Yesterday I listed seven of the most famous beautiful people from the Bible. That’s actually an incomplete list. This list – which mentions 22 people – is the most extensive list that I could find. So really, I only listed about a third of the people who were attractive enough to merit an entire verse in the Bible stating that they were attractive.
Sometimes this can be frustrating for me. I see the list of Bible verses talking about the importance of inner beauty, but then I see this list and suddenly I’m wondering if there’s a correlation between beauty and accomplishing great things for God.
The most frustrating passage for me is in 1 Samuel 16. Saul has disobeyed God, and so God sends the prophet Samuel out to anoint the replacement King of Israel. God says,”I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king” (1b).
So Samuel goes to the household of Jesse and invites them to a sacrifice honoring God. They agree to come, and when Jesse’s son Eliab arrives Samuel thinks, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (6b).
But God says, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So Jesse calls in the rest of his sons, but God does not choose any of them either. Finally, Jesse calls in his youngest son David.
At this point in the story I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness David is going to be so small, weak and unattractive. But he will be full of kindness and wisdom. So it will be a classic underdog rags-to-riches tale.” Nope. Samuel says that he was “glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features” (12).
This is not where I saw the story going. I mean I’m happy for David and all, but it almost seems contradictory at first. Didn’t God say that he didn’t care about outward appearance? Then why did he choose David – who is described as healthy, fine, and handsome – to be King.
Did God chose him for his appearance? No, not at all. Throughout King David’s reign we see that God must have examined his heart because David was the best King Israel ever had. How else could God have known that David would be kind, just, honest, compassionate, and faithful? Besides, if God had chosen the next king simply based off of appearance then I’m sure there were other attractive men in the land that would have been up for the task. But God doesn’t work that way. He shines a spotlight into the hidden corners of our hearts to find the right people to do His work.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling useless in the Kingdom of God lately. Check your heart. Don’t check the outer covering of the heart, the part that you show to the world. All of us can pass that test. Easy peasy. We’re all kind, cheerful, honest and faithful when others are watching- or at least most of the time.
But I mean check the corners of your heart. Check what you say about people behind their backs. Check what’s going on in your mind at night when you’re falling asleep. You know your mind – that place where no one else can keep you accountable but yourself. God still sees in there too. Check what you’re looking at on the internet. And so on. You know where you struggle. Check yourself there. Better to put the problem out in the open and deal with it than to let it fester and grow like mold.
Look at Saul. We can trace his downfall back to the first germ of jealousy that he allowed to sprout in his heart. Steadily, over time, Saul watered that little germ by letting his mind obsess over his jealousy of David. These thoughts later came out in his violent actions against David. Apparently the contents of our hearts and minds translate into later actions.
Now Saul could have squashed the germ right after it first landed in his heart. But he didn’t. He disregarded God’s warnings and let it spread throughout his heart, and soon he had a moldy heart, and was no longer any use to God.
So God had to find a new King. He searched through the hearts of all the men in the land and found David. This young man was honest, kind, humble, and, most importantly, faithful to Him. So God sent Samuel to anoint David as the next King of Israel.
Notice the selection process. Did God narrow it down to five candidates and then say, “Okay now each of you has ten minutes to present your positions on the following policies.” No. Did he say, “Okay now I’m going to give you this Meyers-Briggs test to see if your personality will fit in well with the rest of the team.” No. He didn’t need to. All God looked at was the heart because the heart is the microscope into our entire being.
When God sees that you have a good heart, He doesn’t need to check up on anything else – how you treat other people, whether or not you pray or read your Bible, how often you tithe, what you do in your spare time, what others think of you, etc. Because a good heart means you’re doing it right. It’s like, rather than looking at each and every test score that you make over your entire high school career, colleges mainly look at your SAT score because this is usually a good indication of your overall academic achievement. Thankfully, God’s “Heart Aptitude Test” – hey HAT! I like that – is a lot more accurate.
If you’ll notice from the list of beautiful people in the Bible, some had good hearts and some had bad hearts. So outward beauty was an unreliable judge of inner beauty in biblical times too. But notice that many outwardly beautiful people were also inwardly beautiful, like Esther and Abigail. So don’t skew the data the other way either.
But really, what this means is that outer beauty has no connection to inner beauty. And thank goodness, right? The thing that God cares the most about – our inner beauty – is up to us. So how hard are you seeking after God’s own heart? How’s your HAT score?
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”