"When the sons of Jesse came, Samuel looked on Eliab and thought, 'Surely the LORD's anointed is now before the LORD.' But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature. Mortals look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" - 1 Samuel 16: 6-7
Don't you just love the meat department of your local grocery store? Those fresh cut pieces of meat sorted and stacked into succulent piles of protein can turn me into an ogling dog. Even when I was a vegan, I would steal glances at the butcher's specials.
There is another kind of meat market that operates in later hours under dimmer lighting with swanky music and sultry glances where lonely people inspect other lonely people, hungry for a hook-up. It's a sad scene and the cost can be far higher than paying $6.00/lb. for a sirloin strip.
The Bible has another version of a meat market in1 Samuel 16. God sends the prophet Samuel to find a new king from among the dashing sons of Jesse. The first son to appear is such a feast for the eyes old Samuel instantly judges him to be king material. But not so, says the Lord, for God looks not on outward appearances but on the heart. Seven sons pass before Samuel until the last one, the youngest, nearly forgotten by his father, "the runt of litter," a dirty shepherd boy named David appears and the Lord says, "That's him!"
David was not the favorite son. He was not the choicest chop off the old block. But all of those years of rejection and living the lonely life of a shepherd were critical in shaping his ability to identify with the marginalized, the widows and the fatherless. That's why scripture hails David as "a man after God's own heart."
But not only him.
Could it be that your wounds and experiences of rejection have equipped you for the holy work of tending to the lonely and the hurting? Could it be God looks at you as infinitely beautiful and desirable, the very flesh and blood She wants to incarnate?
Holy God, take me now! And may your love and light shine through the cracks of my broken heart.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.