Matters of the heart: I Samuel 15-17


Today’s reading: I Samuel 15-17.

Contrasting personalities are the lifeblood coursing through the book of I Samuel, and today the differences between Saul and David come into sharp focus. Their heart attitudes are key, driving them down very distinct paths and bringing very different reactions from God.

God looks on the heart. The key words from today’s reading come as God admonishes Samuel to do as he does and focus on the most important part of a person: his inner character and attitudes. Samuel has been looking for Saul’s successor, but looking at all the wrong qualifications.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

We look at the externals. Is a person attractive, do they dress well, do they speak well, do they stand tall, are they well off? God says,  pay attention to what is most important: their character as revealed by their actions, their devotion to the LORD, their faith, and their integrity.

Saul had a rebellious heart. Previously Saul failed to wait on God, showing his lack of faith. When instructed to completely destroy the Amalekites, Saul carried out the assignment almost entirely, but then spared the Amalekite king and the best of the flocks and herds.

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” I Samuel 15:22-23

Saul’s disobedience, his rebellion against God, caused God to take back his choice of Saul as king. Though it would be years before Saul lost his life and the throne, God moved quickly to ordain his replacement.

David had a heart for God. God chose David, a young and smallish shepherd, to replace Saul. God saw in David’s heart what all Israel soon saw displayed on the battlefield when he faced Goliath.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s” I Samuel 17:45-47

In the brief encounter with Goliath David revealed the traits that would cause God to call him “a man after my own heart.”

  • He lifted up the LORD’s name
  • He hungered for the LORD’s honor
  • He believed God would empower him and acted accordingly
  • He understood that the battle was spiritual and that God determined the outcome

If you’d like to see more reasons why David was God’s choice, check this blog by Ron Edmondson. What do you think was the source of David’s godly heart? What attitudes caused the heart failures in Saul’s life?

Image by Jay8085 on Flickr, CC by 2.0


3 thoughts on “Matters of the heart: I Samuel 15-17

  1. I have always read an double meaning into the saying, “a man after my own heart”. On the one hand it could mean, “a man like me”, but the other hand it could mean “a man seeking to know me”, a pursuer, which is an idea that runs throughout Jewish law. In David’s case it seems both would apply.

    We hear Samuel’s question echoed in Psalm 51: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

    The outward form of the law, given through Moses, he knows, must become the inward form of a law written on the heart, sealed by the Anointed One to come.

  2. Pingback: BIBLE DAILY DEVOTIONAL – 1 Samuel 15-17 – Matters of the heart | ChristianBlessings

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