1 Samuel 16:1-13

The heart, in Biblical terms, is the very ‘centre’ of our being. It is the seat of our wills, the source of our passions. “Out of the overflow of the heart” Jesus says, “the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). It is extremely important therefore that we guard our hearts, as Proverbs 4:23 instructs, especially from inauthenticity, since that same verse says the heart is “the wellspring of life.”

If you’ve crossed the line of faith, your heart has been washed clean from impurities, as Ezekiel prophesied hundreds of years ago (36:25-27) but that does not mean you’re immune to the world’s attempts to squeeze you into its mould; to corrupt your heart and steal your joy.

In a cosmopolitan capital city like London, it can be all too easy to allow self-centred philosophies and their accompanying values to penetrate our defences. Like a malevolent bit of computer code, the self virus can infiltrate the main frame of our hearts (akin to an annoying song you can’t stop rehearsing over and over in your mind) with the potential to corrupt our entire operating system.

One example of this is man’s preoccupation with externals over internals. Throughout the Christian centuries, the thing that the Church has given into again and again is a desire for head and shoulders leaders and to be a head and shoulders people (a head in the Bible stands for human wisdom, and shoulders stands for human strength).

In conformity to the world, we can inappropriately value external things, like physical appearance or theological qualifications, over internal spiritual realities. We can take on the values of this age and succumb to selfish ambition, pleasing people to promote ourselves, egotistically pushing ourselves up, whilst pulling others down, to reach the next rung on the ladder of ‘success’, as we see many of our contemporaries doing across the city.

This passage is a great antidote to this perennial problem. God’s rejection of the original head and shoulders man, Saul, in favour of David, the forgotten yet faithful shepherd serves as a powerful reminder that God is interested in the state of our hearts. He is not looking for fakers but for the faithful. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).

How authentic is your heart?