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A Prayer for Purity of Motive

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”—1 Samuel 16:7

The context of this statement gives us insight into what God considers of utmost value. Samuel is asked by God to find another king for Israel, and is given specific instructions to go to the house of Jesse near Bethlehem because God was preparing one of his sons to be the next king. From the oldest to the youngest, the sons of Jesse strut past Samuel in hopes that they will be chosen for the position of fame and power. When the lineup is over, Samuel is confused because neither of the sons receives the “yes” from God.

When Samuel asks if Jesse still has other sons, the youngest, David, is brought to the prophet and Samuel instantly recognizes him to be the “the Lord’s anointed.” God made it clear that a man can be towering in stature and have a shriveled soul. A man can have all the outward qualifications of leadership but have an unqualified heart. When God measures a man, He puts the tape around the heart, not the head.

What was it about David’s heart that attracted the attention of God?

David had a shepherd’s heart—he was willing to take on bears and lions for the sake of the sheep. Now he would be the lead shepherd of the nation. He also gave evidence of humility, and despite the fame he gained for killing Goliath, he willingly became a servant to King Saul, the reigning king.

Best of all, David had a worshipping heart. He wrote many of our Psalms that cry out to God, longing for the Divine presence and blessing, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2).

In his later years, David is primarily known for his forgiven heart. He had sinned deeply, grieving the God he loved. And in response, he poured out his heart to God, seeking His forgiveness and future blessing.

The bottom line: when God measures a person, He doesn’t look for outer beauty, He looks for inner integrity. He puts His stethoscope to the heart. We have to pray for hearts that are undivided in their focus and worship; we pray we will have hearts that have deep longings for intimacy with God. It’s not what others see, but the hidden parts of the heart that God sees that really matters.

Let Us Pray

Father, we pray that you would give us hearts that are filled with love for You and others. Give us a heart that desires purity and spiritual wholeness; we pray that whatever You saw in David’s heart, may it be found in ours.

Forgive us for having a divided heart. Forgive us for reserving a part of our hearts for ourselves. Forgive the hypocrisy of living in a private world that contradicts our public world. Unite our hearts to fear Your name.

Now Lord, what I pray for _______ is that they might repent of all that contaminates their heart; let them give themselves to You for Your blessing without reservation or hesitation. Let Your grace work in us so that as You look upon us, You might be abundantly satisfied.

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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