Head or Heart
The seeth not as man seeth; for man look with on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
Saul was of striking stature. “From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” No wonder Israel acclaimed him: they could all see his head. Yet how often does the head of man stand in the way of the will of God! It seems David understood this-David the man after God’s own heart, who time and time again set human reason aside and acted instead in simple faith. Confronted with Goliath(whose head was even more prominent than Saul’s) he declined helmet and mail and went out against him with but a sling. One well-aimed stone from this, lodged in the giant’s brow, brought him down. That day marked David out as Israel’s king.
There are Christians today who are ruled by their own head. Historically our Goliath was overthrown at Calvary, but spiritually Saul lives on in us still. Yet let us not look within. Saul is not our foe, his days are numbered. But if David of the shepherd heart is to reign, it is our attitude to the uncircumcised Philistine that must be clear. What he stands for must be confronted by each of us, and it must go.
No one truly knows the heart other than God. The outward appearance often fails to reveal the true nature of the person. When Samuel anointed Saul as king, I’m sure that Saul’s appearance was impressive. Kings are supposed to appear superior or greater than the average person. They are to be looked up to and present a model that others desire to become. But outward appearance isn’t the measure of a person as we discover with Saul. While he was a big man outwardly, it’s not long into his story that we discover inwardly he was actually small.
His decisions as king were small, self-centered, and often at great distress to the nation. He ruled by his head, but as well all are aware, wisdom comes not from arrogance but from humility. That’s the truth of even Christians who believe they are intelligent and knowledgeable enough to make life decisions without consulting with God. What Saul apparently didn’t know and what we fail to understand is that human reason and logic are often flawed. Our sin nature has corrupted our minds and they are often subjected the deceptions, seductions, and delusions of the world and the devil. Most of us if we’re honest would have to admit that far too often we have made poor decisions when we relied upon our own wisdom.
Much of the confusion, division, and contention in the church today stems from our reliance on human reason rather than having hearts after God. Overwhelmed by information that upon first glance appears to be reasonable, right, and compassionate, we let our heads lead. I have no doubt that many well-meaning, caring people try to find the right answers but they follow the intellectual reasoning of their minds unaware that the information and the logic are both flawed and tainted by their and others sin nature. This human logic appears reasonable when it states that any conduct, lifestyle, and such is justifiable and acceptable if it is rooted in “love.” That might be true if we were able to define what true love is. I don’t think there’s another word more distorted or corrupted than “love” is. Is has been defined as a subjective feeling that ignores all boundaries if necessary to provide for the desires of humanity. This kind of reason cannot comprehend the death of Christ on the Cross nor the love of God who moved the Father to give up His Son for fallen humanity. Today’s version of love includes little of sacrifice and lots of self-serving demands. But those whose hearts have been truly captured by Christ desire to fulfill God’s plans, desires, and purposes as they honor the One who “created all things for His pleasure.” These acknowledge the wisdom and sovereignty of God on planning and designing the universe, the earth, all the earth’s lifeforms, and humans as they are formed in their mother’s wombs. These accept that they cannot fully understand all the ways of God but trust that He really does know what He’s doing and one day they will either understand or it won’t matter,
What a contrast to Saul David was. Here was no regal kingly person who “stood head and shoulders above the people.” Instead we find an insignificant son of Jesse. So unimportant and unimpressive was David that he wasn’t even invited to the dinner with Samuel the prophet. Samuel had been sent on a mission by God to choose Israel’s next king. He asked Jesse to line up his boys for review. Passing down the line, Samuel became excited when he saw the oldest son. Here, he thought, is surely the one God has chosen. He certainly looks kingly. To his surprise, God said that this was not when He had selected. Passing down the line, Samuel stood before each son only to hear, not the one. Coming to the end of the line Samuel asks Jesse if there’s another son. Yes but he out with the sheep. When David was finally brought and presented to Samuel, God said to him, this is whom I’ve chosen. The least likely- at least from outward appearance- was God’s choice.
For Christians today, we are often ruled with the outward rather than the inward. The significance of our inner heart’s condition cannot be minimized. Scripture says that Satan appears as an angel of light- outward appearance- but in truth he is filled wickedness. Often we allow what we see, hear, feel, taste, or smell to dictate our actions, perceptions, and decisions. We allow out appearances to determine who we are. We may stand before a physical mirror or the mirror of public opinion to gauge our self-worth or the worth of others. We often look to those who “stand head and shoulders above” for our sense of direction never questioning who holds their hearts. We allow ourselves to be drawn into darkness and destruction because the “angel of light” has blinded our minds. The Israelites followed Saul into battles and lost because he led with corrupted reasoning that stemmed from a corrupted heart.
David was a man with great problems. Often his head reasoning got him into deep trouble. In his case he recognized that fact and in every failure he responded with “a heart after God.”
You and I have to choose whether we will listen to our head that tells us our Goliaths are impossible to defeat so we let them reign over our lives, or will we instead let our hearts that have been captured by Christ to rule the day. Our heads may move us to hide in fear each time Goliath roars, but our surrendered hearts know that the battle is not ours but the Lord’s and He has already won our victory.
Dr. John Thompson