong when our appearance is the source of our well-being.  There is something wrong when we judge others by their appearance.

 

 We know we are accepted because of Jesus.  And while that may not change our outward appearance, it does change our heart.  And the peace, hope and joy in our hearts can be shared with others as we share with them the love of God we know through the “Son of David”, Jesus our Lord. AMEN