1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) 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.”
1. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance
Our God looks at our heart. He doesn’t look at your wallet or whether you are handsome or pretty, or whether you graduated from a top school.
When you read the Book 3 of the History of Redemption Series, Lamp of the Covenant, about how Saul became king, you can see the Israelites had rejected God from being their king. God warned them that with the human king, they will suffer and face difficulties. Why? Because they have to obey the king and his laws, he will take away their strong young men and women to be his servants, and use the best donkeys for his work, and 10% of their flocks. He would make them his servants and oppressed them. Yet the people still insisted to have a king. We know how the people of Israel suffered from all the evil kings, from Book 4 of the History of Redemption Series.
So God chose King Saul (1 Sam 9:2-4). Outwardly Saul was the perfect guy, tall, handsome. But God rejected him and chose David next. David was just a shepherd, who tended the flock, he was probably short and small in size, about 15 years old. David even in comparison to his brothers, didn’t seem to have anything to offer. But David was the chosen one (1 Sam 16:11-15).
We human beings only see the outward, we prefer the rich, the good looking, rather than the poor and ugly. But we forget that being rich or poor is all in God’s hands (Prov 8:18. 21, Amos 4:6). Every human being, every living creature has been created by God, there is no ugly creation in God’s eyes.
We do not choose workers that only look good outwardly. We are all God’s workers here. Which department suits the talents God has given you? We shouldn’t come to church and be like a guest hoping to be served, that is the spiritual babe and not the spiritual adult in Christ.
2. Why was Saul rejected by God?
It was because of Saul’s disobedience. How did Saul disobey God? There are 2 events.
(1) First the battle against the Philistines.
This was during the 2nd year of Saul’s reign. 1 Samuel 13:1ff.
The Philistines had 30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen and their people are as many as sand on the seashore. Just by looking at that, the Israelites had no will to go to war. Prophet Samuel was supposed to give an offering before they went to battle but even after 7 days had passed, prophet Samuel has not yet arrived. The people began to scatter. This must have made Saul panic.
Hence Saul disobeyed God, by offering a burnt offering. According to the law, only priests are allowed to give a burnt offering. The prophet arrived at the end of the offering. This was when the prophet Samuel told king Saul, that God had rejected him as king and God has chosen a man after his own heart to become king after Saul.
Saul broke the law, because firstly he panicked, secondly he was pressured by the people, he wanted to please the people more than we want to please God. Another reason was because Saul was impatient, his hasty decision caused him to sin against God (Prov 14:19, 21:5, 29:20).
(2) Secondly during the war against the Amalekites.
The Amalekites were very wicked people during the Israelites’ wilderness journey and even afterwards. During the wilderness journey, the Israelites asked Amalekites permission to cross over the land of Amalek but was not allowed. The Israelites had to go around the Amalekites. Despite doing this, the Amalekites still attacked them from the back. God remembers how wicked they were. So God commanded King Saul to completely annihilate the Amalekites and kill them all, not even let a baby survive, not even leave an animal alive.
Saul disregarded God’s Word. He spared King Agag, and kept the best of the sheep, ox, fatlings, lambs, all that was good and useful for himself. When the prophet Samuel was told by God to rebuke him for this, instead of repenting and admitting his fault, he made many excuses, firstly he lied that he obeyed God’s commandment when he did not wholly obey the command. Then he used God as an excuse, saying the animals were to be used for a sacrifice.
How Saul disobeyed God, is what many Christians do. We obey the Word we like but disobey the Word that doesn’t suit our lifestyle. That is adding and subtracting to the Word of God (Rev 22:18-19).
3. Reason for God’s decision to annihilate all Amalekites, including women, children, animals
What did the Amalekites do to make God give this commandment? The Amalekites killed the helpless, old people, women, infants, children, and from the back! Despite the Israelites not even stepping on their land. Because they attacked from behind, there was nobody to protect these people. It was foul play.
We human beings forget history but God does not.
(i) First it was because Amalekites foul played in cruelty.
But why kill the babies? Those babies will grow up to be adults who seek revenge, it will be a never ending cycle of revenge. This is spiritually telling us that sin is something you need to kill at the root, at the baby stage, don’t give sin a chance to grow.
(ii) Secondly, God sees the future.
In the book of Esther, a man Haman. Just because Mordecai didn’t bow down to him, Haman was enraged and wanted to annihilate the entire race of Jews (Esther 3:2, 4, 8). Haman was planning a kill day, where anyone can kill any Jews for any reason and it would be legal to do so.
Esther 3:1 (ESV) After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him.
Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of king Agag, because king Saul kept Agag alive. This man came about and wanted to kill all Jews. If Esther did not step up in faith, then there would be no more Jews. Our God sees our past, present and future. He is God omniscient. He sees everything, He is all knowing. Because He sees our future and His commands is always for our own good.
4. Understand the heart of the Father
When we evangelise, when we do God’s Word, we must understand the heart of God our Father, and have the same heart as our Father God, and we must have content, news. The content is the Word of God, from the bible. What is the point of being over zealous when there is no content? No content means we don’t understand the heart of the Father, we don’t have the Word, we first need the content, then we need to understand Father’s heart. That is how we can serve God as His worker.
5. Repentance of Saul and David
There were a few times Saul repented. There were many opportunities David could kill Saul but didn’t, those were the chances for repentance. Deep down Saul was always very envious over David. Saul admitted his sins but not long after Saul would chase after David again and again to kill him again. It is like realising and repenting in the head but not changing behaviour.
David after adultery with Bathsheba wept so much his bed was flooded with tears (Psa 6:6). We can tell David really repented, because when David was older, it was difficult for him to keep his body warm and they chose the most beautiful woman in Israel to be with David, and keep him warm but David never touched that woman (1 Kgs 1:1-4).
6. What kind of workers is God looking for?
Out of Israel, God chose Israel, because they are the least and smallest nation (Deut 7:6-7).
They were the least, weakest, smallest, but God was with them. It was because God was with them and God let them win. Likewise God did not choose us because we are so great, but because we are the least, but God works through the least, that is how God can be glorified (1 Cor 1:26-29).
Who did Jesus reveal Himself directly to in the bible? John 9, it was to the blind man. John 4, it was to the Gentile Samaritan woman, the harlot. Not to some rich man who could sponsor His mission work. That 1 person that the world looks down upon, God can make him or her do great amazing work, save many more souls than you can even imagine. Let us not look down on anyone.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites’ faith was weak and they were easily influenced by Gentile nations and easily tempted. That is why God had to build a really huge fence around them, to protect them from undue influence. Like how we protect our children, telling them not to come home late because it is dangerous. But if they are capable, discerning adults, we wouldn’t even worry. I pray all of us can become mature discerning worker so God, that God doesn’t have to worry about, and we can wholly obey Him and do His work zealously.
We need the zeal of God, but zeal needs content. The pure Word of God in the bible is the content, plus understanding Father’s heart. We need to run the race Father has set for us, having the same heart as God. This is why David is called a man after God’s heart, who would do all God’s will.
Acts 13:22 (ESV) And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
7. Good Example of Barnabas
He too was a man after God’s own heart. Barnabas played an important role to help apostle Paul to do missions work. He poured out his heart, invested his effort, and encouraged Paul who used to be a persecutor of Christians. When Paul tried to testify about Jesus initially, and tried to get along with all the other apostles, they were all suspicious and cautious of Paul. People just could not believe that Paul who used to be so cruel and evil, could suddenly change and become a disciple of Jesus. They didn’t trust Paul and couldn’t accept Paul. Barnabas brought Paul out and explained to the other apostles how God changed Paul, and what God did to Paul. Barnabas is a mediator. Sometimes we need mediators too (Acts 9:26-27).
Not all of God’s workers could be like Paul. Paul did great evangelism work, he wrote the most books in the New Testament. But without Barnabas, even Paul could not do his work. Our church needs to do God’s work as a team, helping each other out as a team.
Barnabas was a man who did many works of God, but behind the scenes. His name did not appear much because he is a man behind the scenes who made everything else possible. Even when Paul and John Mark had a quarrel, Paul gave up on John Mark because that guy ran away at the last mission because he couldn’t endure sufferings. Barnabas took Mark on a separate mission trip (Acts 15:37-39). After Mark proved himself worthy through this mission, Paul and Mark reconciled again.
When in prison, Paul says, Mark is very useful to him for ministry (2 Tim 4:11). This is all because Barnabas, who never gave up on Mark.
I hope that our church will be filed with many spiritual Barnabas, these people behind the scenes work silently, God sees all your efforts, and God sees you as the most precious people in His house.