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Journey to Jerusalem Day 27

Monday, March 23 1 Samuel 16:6-13
6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” 7 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 sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.


This narrative of David’s anointing as Israel’s king while Saul was still on the throne reads like a scene with movie potential. All of Jesse’s sons participate in something like a modern catwalk, parading themselves past the great prophet Samuel while God tells him “no, no, no.”
Then, at the last minute, the ruddy, handsome hero appears. God declares “… this is he,” Samuel acts, then exits to Ramah. God acts too, and in a way that cinematographers can run wild with. The camera dollies back, the lights dim, the background music rises—you get the picture. Our contemporary imaginations are so shaped by the growing sovereignty of entertainment that it is easy to reshape antiquity to fit our man-made dream worlds that crave action heroes and happy endings.
But in this brief, ripe narrative there lies a terrifying declaration by God regarding his capacity to know, something that creates the need for Lent, a revelation that should remind us all of what our first parents felt after taking the fruit and eating: God tells Samuel “… but the Lord looks on the heart.” That gaze produces true human nakedness, which in turn produces true human shame, as surely as the sun’s rising produces a true day.
Our hearts have no shape to carry clothing in God’s sight. If we grasp nothing else this Lent, let us at least grasp this: God has no truck with our “let’s pretend” trifles. He sees our hearts as they are, not as we wish they were.


Lord Jesus, we weary of the ruses we play to bolster ourselves yet fear the fall of our masks. Have mercy on our true nakedness. Clothe us in your righteousness lest we fall away from the light of the life eternal into the dark theater of our deceits. Amen.