According to the scripture passage, it tells how God judges man, not by outward appearance, but by the heart of man.
Then, fairly soon after this passage, as we are introduced to David; a “handsome” and “ruddy” youth “making a splendid appearance”. The writer felt the need to praise David’s outward beauty here. Why was this? It seems a strange contrast to what the writer just got through saying beforehand.
The writer is showing David as one with both a heart pleasing to God, which we are told early in the chapter, and one who is also pleasing to the vanity of man, thus presenting him as a man found pleasing to God for what He values, and the (albeit more shallow) things man values.
David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons, who had all stood before Samuel as candidates for anointing. They were all tall, handsome men, and being older they would have been considered perfect candidates. Samuel, influenced by his own lights, would have anointed anyone of them. This is why the Lord said to him that he doesn’t judge by outward appearances–because Samuel, in his natural judgment alone couldn’t choose one over the other.
When David stood before him, Samuel saw a handsome young man like his brothers, still that wasn’t the criteria the Lord used to choose David. Rather, he chose him for what he saw within his heart. This tells us that God knows each of us and what he has in mind for each of us. In this case, he wanted a king who would be faithful to his precepts and sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit unlike Saul who disobeyed God, and was easily swayed by his counselors and own desires.
…did you noticed in the passage that the prophet was taken by the physical characteristics of those in front of him?
…did you noticed how he convinced himself God’s “chosen” was among the individuals he judged to be the “right one;” yet, these were all rejected by Yahweh God?
…did you noticed that even David’s own father did not think to present him (David) as a candidate for the anointing?
…and didn’t you noticed that David’s existence was made known only through God’s prompting?:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]9 Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, ‘Yahweh has not chosen this one either’. 10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Yahweh has not chosen these’
. (1 Samuel 16:9-10)
Was David not Jesse’s son?
Yet, Jesse presented his seven sons to the prophet Samuel… David was too insignificant for Jesse to consider him chosen by Yahweh God!:
11 He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ He answered, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep’. Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes’.
(1 Samuel 16:11)
While the description of David’s esthetics may seem to contradict what the Word of God states about God’s Judgment… it is not actually inferring that God chose David because of his outward appearance. Rather, we can see that David was dismissed even by his own father as not worthy to present him to the prophet of God… we also see how the Samuel would have stopped searching the second he encountered his first few specimen–Samuel saw in them excellence in stature/manhood… he did not see into the heart… Jesse counted his adult/young adult sons as excellent candidates… thinking that David, as a boy (perhaps preteen or early teen), could not measure up to such solemn obligation as Yahweh God’s anointed!
God cut through the red tape (or would it be red sash) and demanded that David be produced… insignificant/inferior in the minds of men; yet, vital to God’s Salvific Plan!
Here’s the thing. The narrator wasn’t actually describing David as being ‘kingly’ in this passage. David lacks one thing a king was thought to need to have: physical height. An ideal king needed to tower above his subjects, see.
Saul is described by the narrator as standing “head and shoulders above all the people.” And apparently, Eliab is quite tall as well, since God tells Samuel to not focus on “his appearance or on the height of his stature.” Then comes David, who is ruddy and handsome, but apparently short and unimposing. (Some people even interpret ‘beautiful’ here as David being ‘good-looking’ in a girlish sort of way, so again, not exactly king material.)
I’m not sure the responses to the OP hit the target, about the apparent contradiction about the importance (or unimportance) of physical appearance.
I’m not a scholar, but I think the genre of writing here is a form of irony. The key is that God uses His own providence for selecting a leader. It is another example of a divine mystery being unveiled, mystery being used as a substitute for “divine will.”
Overall, the key to understanding scripture is harmonization. So, even if some verses demonstrate some reversal, it is best to meditate on it with prayer, to pray for some wisdom to unlock the mystery, God’s will.
In order to highlight the truth of the fact that *“the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
*For later we read “Why have you [David] despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites…therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” ***2 Sam 12: 9-10
***We see here that being “handsome” and “ruddy” were no defense in the judgement of the Lord.
Wis 6:7 *For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all.
I think that if God were asked he would say something like this. "Yes, he was a fine good looking young lad. Persuasive in his appearance, and for this reason would make a leader. But that isn’t the real reason why I picked him.
Rather it was the quality of his heart, the goodness that he would show to me, his own family, and to others."