How God Chooses

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

In the first mention of David in the Old Testament, he appears not as a hero but as a youth who was for the most part overlooked by his family. This, of course, is a main point of the passage. For it is apparent, even in the most casual reading, that the author is emphasizing that the choice of David to be king was not man’s choice but God’s.

This is the first great principle of any spiritual blessing. The choice must be God’s. If the choice were left to you or me to choose Israel’s king, we would choose Saul or Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son. And we would choose wrongly. Only God can choose properly. Hence, we shall experience blessing only in those actions and those deeds that originate with him.

Some people question why God cannot bless actions that originate with man. But the answer is made perfectly clear in the story. It is because only God can see a situation correctly. God knows what is in the heart of man. God knows the end from the beginning.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” These words are not only a statement of the clearness of God’s vision and his capacity to judge; they are also a statement of our limitations. And, of course, this is the crux of the problem. It is not just that God can see clearly. It is that God alone can see clearly. At best we see only the outward appearances.

The choice of a person for any spiritual work must be God’s. Not only are you and I unable to see a man’s heart, there is also the fact that even if we could see it, we cannot assess it properly, due to sin. Like a bad camera lens, sin distorts and inverts our vision.

There is an application here that we should not miss. If we really cannot see as God sees, and if we cannot assess the heart as God assesses it, then it must follow that, when God chooses people for spiritual work, the people themselves may come from what are to us the most unexpected places. We will not often find them among the great of the earth or those who commend themselves to us for their intellect, bearing, or outstanding qualities of leadership. When we look for capable leaders, we look up. God says, “When I look for a man who is to serve me faithfully, I look low down” (see 1 Cor. 1:27–29).

This excerpt was taken from Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice.