The Journey: An Unlikely Anointing
October 22, 2017
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 51:10-14
My friend Rachel told us that when she was a child, one of the kids at her school picked on her…and called her ugly.
And when her mom came to pick her up from school, she told her the whole thing through teary eyes from the back seat of the car.
Her mom listened quietly and then said, “Rachel, don’t listen to him. Besides, its what is on the inside that matters…”
A moment later, Rachel’s mom saw her doing this into the rearview mirror.
It’s what is on the inside that matters…
This is the kind of passage that really doesn’t apply to many of us… I mean, its only relevant for those…
- who have ever hated how they looked.
- or those who continually find fault with themselves.
- or those who in their own insecurity…judge other people for how they look.
So anyone to whom that framework does not apply…feel free to stop listening.
So now that I have ALL of your attention…
We can certainly affirm here today that indeed this passage is highly relevant.
That we all need the reminder that God looks on the inside…and THAT is what is important.
Verse 7 is a confirmation of the way we want the world to be. The way WE want to be.
To look at the heart, and not externals. To value character over appearance.
To look at the inside…not the outside.
And we want our kids to know this much better than we do… But how does this passage stand up to the rest of the world?
The power of advertising and consumerism and enhance our appear-ism…
That is the Goliath.
And v.7…well, that’s David.
It is comforting to know that its not just us. That appearance as King has been reigning since Samuel picked the first King.
A few chapters before this, Samuel the priest has woken from his Biblical Nap (as we talked about last week…)…and has chosen a much-desired King…a man named Saul.
Handsome, tall…and searching for cows (you can read more about it at home)
And yet this first choice has not gone so well…Saul is not fit…and really, not well. And after a few major missteps…God turns his eyes away from Saul.
He tells Samuel to go seek another King…but this time…GOD was choosing.
So Samuel sets off for Bethlehem…but all the while, whether known or unknown, he’s writing the Kingly job description in his head…so that by the time he’s arrived, the “Linked in Profile” for the King of Israel was complete…and the profile picture, although still a little hazy…was pretty well filled in.
Sam arrives at the house of Jesse…and sees Eliab, the eldest son. And quickly sums up the situation:
“Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”
The funny thing is he had tried this last time…picking a King on measurements and “manliness.”
Samuel…God’s prophet and judge was judging up a storm…”Oh, the tallest, oldest, most handsomest brother…he must be the chosen king!”
And if it can happen to Samuel…then it can certainly happens to us.
It will come as no surprise that since the time when Judges were judging… we have been fueled by outward appearance. Our eyes deceive us.
Our eyes see the outside. They don’t readily see beneath the surface.
And so the power to control our outside…enhancing our appearance grows and grows…
And the message of verse 7 becomes more and more diluted when the message of the world seems to willfully contradict it…
- The plastic surgery billboard on the way to Grand Rapids…and back.
- The onslaught of TV show and movies where the average clothing size is about 2…and the airbrushing budget is sky high.
- And even closer still, the shallow values of appearance seem to reign on social media…people are ridiculed and bullied on Twitter for how they look. On Instagram we can filter our pictures to make them look extra appealing. And Facebook seems to be a perfect storm of echo chambers, get-togethers that didn’t include us, and still life pictures where everyone else’s life is seemingly perfect.
And so when we look away from our screens and into the mirror…we see an unfiltered, un-airbrushed, un-affirmed self.
Its everywhere! Even here (point to heart)
But God does not see as mortals see…
God sees us and God values us in our totality.
God sees us
A pastor friend of mine pointed out this week that Samuel’s trip to Bethlehem was not a familiar one…
There was no inn or manger or line of Jesse…no song to point the way. Bethlehem was a back-water town with seemingly no prospects.
But it is from here that God chooses the next king…from a random farmer’s family. And not the handsome first born…but the adolescent sheep hand that his father almost forgets!
David is about as random as random gets!
But there is something about him that God sees. He is a man after God’s own heart.
And that’s what matters.
Friends, it is easy to feel small and unimportant. To feel out of the way and put out to pasture.
But God…God picks the kid IN THE PASTURE. Literally.
Time and time again God chooses the one the world does not.
The world picks …
The elder son over youngest. Pharaohs over slaves. Boys over girls Rich over poor. The sons of priests over sons of Gad.
God pays Little ATTENTION TO THAT ORDER. God sees us. Oldest, youngest and in between.
God values us
Sam the prophet man gets off to a rough start in Bethlehem…after mistakenly assuming the elder brother is God’s anointed…he moves on to the second brother..and then the third…and on and on…
It’s a painful audition for the next King…with all the wrong criteria on display.
Its a Mr. Israelite Pageant…a scene from “The Israelite Bachelor” OR “Israel's Next Top Model.”
Can you tell I had some fun coming up with these?
Samuel is unconvinced by the producers casting. He is unsettled. He finally asks Jesse if there are any more sons…and sure enough, there is a Cinderella in hiding…a youngest son is tending sheep on the farm. His father had almost forgotten about him!
Samuel wasn’t the only one getting this wrong…David’s own FATHER didn’t remember him!
They both had picture in mind of what a King looked like.
We can hardly blame them. Frankly we do it all the time.
We let our preconceived notions of charisma, power, and authority run out in front of us…all the way to Bethlehem and beyond.
How refreshing it was to read about Homecoming at Buffalo Grove High School this week…where Amanda Ewald and Brett Wilkinson were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.
Amanda and Brett have down syndrome.
On a facebook post, Amanda’s sister Meghan wrote, “"Today was truly one of the happiest days of my life. My parents have fought for inclusion for my sister her entire educational career, and worked so hard to give her the best opportunities. Today my parents hard work, and Amandas drive to never give up, and always keep going has proved there are no limits to what my sister can do, her abilities are endless. As I sat beside my parents in the ceremony for homecoming, I experienced a happiness that I have only experienced one other time in my life- the day she was born. All my dreams came true the day I held my little sissy in my arms. Today all my dreams came true again when I got to witness a crowd going wild with excitement as my sister was crowned homecoming queen. Thank you Amanda and Brett for constantly reminding the world that you are limitless!"
I want to speak for a moment to all the children and youth in the room… adults…you can listen along as well if you want.
I wish I could tell you that you will never be judged by your appearance. That you’ll never feel a sense of inadequacy.
But that is not the world we live in.
And so instead, I want to give you 5 stones…5 things in hold in your heart so you can stand up to the Goliath of culture’s expectations.
First is: God loves you. End of story. Not if you do this or do that…God loves you. No matter what.
The second is: God sees you. I know that Jr. and High School can be lonely places. Friends that you thought were solid one day are gone the next. The innocence of K-5 is replaced with alliances and allegiances. And it may seem like you have to act a certain way or do a certain thing to fit in or stand out…Don’t. True friends would not ask this of you. Don’t do anything for the sake of being noticed.
God sees you. We see you. We are your family. We love you and see you.
The third is: God has given you a purpose. He’s not just looking for kings: he needs a full court. He needs the scribe, the court jester, the happy villager, the teacher, the pastor…
Our daughter Lulu asked me yesterday if she should be a scientist or an artist when she grows up..I said yes.
Follow your passion. Don’t try to be something you are not. Be who God has created you uniquely to be.
The fourth is: God values you. You are cherished and loved by God. And you are made in the image of God. Spend time with people that affirm this value. With people who value you…not degrade you.
Do not give yourself to someone who expects you to be a certain way or do certain things. Don’t be with people who question you, or criticize you, or cut you down. Don’t think that by doing a certain thing, you’ll be more accepted.
As my friend Bekah said, “Never trade your integrity for a fleeting moment.”
The work of seeing your value begins with you…and its hard work.
I used to cut out pictures of Cover Girl ads and put their faces next to mine in the mirror…all I would see were my imperfections.
I know it is hard to not compare yourself with others. To think that you are not this or not that.
But you are…you are enough. You are unique. You are amazing. You are valued.
The fifth stone is that God forgives you. The truth is, we mess up. We’ll forget the we have the other four stones in our pocket. We’ll do something…say something…that we wish we had not. But God forgives us.
Look at David. At the height of his kingship, he conspired to murder another man and committed adultery with the man’s wife. He was a complex person. A man after God’s own heart but a man nonetheless.
And after God confronted him on his vile behavior…he wrote the Psalm for today:
Create in me a Clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me.
This is our prayer too. Create in me a clean heart. Wipe out…
This is the good news. It is because of Jesus that we can
It only took David one stone to defeat Goliath….the other four were just for good measure. Thankfully we get to carry all five.
- God loves you.
- God sees you.
- God purposes you.
- God values you.
- God forgives you.
However Goliath is showing up in your life…use these stones to defeat him. And know that there are people here…starting with Bryce, Betsy, Nate and me…who want to walk with you.
You are not alone.
God does not see as we see…(He sees all the way down there…right down to our heart).
Carry the stones with you. Pull them out in those moments of doubt, of uncertainty, of insecurity.
Knowing that God is always with us