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Our reading this week has Samuel all grown up and in the role of the Priest. Eli and his family have gone but Saul is still King. In many places in the bible God just does what God likes in order to move events towards the kingdom, but with this story we see God playing the political game waiting on human politics to catch up with the divine will. Saul is still king and even as God has turned heaven’s back on him, he remains king and cannot be shifted easily. Samuel being called to anoint a new king has to do so in secret for if Saul hears about it he’ll kill Samuel. Samuel therefore is performing a coup d’état but has to do so under the cover story of a pilgrimage to offer sacrifice. When he gets to Jesse’s household the brothers are all lined up except none of them are the ones God has chosen. We know that already. We know it is going to be the least likely and hardly noticed youngest son David, but Samuel does not know this yet. What must it be like to live with that niggle that there is something missing here, that there is still another piece of the jigsaw to put in place? Then comes the whole episode of not looking on the face but in the heart. ‘To see’ in this chapter is about right seeing. It is not about only what your eyes offer you but to see into the heart and soul and the character and intent of someone. Ultimately, we are told David is handsome and ruddy which was the mark of a good king but perhaps there is a bit of ambiguity as to whether that handsomeness is just outward or also an inward condition too. God doesn’t look on the outside, God looks on the inside. It doesn’t matter to God what ethnic group, cultural group, gender, literacy, wisdom, experience or ability we have; God looks on the inside – the heart – when God looks at us. I think one of the hardest things to do is look on the inside of a person and not get fixated on the outside. Today’s culture of what looks ‘right’, the handsome, the slim, the able bodied, the ‘right’ skin colour all make it harder for us to honour and love the person we see before us just as they are. We’re going to have some challenges in the coming weeks about wondering, knowing or confirming if someone is fully vaccinated or not. We also are not going to know of the underlying health issues that may mean they are not vaccinated. We aren’t going to know that by just looking at them. Our vaccination status doesn’t determine who we are. We are a child of God who is precious. And that is regardless of decisions required of us as to who can gather or not. Where we need to look is inside, to their actions and their concern for others to give us a glimpse of the truth of the person before us.

Jay Robinson

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