God said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." —1 Samuel 16:7
God sends the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to choose a new king over Israel. Jesse brings seven of his sons before Samuel beginning with the eldest, and one by one, Samuel rejects them.
Finally Samuel asks Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And Jesse says, "There remains only the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep." Samuel says to Jesse, "Send and bring him." The youngest son arrives, and God says to Samuel, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one."
This son is David, who would go on to become the greatest king of Israel.
God's ways are not our ways. In our youth and celebrity-obsessed culture appearances are everything, but God is more interested in good hearts than in good cheekbones.
We judge people by their clothes and their hairstyles, but God looks beyond outward appearances for such intangibles as faithfulness, honesty, generosity, humility, patience, perseverance, and compassion.
These inner qualities are signs of God's realm, and wherever they are seen, God regards them as beautiful.
Oh God, give us eyes to see beneath the surfaces, and help us grow with you day by day that our own hearts may someday become beautiful in your eyes.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.