God had sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s seven sons as King. As six strapping young men paraded past Samuel…each time he thought to himself, “This has to be the one!” But God reminded Samuel in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It wasn’t until the youngest son, David, was called from the pasture, that God declared, “He is the one.” This should give all of us encouragement…especially those who have said to themselves, “I have nothing to offer God.” The Lord doesn’t consider outward appearances. He looks only at what He can do through us if we’re a willing worker.
A man goes to his friend’s house at midnight looking for bread…but is told to “Go away!” In this story, his friend appears not to care about the man’s dilemma. Likewise for us, there are times when it appears to be a shrouding of God’s friendship for us…or at least times when we go through seasons of spiritual confusion. The Lord will seem like a distant, unkind and uncaring friend that won’t answer our calls. It’s during those times of spiritual confusion that we need to hold steadfast to what we already know…that God is faithful, trustworthy, and true. And we need to keep doing the right things…reading our Bible, praying, and maintaining our walk…all with tenacity. For later on in the story, because of the man’s stubborn persistence…his friend did get up and give him bread.
You’re not just an acquaintance to God. You’re not some face He sees in the crowd, and recognizes you as someone He should know… but can’t remember your name. No, God knows you intimately…He knows you inside and out…He knows every thought you’ve had, every tear you’ve cried, every prayer you’ve prayed. But most importantly, He knows your name. For you are that very special to Him. And in response, what can we say but, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
In Biblical times, clay jars were used to store items of importance. In Jeremiah 32:14-15, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his cousin’s field and take the documents and place them in a clay jar. “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” This promise that they would return to their homeland would take 70 years of exile in Babylon before it would come about…but these important documents would be kept safe until then…safe within a fragile clay jar. And if you’re a Believer, you have the great power and Almighty energy of God within your clay jar…your body, placed there by God for safe-keeping.
Up on Mount Sinai, Moses had received the first set of tablets, engraved by God with the Ten Commandments. But when he came down from the mountain, he found the people engaged in an orgy. It says in Exodus 32:15-20 that, “his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces.” Moses allowed his anger to get the best of him…but even after messing up big time…God still used him. The Lord’s willingness to rewrite His Law on new stone tablets was a demonstration of His infinite mercy towards us…even when we mess up.
Jesus loves us with an unconditional love…it has no bounds…no restrictions. But can we love each other in the same way? Maybe it can be in what we don’t do that can show the love of Christ more effectively to those around us. Instead of yelling in anger and frustration at the kids…we don’t. Instead of becoming upset and disappointed with a co-worker…we don’t. Instead of allowing discouragement and despair to break apart our marriage…we don’t. For sometimes the greatest way to demonstrate God’s love to others… is in what we don’t do.
Some later manuscripts show this verse as saying, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.” Either translation is a tall order to fill. For we are a people who retaliate at the slightest notion that we’ve been wronged. Taking revenge and repaying evil with evil is touted and even celebrated in today’s social media. But this verse tells us to do the very opposite. And our example should be Jesus, who in I Peter 2:23 demonstrates, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Taking the high road in the face of cruelty may be a clenched fist, gritted teeth type of grace under pressure, but allowing God to fight your battle is worth it in the end.