But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:7, 10-13 (NRSV)
I find encouragement in the story of David. He wasn’t anyone who we would consider to be a “first pick.” He had older and stronger and more “qualified” brothers. He was consigned to the lowly and dirty job of caring for sheep. Even David’s own father considered him an afterthought. Yet God knew his heart, and God chose David over his seemingly better equipped brothers.
God doesn’t always choose the beautiful people, or the strong people, or the smart people. In fact, the theme throughout Scripture is that God equips those who He chooses. He has a real sense of humor in it too, as time and time again He chooses the underdog, the meek, the weak, the poor, and the flawed through which to do His greatest work. We discover as we study the Bible that the only real hero in the Bible is God, and that He does amazing things with and through really messed up people.
Our potential lies in what God empowers us to do, not in what the world sees in us. Even the condition of our hearts is not impossible for God to change.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 (NRSV)
When we are put in those wilderness places, when we fall short and we know full well we aren’t among the “beautiful people,” or we have been used by others and left hurting for a long time, it’s easy for our hearts to become hard. Yet God has the power to take our hard hearts and give us new ones- hearts that are after His own heart, hearts that God can use for His good purpose.
Even better news is that God brings restoration and healing to the hurting. Not only can we be put to God’s good purpose, in the process of doing His work He makes us whole.
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
Beauty for ashes. Greatness from unlikely places and from even more unlikely people. Such is the nature of God.