We all know the phrases 'First impressions count' and 'Don't judge a book by its cover'. We know the power of first impressions, yet we also know there is wisdom looking deeper for a more informed understanding. Samuel was a man of God who spent much time seeking Him and listening for His voice. He was given a job by God to call out the new king of Israel.
Samuel was told to go to Bethlehem and find a man Jesse, for one of Jesse's sons was to be the new king. That was all the detail he got - which is kind of odd since Samuel had done this job before. He had once been told to anoint Saul king, and in chapters 9 & 10 you can see he was given prophetically all kinds of detail for how that episode would pan out. Yet here its just the town and the father. Let us learn that it is up to God how much detail he reveals, our job is to trust God and go with it!
So Samuel goes, and with Jesse arranges a meal for his sons. The first son Eliab comes in and what a fine young man! You don't get much better looking than him ... but God says 'no'! Don't judge a book by its cover, a person by their appearances. Instead look like God does - into the life, into the heart.
So the 2nd walks in - also a looker but not the one. Then the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th and so on through the 7th. All 7 look great, but not the one God has picked out. By now Samuel can be forgiven for doubting what he thought he had heard from God. Had he got the right town, the right Jesse, or did God even give him this direction at all! Be honest, all of us would have these thoughts if we were now in this situation.
Yet Samuel persists and asks if there is an 8th son. There is. He is the youngest, out with the sheep, doing the menial work. Note at this point he isn't even named - presumably he is seen by the family as the no-hoper. He is sent for, and like is brothers is a good looker too. Yet far more importantly God says 'this is the one'.
Remember that God sees the heart, the inside, the spiritual, the true stuff of life. This is what we are to do. Recall from last time the passage 2 Corinthians 10:3 - 5 that we are to be about the spiritual. Yes it is a fight out there and the world will do its thing, but we are to be different, looking at the spiritual realm - what is going on behind the scenes.
Now this 8th son was David and he became the greatest king of Israel. Remember that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the line of David. David sets the reference point! Yet where were the seeds of this greatness? It was out in the fields, in the quiet, doing the menial shepherd work. Here David contemplated and prayed, perhaps even composing some of the psalms we know and love. This was his basis for serving God as king of the land, for when it comes down to it, you can't beat hours and hours spent with God. Hence our key question:
Key Qn: [UP] Where is your 'quiet place?'
Challenge: Find your quiet place / Discipline of OFF
The call to blokes (as well as women of course) is to put in those hours seeking God. Be the person who does this. Have that discipline of turning things off so you can be quiet with God.
In verse 13 Samuel then anoints David, and the Spirit comes powerfully on him. David was able to do what he did because he had a servant-heart (menial work had not been beneath him), he had spent lots of time with God, and he became anointed spiritually. Now most of us think 'Yeah, certain special people get especially anointed and can do great things - but I am just normal and so this doesn't apply to me'. For sure God does call out certain people for special anointing, both then and now. Yet to solely focus on that misses a crucial point: we now live in an age of widespread anointing.
Last Sunday was Pentecost - the wholescale outpouring of the Spirit. Following Jesus isn't just something we think and do, but includes this filling of the Spirit to live our own anointed life. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18 - 22 says 'Our message is Yes in Christ, God makes you & me stand firm - He anointed us - set his seal of ownership on us, put His Spirit in our hearts'. John also writes 'But you have an anointing ... the anointing you received remains in you'. Anointing is for all believers!
So men (and women): find your quiet place, be up for the menial/boring jobs as much as any other, learn to see things Spiritual (beyond the first appearances), and step up into the anointing He has for you!