1 Samuel 16: The Deception of Appearances

Obedience is the path to open up intimacy with God. If you are going to know Him better, you must do what He tells you to do. God teaches us this truth over and over again. Disobedience has consequences, and it leads us away from God. Obedience, on the other hand, draws us closer to Him. This is a lesson we often learn through brokenness and pain. This brokenness also teaches us to depend on God; our strength comes from Him.

We see this lesson in 1 Samuel. Saul disobeyed God, and therefore God rejected him as king. In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel obeys God and goes to seek out the new king, the one who would be a man after God’s own heart.

The Deception of Appearances

What is the most important part of a tree? It’s not what we see, but its root system. We live in a time when it is easy to create an outward narrative about ourselves, particularly through social media. We pick and choose photos and stories to tell, and, in doing so, we create an illusion unsupported by roots. The outward self dominates; the inner self diminishes.

Even Samuel wrestled with an outward illusion. When looking at Jesse’s sons for the future king, he was led astray by the physical prowess of Jesse’s oldest son. But God was not deceived, saying, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks at the heart, not the exterior.

Our interior life is the most important thing about us. We often have sloppy thought lives and flabby wills, easily led astray. But we need to long for God and seek to obey Him, growing deep roots in Him. When we obey God, we will find that He has our best interests at heart. He, after all, sees what is invisible, not just the outward appearance.

The Pursuit of the Plans of God

Pursuing God’s plans instead of our own is key to right living. Saul failed to obey God. He was concerned with what the people thought, and so he ignored God. Samuel, on the other hand, listened to God. He wanted to obey God, and so he followed God’s plans. This led him to anoint David, the king who pointed ahead to the true King, Jesus.

Obeying God will strengthen our inner life and help us walk in His will. Our spiritual life is the most important part about us, just as it was with David. Walking with Christ and pursuing God’s plans with strengthen that spiritual life and lead us to live out of our interior life rather than be led astray by outward appearances.


This teaching is based on Ken Boa’s Handbook to Scripture

Related Reading:

1 Samuel 16: The Deception of Appearances

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