In the last article, Anatomy of the Human Heart, I introduced this series and gave a little background before we were given the story of David’s life. I learned from King Saul that whatever is in our hearts affects the decisions we make in life. Our affections influence our direction. Since the heart’s default is inclined towards making wrong choices (Genesis 6:5), we know we will have the tendency to take the wrong direction in life as well. Jeremiah said something about this case too. He said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). This is the heart of the problem, called by theologians the “sinful nature.”
Today’s blog will focus on how God dealt with this human problem. But first, take a look at the picture below. Are the two hearts inside of the same color? Click on the picture for a larger view. After you have decided, click here to take a look at the same picture but without the colored squares.
They are not of the same color, are they? The surrounding squares give the illusion that the two hearts inside are the same. It is the same with how we look at things in life also. We tend to focus on what’s outside instead of the more important value inside.
Moving on to 1 Samuel 16, we will find in the first verse that Samuel was grieving because God rejected Saul’s kingship. Then God told him to go to Bethlehem saying that He has prepared for Himself a king among the sons of Jesse. It is in this story we will find one of the most quoted verse in 1 Samuel:
For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV).
When people look for what is pleasing superficially, God inspects what is inside. Since God knows what is inside of man (his motives, feelings, and desires), He is the one who knows best the right decisions to make. That’s the principle for today: God’s inspection is the reference to the right direction.
So What If God Looks at the Heart?
Three things to apply in our lives knowing that God looks at the heart:
First, we should look beyond the appearance. We thought that the appearance is all that matters. But for God, the heart is what matters most. The core, the center, the inside of man’s personality is what’s important for God. Therefore, in every decisions to make, we don’t just look at how situations appears to be. We should also look inside, test our motives and desires. Are they in line with what God wants for us? Or are they self-centered and focused only on what we can get instead of how much help we can give to others and glory to God.
Secondly, we should look beyond the performance. I’ve learned this from studying the names of David’s brothers. Maybe for us today, our names mean nothing. But for them, their given name somehow reflects who they are in life. David’s eldest brother Eliab’s name means “God is father” or “God of his father.” Abinadab means “father of willingness.” Shammah means “astonishing” or “shocking.” There is a reason why these three names were mentioned and the rest of the brothers were not. This tells us that it doesn’t matter how godly, willing, or astonishing we are at our performances in life, what matters most is our heart’s status before God.
Interestingly, David’s name means “beloved.” And it tells us that God’s choice of David is not based on who David was but on how much God knows David’s heart. David is a beloved of God and expresses this truth in the psalms he composed for Him.
Lastly, we should look for God’s assurance. Surely Samuel didn’t think that God would choose a king out of a shepherd boy. But God assured him of His choice with His word and His work. He commanded Samuel, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Right after that, the next verse continues with “and the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.” Not only did God assured His choice with a command, He also sent His spirit to work in David’s life. To know the right things to do in life, we need to trust God’s word and let His spirit work in us. That’s the only way how our hearts can be kept in check.
When we are sometimes fooled by our own hearts, remember this verse from 1 John 3:20b,
God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
God wants to change our hearts from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. He wants our hearts to follow only what is in His heart. It is only God who knows our destination. Only when He is our affection can we find the right direction.