- 1 Samuel 16:1-13
- Psalm 51:10-14
Early Thoughts: David is a hero, for some reason. David is seen as a paragon of duty and kingliness, though I am not really sure why. God sees something in David's heart that is worth raising up -- though David's behaviour as king and husband and father will leave much to be desired.
The reading from Samuel this week marks the entry of David into the narrative of faith. A few chapters before now the people convinced Samuel (and God) that they wanted a king like other nations and Samuel, with God's guidance, chose Saul. But by now Saul has fallen out of favour with God and Samuel is commanded to go find a new king. A risky duty -- kings tend to look negatively on people seeking to replace them, and in later chapters we will learn that Saul is not entirely stable.
Following God's commands Samuel goes to visit a man named Jesse. One of Jesse's sons is the one to replace Saul. And indeed it seems that God has already made God's choice.
Samuel has Jesse parade all of the sons past. Each time Samuel is sure that this must be the one but God keeps saying no, that Samuel is looking at external signs, which seems to be a pattern -- in chapter 9 when we first meet Saul we are told how handsome and tall he was, while God is looking to the heart. After 7 sons have gone by Samuel asks if there is anyone else. Only the youngest, David, out keeping the sheep. David is sent for and when he arrives Samuel is told to anoint him, for he is the one. Interestingly, even though we are told that God is looking at the heart rather than a physical characteristics, the first thing we are told about David is what he looks like.
The other reading is from Psalm 51. Traditionally it has been believed that this Psalm was written by David in the depths of his guilt after he rapes Bathsheba and arranges for the death of her husband. This link may be accurate, it may be a tradition with little basis in fact. But the section we read this week talks about the heart. It is a prayer any person of faith could (should?) share at various times in our faith journey. The poet asks that his/her heart be clean, that her/his spirit be made right with God.
God looks to the heart. God looks to David's heart, God looked to the heart of Moses, God looks to the heart of Peter and Paul. God touches the hearts of those who live in God's way. God looks to our hearts. Not necessarily the literal pump that sits in the middle of our chest, but to the core of our being. Our core values, our deepest priorities, our essential beliefs. God looks there, God speaks to us there, God stretches us there. SO maybe we should pray "create in me a clean heart O God and put a right spirit within me".
But more than that, God calls us to look as God looks. David is chosen out of all of Jesse's sons because God sees something in David's core that says he will be a Godly king. David will at times hear God speaking to his core calling him to a new way of being (which is probably why Psalm 51 is tied to the story of David and Bathsheba and Uriah). And David listens to his heart.
Later Paul will be struck to his core and will listen to his heart and be lead to proclaim the Way of Christ rather than persecute it. Martin Luther will be struck to his core and in remaining true to the understanding of God he finds there will start a ball rolling that will change the church. When we listen to the heart we just may hear God calling us to be truer to ourselves. When we look to the core we find God. What do you see and hear in the core of your being? How is God creating and sustaining a clean heart and a right spirit within you?
(not a perfect match but...) (full lyrics seen on one screen here)