1 Samuel 16, 6-12
Something to read
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.
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.
Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.
And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
King James Version
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the Lord."
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."
Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."
Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."
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."
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Samuel comes to Bethlehem and there is introduced to the sons of Jesse. One can imagine the sense of anticipation amongst the family as Samuel passes along the line and reviews the sons for their suitability to be the future king.
But perhaps their anticipation turns to incredulity as Samuel passes along the line, rejecting the oldest son – the tall and handsome one – and calls for the youngest to be fetched, the one who is outside looking after the sheep.
Saul seems to have come from a wealthy family; David does not. Later in the chapter we will see him unable to afford a dowry for the king's daughter. Yahweh clearly directs Samuel not to make the same mistake that was made with Saul, and points him to one who is unnoticed by the world to lead Israel forward. This points clearly forward to the New Testament, to 'God [choosing] what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…what is weak in the world to shame the strong.' (1 Cor 26:27)
Christian Aid works to empower people and communities who go unnoticed by the world today, people who are marginalised by factors such as gender, caste, race or HIV status. We do this because we believe in the possibility of transformation. And while we believe that our partners can deliver very real transformation for poor communities, perhaps the most dramatic transformation can come in ourselves. Scripture is clear that it is in the company of the lowly, the weak, the marginalised that we will discover the presence of God and God's work can be done.
Something to do
God's purposes can be worked out through some unlikely people and unlikely encounters. Think about someone who has revealed something of God to you. This needn't be anything dramatic – perhaps an unexpected act of kindness, or a smile, or a word of compassion. Give thanks for this person and pray to be open to recognising God's work when you are least expecting it.
Something to pray
Subversive God, open our hearts and minds as we seek you; help us to stand alongside all marginalised people and learn from them your purposes for the world.
Today's contributor is Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid's Church Resources Manager.