The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward
appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart
I Samuel 16:7
When I first came across the picture of David that we're using with
this article, I liked it so much I hung it in my office. Nevertheless,
the more I saw of it, the more I began to find fault with it. The artist
pictured him as pretty, almost effeminate—why his legs are as shapely as
a woman's! He looks like he's wearing eye makeup! Is that any way to
picture David, the mighty warrior, the man after God's own heart?
So I turned to 1 Samuel chapter sixteen to check the biblical
description of David…
"Now he was ruddy (reddish hair, that is) and withal of a beautiful
countenance, and goodly to look to," (vs 12). Not quite in
the macho mold of Stallone or Schwarzeneggar, I gathered. The New
American Standard adds that he had "beautiful eyes." He apparently
didn't look too tough or God wouldn't have had to warn Samuel about
judging by outward appearance. After checking the Word, I came to the
conclusion that our picture is probably pretty accurate.
Now, don't get me wrong. David was pretty, but not effeminate or
limp-wristed by any stretch of the imagination, as his subsequent
history proves. Nevertheless, he obviously didn't fit the physical
description of mighty warrior and captain of God’s army.
He was considered the least of his father's children. When Samuel
came to anoint the next king of Israel among Jesse's sons, they didn't
even think to bring in David from the field. Samuel rejected all of the
other sons, one by one, before Jesse even remembered he had another son
out keeping the sheep. I'm sure both father and sons were quite
shocked—and perhaps insulted—when Samuel announced, "This is the one,"
and chose young David over them as the future king of Israel.
David was perhaps thought of as tender and over-sensitive by his
burlier older brothers. He'd rather sit around and play his psaltery
(not-too-distant cousin of the guitar, sometimes called a harp) than
engage in a game of football (or the equivalent). After all, there's got
to be something wrong with a kid that writes songs and poems about the
Lord all day long! We believe in God, too, David, but let's be
reasonable—we’ve got our own lives to live, too. Why is it that people
always consider a man (or boy) a sissy if he leans toward the artistic
or musical, or worst of all, the spiritual? David was destined to prove
them all wrong, but he probably suffered a lot of grief at the hands of
his brothers before that day arrived.
When the older brothers followed Saul into battle against the
Philistines, David was left at home to tend the sheep. I can just
picture him, desiring with all his heart to fight the Lord's enemies—but
his brothers no doubt said, "Forget it, Davey--go sing to your sheep or
something… I suppose you re still believing what that senile old Samuel
said last year about you being king. Don't count on it."
Everyone really began wondering about this presumptuous youth when he
stood up to fight Goliath, as recorded in 1 Samuel 17. Eliab, his oldest
brother, rebuked him sharply. "What are you doing here, you proud,
naughty little brat?" He actually used the word "naughty" to indicate
his utter contempt for the young David.
King Saul tried to talk him out of fighting Goliath. "Thou art not
able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a
youth, and he a man of war from his youth." He wasn't about to let him
go fight the giant, but when David mentioned the Lord, the backslidden
king got under conviction and decided to send him out after all.
Goliath thought the whole thing was a big joke. "When the Philistine
looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth,
and ruddy, and of a fair countenance." Like Samuel and many others the
giant was judging David by his pretty exterior; but there was more to
David than what met the eye, as the Philistine was shortly to find out.
However, there apparently were a few discerning folks in Israel who
had noticed the underlying greatness of David. In 1 Samuel 16:18, when
Saul is seeking deliverance from the demonic spirit oppressing him, one
of the servants recommends David. He’s described here as "cunning in
playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in
matters, a comely person, and the Lord is with him."
This servant noticed more than just his prettiness, and saw the
mighty man of God underneath, while others were still woefully ignorant
of what God was doing in this young man. The servant especially noted
that the Lord was with him; and If anyone could handle Saul's demon it
had to be someone with a special anointing of God—someone like David.
Perhaps Saul's servant had heard the stories about the bear and the
lion. It seems David had courageously defended his father's flock from
these predatory beasts, and actually slew them in hand-to-hand combat.
Here was a man of great valor indeed; God must surely be with him or
such feats could never have been accomplished. I’m sure that older
brother Eliab must have dismissed these stories as exaggerated
tall-tales, but there were those that believed, nevertheless.
In any case, only a very few had seen David as the Lord saw him
before that fateful day in the valley of Elah. We all know what happened
on that occasion. The mocking Philistine found out that he was not
facing a mere lad, but a man who came in the name of the Lord of Hosts.
In a few seconds the contest was over and Goliath lay dead upon the
ground, the victorious David standing over him.
Suddenly the pretty-faced boy was the hero of Israel. He was soon
made a captain in Saul's army, and the women were dancing in the
streets, singing his praises. The shepherd from Bethlehem was beginning
to come into his own.
What Lessons Does This Hold For Us
1. Be Content to Work Quietly in the Background. Sometimes it
seems as though nobody really appreciates what you’re doing. You may be
faithfully laboring along in some inglorious position, while others are
being advanced all around you. This was David's experience as a
shepherd-boy, the youngest of Jesse’s stalwart sons. Never fear. God has
a way of rewarding His chosen vessels and exalting them to a place of
prominence as they’re faithful in the little things. Be patient and stay
tender and sensitive before Him.
2. Don't Promote Yourself. David later wrote, "promotion
cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But
God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another." (Psalm
75:6,7). David never had to blow his own horn, or push himself upon
people in order to have them recognize his greatness. God did it for him
in due time. Likewise, you, too, wait for the Lord to promote you and
3. Don't Allow Yourself to be Limited by Your Supposed Weaknesses
and Inability. God is big enough for both of you as long as you stay
humble and trust Him. There is no lion, bear, or Philistine that you can
not overcome through Him "which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,"
(2 Cor. 2:14). Even a "sissy" can be a mighty man of God if he keeps his
4. Finally, Don't Judge by the Outward Appearance. The
greatest men of the day, and even some very spiritual ones, failed to
recognize in David the qualities that God valued most. I'm sure after a
while Samuel sat back and blessed God for His wisdom in choosing David,
but at first even the old seer himself failed to appreciate what the
Lord was doing.
You see, some of those who appear to be great at this moment in time
may turn out to be very inconsequential (like Eliab) or even wicked
(like Saul) in the long run. Others who appear to be totally
insignificant may turn out to be the real heroes of the age, especially
when viewed from the perspective of heaven. The Lord has a way of making
the last first, and using the weak things of the world to confound the
There was a lot more to David than what met the eye. He was just the
opposite of many today who pretend to be something they aren't—he put on
no pretense whatsoever, and left his eventual recognition in the hands
of God. Who knows, if you follow his example, you just might end up in
God's Hall of Fame, too.
Copyright © 2002
Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.