In the first book of Samuel, the epic story of two kings is told. God carefully chose both of these men to rule over His people.
Saul was the first king, and his credentials for office were very impressive, as we find in 1 Samuel 9:1-2:
“There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish… a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
At the beginning, Saul was humble and obedient to God, but the rest of Saul’s story is one of haughty disobedience and self-will. David was chosen to replace him.
Samuel was sent to the family of Jesse to anoint a new king from among his sons. God instructed Samuel: “…‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him [speaking of Eliab]. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
David was the last of the sons of Jesse to be presented to Samuel, and even of David, we find this description: “…Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” (1 Samuel 16:12, NASB). Other accounts speak of David’s musical ability, his leadership and his ability as a warrior, but these attributes and skills were not the most important in God’s view. Rather, we read God’s testimony about David, as follows:
“…‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:22). David’s obedience to God was his most important quality.
Likewise, we see that Samuel was a faithful and obedient priest—he replaced the disobedient house of Eli. God spoke this of Samuel: “‘Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever’” (1 Samuel 2:35).
After giving His commandments to Israel, God appeals longingly to His people:
“‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!’” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
That appeal from God has stood in every generation, and it is now our own challenge! Is God looking upon us, because we have a poor and contrite spirit and tremble at His word? (Compare Isaiah 66:2). Is God finding in us “such a heart”?