By Not Known
Our culture is fascinated with appearances. Our media is saturated with images of
outwardly beautifully people. Advertisers urge great attention to all aspects of
physical beauty and promise the world to us if only we use their products or
The Bible speaks much about beauty but has little concern for physical
appearance. In fact it warns against its passing and deceitful nature (Pro 31:30)
and commends a concern for inner beauty: Your beauty should not come from
outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and
fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of
a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Pet 3:3-4).
These words are addressed to women, but are also relevant to men.
These themes are present in today’s Bible passage (1 Sam 16).
Before Saul was chosen as King, he was identified by his attractive physical
appearance (1 Sam 10:23-24). Yet, he lacked the inner beauty of a life well
ordered before God (some Biblical words for beauty have a sense of ‘good order’
about them). In fact, Saul rejected God’s order. Saul was meant to be God’s king,
but chose to be his own king and so broke God’s law by performing functions that
belonged to the priests. Because of this God rejected him (1 Sam 13:1-14).
Who was to replace Saul? It would be a man after God’s own heart and who shows
it by keeping his commands (1 Sam 13:14). This is real beauty.
David was Saul’s replacement. David was a handsome man, but we are not told
this until after he was identified as the next king (1 Sam 16:12). And, David did
have a disastrous affair of the heart that led him into adultery and murder (2 Sam
11). His full and passionate confession of these sins is a sure sign of just where his
heart truly lay (Ps 51). It is interesting to read of later estimates of David’s
character by people who knew him. They speak of a heart that belonged to God
(eg. 1 Kgs 3:6; 9:4; 14:8). This same heart is recorded in David’s poems in the
book of Psalms.
What do we make of this? Very simply, the beauty to cultivate is the inner beauty
of a heart that loves God and shows it by doing as God says. This is the beauty to
appreciate in others and the beauty to cultivate in ourselves.