Today’s text is from 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
What does God see in David? What does God see in Samuel? What does God see in Moses? What does God see in the Israelites? What does God see in you?
Week after week this fall we have witnessed God choosing and calling people who don’t seem ready or willing or capable of doing the task that God has assigned them. Moses is supposed to speak to the people yet he claims he isn’t eloquent. The Israelites have been freed from slavery but still complain about not having enough to eat. Samuel is surrounded by the very presence and voice of God yet has no idea what is going on. And David isn’t even in the running to be king when God plucks him out of the fields to become one.
What does God see in these people? It’s a good question because at times they seem whiny, undeserving, unqualified, too young, too scared, too much of everything that would make them good servants of God.
But that’s our view. Our view is distorted by our own bias, by what society tells us, how our culture has informed us, how our family raised us. Our view, our sight, is full of blind spots that our mind simply glosses over.
Glosses over so well, in fact, that we’re not even aware of it: Because each of your eyes has a literal blind spot in them. Think of your retina – the very back of your eye – as a wall of receptors that takes in the light that you see. Now, in order for this information to be moved to your brain there has to be a pathway leading from the eye to the brain. Well, the place where the pathway connects to the retina ends up creating a small area where light is not collected – so your brain is never told what is in a small sliver of space right in front of your face.
And so your brain makes it up. Your brain literally guesses. If you’re looking at something that’s red, your brain assumes what’s in that small blind spot must also be red and so you see red. If it’s yellow, you see yellow; blue, then blue, and so on. Your brain simply fills in this missing data – fills in it so well that we never notice this blind spot and so we assume we can see just fine.
But then God comes along and shows Samuel and Jesse that God sees something different in David than they do. God comes along to Samuel as a youth and Samuel realizes he needs to hear in a new way. God comes to Moses and Moses realizes he needs to speak and lead in a new way. God comes to the Israelites and they realize they need to trust God’s presence in a new way.
And then God’s presence surrounds us. Empowers us. Calls us. God comes to us and asks us what blinds spots we may have in our lives where children of God are being left behind and forgotten? God comes to us and makes us wonder if we’re not hearing the cries of those who have been abused and oppressed. God comes to us and makes us wonder if we’re shying away from speaking out more because we too, like Moses, are afraid.
Like Moses, afraid; like the Israelites, scared; like Samuel, unaware; like Jesse, biased. None of these qualities sound good. To be accused of any of these might make us shut down, refuse to listen any further, or become angry. And yet each of these people and the whole congregation of Israelites were these things.
And it’s okay. It’s okay because they’re natural responses to the unexpected nature of God. It’s okay because they’re what happens when the path of life abruptly changes. It’s okay because they’re simply innate reactions to having our entire life upended.
And so then for the Israelites, for Moses, for Samuel, for Eli, for Jesse, for David – the question becomes: What now? What now? Now that we have seen and heard and been impacted by the very presence and voice of God, what now? Do our lives change? Does our trust change? Does our sight change? Does our hearing change?
What now? Because when Moses and the Israelites and Samuel, Eli, Jesse, and David all wonder and question what God is up to, God doesn’t abandon them. In the midst of their disbelief, in the midst of their anxiety, fear, ignorance, and biases God works with them.
God is only more determined to make sure that the people are given what they need in order to show that God is always present, always gracious, always loving, always doing what God does best: Providing grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing, love upon love.
And so in the midst of these gifts from God which cannot be taken away or lost or stolen, we, like Samuel, are challenged to look at the world with new eyes. We, like Samuel, are empowered by God to see the world the way God sees it.
It won’t be easy. To do so will be a marathon and not a sprint. To do so will create anxiety, fear, anger, and every emotion we’ve seen from the prophets of God we’ve been reading about.
And yet we can know that God will be with us. God will continue to push us and nudge us in new directions and God will continue to whisper in our ears to see the world – to see all people – as God sees them: As beloved children of God. For in and through Jesus Christ this is how God sees you: Loved, forgiven, and saved.