We See the Outside, but God Sees the Inside
1 Samuel 16:1-13
(Since this is a Family-Centered Worship Sunday, the Message for All Ages is literally that – the Message for All Ages. It is “the sermon.”)
Props: Three presents wrapped in paper. One is in fancy wrapping paper, one is in a fancy gift bag, and another is wrapped in newspaper/brown paper. Gift 1: an old sock. Gift 2: a holey balloon. Gift 3: Heart-shaped candy.
Hey kids, I have three packages here. Which one do you think will be the most exciting? Why? (Should we open it first?)
OK, let’s open this one (opens the first package). An old sock?? That’s not very exciting, is it? Yuck.
What about this one? (opens the second package). A balloon. Well, that’s a little better. Let’s give it a try. (Try to blow up the balloon – it has a hole!) It’s got a hole! Well, that’s not very fun either, is it?
You know, I’m really disappointed. These other two packages were so beautiful, I was sure that there would be something exciting inside. Do you think we should even bother with this third package? I mean, it’s just wrapped in a bunch of newspaper. It can’t be very exciting, can it? (Open’s up the third package.) Candy! Now that’s exciting, isn’t it? Did you expect we’d find candy in here?
This reminds me of our Bible story from today. It’s the story about how God chose a boy named David to grow up to be the king of Israel.
You see, a long time ago, there was a prophet named Samuel in the land of Israel. And God would talk with Samuel and give him wisdom so that Samuel could help the people of Israel make really big, important decisions. Now at that time, a man named Saul was king of Israel, but he wasn’t a very good king. In fact, he had a bad habit of just doing what he wanted to do, instead of listening to God.
So God told Samuel to go to a little town called Bethlehem because God had chosen a boy there to be the new king of Israel. Do you know anyone else who was born in Bethlehem?
So Samuel goes to Bethlehem, and he takes his horn of oil with him (because when a new king was chosen, oil was used to mark or anoint their forehead. And God tells Samuel to go to the house of a man named Jesse, who had eight sons.
So Samuel goes to Jesse’s house, and he knocks on the door, and he says, “Jesse, God has chosen one of your sons to be king.”
And Jesse says, “Well that must be my oldest son, Eliab. He’s tall and strong, and he would make a mighty king!”
So Jesse introduced Samuel to Eliab, and Samuel thought to himself, “This guy definitely is tall. He looks like a basketball player! I’m sure he’s the right person for the job!”
But God spoke to Samuel and said, “Not so fast, Samuel! You are looking at what is on the outside, but I see what’s inside, what’s in a person’s heart. Eliab is not the one I have chosen.”
So then Jesse introduced Samuel to his second son, Abinadab. And Samuel said, “Well, this guy definitely looks strong. He looks like he could carry a cow on his shoulders! He must be the one God has chosen.”
But God again said to Samuel, “Not so fast, Samuel! You are looking at what is on the outside, but I see what’s on the inside. Abinadab is not the one I have chosen.”
So then Jesse introduced Samuel to his third son, Shammah. And Shammah was lean and lanky. He looked like he could run a marathon. But what do you think? Do you think that he was the right one?
That’s right! God said to Samuel, “He’s not the one I have chosen either.”
And so Samuel met seven of Jesse’s sons, and none of them was the one God had chosen to be king. Samuel was starting to get impatient! He said to Jesse, “Do you have any sons left?’ And Jesse said, “The only one you haven’t met is my youngest son, David. But he’s out in the field, taking care of the flock.”
So Samuel said, “Well, what are you waiting for? Go and get him.” So Jesse sent one of his sons to go get David. And when David walked into the house, God said to Samuel, “This is the one. This is the boy that I have chosen to be the King of Israel. I know his heart, and I know that he’s the right person for the job.”
So Samuel took out his horn of oil (remember, they used oil to show that a new king had been chosen), and he anointed David on the head. And from that day onward, God’s Spirit was with David, helping him in all that he did.
So remember our packages? Which one had the best present? The shiny one? The fancy one? No, it was the plain old one, wrapped in newspaper, wasn’t it? So in the same way, can you tell what a person is like on the inside by the way they look on the outside? No, right?
As humans, we often see with our eyes, but we don’t see what a person is like on the inside. But God sees the whole person, and God knows what’s in each of our hearts. And do you know what God sees when God looks at you? God sees a beautiful child of God, someone that God loves very much.
So if you’d like, you can have some of this candy, and it can remind you that God sees our hearts and that God sees that you are a beloved child of God. (And perhaps you can share it with someone else as well).