I’ve recently been thinking of the prophet Samuel. A miracle baby given in answer to the desperate prayer of his mother Hannah, from an early age, as Eli’s apprentice, he heard God’s voice, and grew to be a bold and faithful servant of the Lord, bringing direction and, when needed, rebuke to Israel. We’re told that none of the words he spoke from the Lord fell to the ground. They all fulfilled the purpose God intended.
He knew personal pain as he anointed Israel’s first king, Saul, and then had to tell him that he’d lost his kingship through his disobedience to God’s commands. Later, while still mourning Saul’s failure, he heard the Lord telling him to go to the home of a man called Jesse in Bethlehem, and to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel.
Obeying the Lord’s command rather than his fear that Saul might try to intercept and kill him, he goes to Jesse’s home, and seven young men, sons of Jesse, are brought before him. The firstborn, and perhaps the tallest, Eliab, stands before him and Samuel, perhaps remembering the stature of Saul, thought that this must be the chosen new king. But instead we hear the Lord’s correction to his prophet, ‘man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’.
It’s always impressed me that, even as someone who heard God speak so clearly, he needed this reminder. Most of us know the rest of the story. Each of the seven sons stood before Samuel, but he heard no word from the Lord confirming them as his choice. Finally, Samuel discovers that there is an eighth son, David, the youngest, who hadn’t even been considered worth calling to stand before Samuel. He was discounted by his family, but not by God. As he stood before Samuel, the prophet finally heard God's voice saying, ‘This is he’.
It’s painful when family members, or godly anointed people whom we’ve respected and whose words we’ve trusted, misjudge us, or speak wrong words over us. But the truth is that none of us are perfect, however much God uses us. We’ve just seen that even Samuel had to be reminded to see with God’s eyes, not his own.
Recently the Lord revealed a deep unhealed insecurity in my own life, which has meant that I’ve sometimes allowed wrong, or inappropriate, words spoken to me by other Christians to crush and almost overwhelm me. We all need to be teachable, and ready to hear godly counsel and correction from others, but we also need to discern when words spoken to us are coming merely from a person’s human perception, rather than the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, please help me to only speak words of life to others and not to see them with merely human eyes. Please continue your work of healing in my life so that, secure in my identity in you, I can test the words of others and know whether they are truly from your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
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