The Shepherd King

1 Samuel 16*

Samuel’s heart was sad as he walked toward Bethlehem.

He had hoped that Saul would be a good king, but Saul’s actions quickly showed that his heart didn’t trust God. Without faith he could never lead Israel well, so Samuel was going to find the new king God had chosen. A man named Jesse lived in Bethlehem. One of his sons would soon wear the crown. Samuel went to meet them, but when they arrived he nearly passed out! Jesse had so many sons! How would he know the right one?

Samuel examined them with his eyes. King Saul had been really tall and super strong. Samuel searched for a son that was built like an ox. Ah, Eliab. The oldest. Easy peasy, thought Samuel. That’s what kings look like! God interrupted Samuel’s thoughts. “I’m not like you, Samuel. I don’t look at the outside of a person. I look where no one else can, the heart. Eliab doesn’t have the right heart. I want My king to have a heart that trusts me.” So Jesse’s other sons came forward, one by one, to be inspected by Samuel. He tried to look past their handsome hair and strong shoulders and peer into their hearts, but Samuel didn’t have those kind of eyes. Seven times, he heard God whisper, “That’s not him.” Finally, Jesse sent to the fields for his youngest son, David, who was tending the smelly sheep. David was a small boy with pink cheeks and bright eyes, and when he arrived, the excited voice of God told Samuel, “This is him! What a beautiful heart he has!” Samuel tilted his head and eyed the boy, trying to imagine a crown on his head and a sword in his hand. All he saw was a shepherd boy in need of a bath. Still, he trusted that when God looked at David, He saw a king. Samuel lifted his horn, spilled oil on David’s head, and said, “You will be king of Israel.”

When Jesus came to this world, no earthly eyes could look at him and see a king. People’s eyes could only see what he looked like on the outside, which wasn’t anything special. In His human body, He was the poor son of a carpenter. His clothes weren’t clean, He wasn’t tall, He wasn’t especially handsome, but when God looked at Jesus, He saw His heart, the heart of His precious Son that trusted completely in His Father. When God looked at Jesus, He saw His perfect King, a King that would rule for the good of all His people. And when God gives us faith to believe all He has promised, the way we see Jesus changes. We no longer see a sad, helpless man nailed to a cross. We see Jesus as He truly is, our beautiful and mighty King of all kings.

1. If we make decisions about a person based on what our eyes can see, will that always tell us the truth about them?

No, because the outside of a person and even the actions they are doing never tell us the whole story. Only God knows what is true about every single person because only He can see what is inside their hearts. He knows who believes in Him and who doesn’t. He always knows if we are acting from faith or from sin.

2. Why didn’t God make Jesus look like a king so that everyone would know who He was?

Right now, we live by faith. We have to believe all the things that God says are true, and most of them we don’t get to see right now with our eyes. God has told us Jesus is His Son, the King of all kings, and we believe it is true, but one day Jesus will return in glory and He will look like the conquering King that He is!

What is something your family plans to do this Christmas season that you have never done before?

* Corresponding Jesus Storybook Bible story: "THe Teeny, Weenie...True King"