Today’s reading is drawn from 1 Samuel 16:1-7.
Even the prophet Samuel was fooled. When he looked at Jesse’s oldest son Eliab, he naturally assumed that God must have chosen this noble and sturdy young man to be the Lord’s anointed leader. But the Lord makes it clear in this passage that the people he chooses to do great things for him are called on the basis of inward character, not on the basis of outward impressiveness.
Verses 8–11 tell us that Jesse, David’s father, didn’t even include David in the line-up of his sons. He was an afterthought to Jesse. But qualification for leadership is not measured by inches or pounds or degrees or background. What does God look for? Why is it that when Jesse and Samuel were looking at Eliab, God was looking at David? God’s qualifications for leadership are evident in verse 7; read that verse again. For elaboration on what a leader’s heart should look like, flip over to 1 Kings 3:6 (p. 380) and 1 Kings 11:4–6 (p. 393). Whatever else qualifies people for leadership, no one is qualified for greatness—by God’s standard—until their heart is ready.
The leader’s prayer and focus of effort must center here. Skills, intelligence and hard work are all a part of the package. But God reminds us that, in the final analysis, one thing makes the difference. God looks at the leader’s heart.