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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE HEART OF MANKIND

I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

One's heart can be described as the hollow, muscular organ that receives blood from the veins and sends it out through the arteries by alternate dilation and contraction. The heart is also described as one's mind; the source of one's intellect, conscience, emotions, personal attributes, disposition, or inner most thoughts and feelings. It is this latter description that is referred to when God looks into one's heart. God, in this case, is looking into our mind. Others cannot see into our minds. They can see actions that may result from our thoughts, but they can't see our thoughts. Only God can see the thoughts of mankind. Others judge us by our actions and outward appearance. God, however, judges us by looking into our hearts - our minds - our inner person. It is here that the real person is found.

Samuel was the last of the judges to rule over Israel. He was dedicated to the service of God, from birth, by his mother, Hannah. He was raised and instructed by the priest, Eli. During Samuel's rule, he did much to remove idolatrous worship from Israel. During his older years, he wanted to appoint his sons as judges. However, the people demanded to be ruled by a King. As directed by God, Saul was anointed by Samuel as the first king to rule over Israel. Saul was striking as a leader - head and shoulders taller that most people around him. He stood out, physically, and looked the part of leader and king. He had initial successes as king by defeating the enemy nation - the Philistines. Soon after, however, Saul became disobedient to the will of God, became a jealous and rash ruler and lost favor with God.

In the first few verses of I Samuel 16, God instructs Samuel to find another king to rule over Israel. He was told by God that the new king would be one of the sons of Jesse. Samuel went to the house of Jesse, prepared a sacrifice and called each of the sons of Jesse before him so God would show him which son was to be selected as king. The first of Jesse's sons that came to Samuel was the eldest, Eliab. The reading indicates that Elaib looked the part - tall and strong. Samuel thought, surely he was to be the new king that the Lord would select. The lesson text follows with the expression, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. Although Eliab looked the part of king, he was rejected by God.

Abinadab, the next son passed by Samuel, followed by the next son, Shammah. Likewise, the Lord also rejected them. They were followed by the next seven sons of Jesse. Each was rejected. When Samuel asked Jesse if he had other sons, Jesse replied that the youngest son, David remained but was out keeping the sheep. Samuel told Jesse to send for him. When brought before Samuel, David was just the opposite of Saul in physical appearance. Verse 12 tells us thatDavid was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. In other words, David looked like a cute little child. We learn from other texts, that David was small in stature with a slight build. David did not look like a king. However, it is evident that God does not select people to do his work based on outward appearance. Because, when David went before Samuel, God told Samuel to arise, anoint him: for this is he (Vs. 12).

What does God see when he looks into our hearts? In some hearts God may see the hate we have for Him and for others. From the heart, God may see our evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matt. 12:18-19). In other hearts, God may see the love we have for Him and for others. Remember the two great commandments? And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: .... And the second is like unto it, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Mark 12:30-31). Psalm 44:21 says that God knoweth the secrets of the heart. What we all need is a pure heart. God will curse the evil heart, but the pure heart He will bless. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:7). The heart of mankind, only God can see.