Study Guide

1 Samuel Appearances

Appearances

And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. {continued...: Heb. multiplied to pray} Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. {of a sorrowful...: Heb. hard of spirit} Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. {complaint: or, meditation} Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:12-17, KJV)

As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, "How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time." Then Eli answered, "Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him." (1 Samuel 1:12-17, NRSV)

When the priest Eli sees Hannah praying, he thinks that she's drunk. Her lips are moving, but he doesn't hear her speaking. Eli jumps to the conclusion she's wasted, but he's dead wrong. Throughout the book of 1 Samuel, God will continually show that things are not always as they appear. If we only look at the outside of a person, we may get the wrong idea about them.

And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:2, KJV)

He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else. (1 Samuel 9:2, NRSV)

Several times in the book of Samuel, we hear about the supreme awesomeness of Saul. Apparently, he was a good-looking guy. Plus, he was very tall. Too bad basketball hadn't been invented yet. Saul looks like someone who should be king. Based solely on outward appearance, the people will think that he will be a good ruler. Unfortunately, looks aren't always what they're cracked up to be.

And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king. {God...: Heb. Let the king live}. (1 Samuel 10:24, KJV)

Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see the one whom the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people." And all the people shouted, "Long live the king!." (1 Samuel 10:24, NRSV)

Even Samuel is fooled by Saul's good looks and height. He tells people that there is no one else among them like Saul. He's taller than they are, so he should rule over them, right? Totally logical. The people are easily convinced, and they accept him as their king. But looks can be deceiving. Beneath Saul's handsome face and tall stature, there's a troubled man who proves incapable of effectively leading Israel.

And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you. {bribe: Heb. ransom} {to blind...: or, that I should hide mine eyes at him} And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand. And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness. (1 Samuel 12:1-5, KJV)

Samuel said to all Israel, "I have listened to you in all that you have said to me, and have set a king over you. See, it is the king who leads you now; I am old and gray, but my sons are with you. I have led you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you." They said, "You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from the hand of anyone." He said to them, "The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand." And they said, "He is witness." (1 Samuel 12:1-5, NRSV)

Proverbs 20:29 says that "the beauty of old men is the grey head." Modern culture is very youth oriented, so we probably think very differently about the aging process. We're always wanting things that are newer, younger, better, and faster. But old age—and the looks that go with—was respected in the ancient world. After all, younger and faster doesn't always mean wiser.

And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him. {Eliab: called Elihu} But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. {outward...: Heb. eyes}. (1 Samuel 16:6-7, KJV)

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is now before the LORD." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7, NRSV)

The Lord rejects Saul as king and decides to choose a new king. He sends Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be king. When the oldest son appears before him, Samuel believes that he has found the right person, but God lets Samuel know that he is wrong. Samuel is about to fall for the same thing he fell for with Saul—good looks equal kingly qualities. God kindly informs him that it's a person's heart that matters. Clearly, Samuel has never heard of the Tin Man.

And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. {of a...: Heb. fair of eyes}. (1 Samuel 16:12, KJV)

He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one." (1 Samuel 16:12, NRSV)

Even though God tells Samuel that he shouldn't anoint someone based on looks, the Bible stills tells us that David was good-looking. This is probably because no matter what humans say about beauty on the inside, we still like our leaders to be easy on the eyes.

And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. {armed: Heb. clothed} And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. {target: or, gorget} And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. (1 Samuel 17:4-7, KJV)

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. (1 Samuel 17:4-7, NRSV)

Tall, strong and mean, Goliath is not to be messed with. Unless of course you're a twelve-year-old shepherd with a sling. Despite the Bible's rather vivid depiction of Goliath, the text never lets us forget that David is the real hero. In the words of Lady Galadriel, even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. (1 Samuel 17:42-43, KJV)

When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. (1 Samuel 17:42-43, NRSV)

Again, we hear that David is ruddy and good-looking. He seems to be a very healthy boy. Goliath is insulted by the child before him and throws some cuts his way. But remember, the main point of 1 Samuel is that outward appearances aren't all they're cracked up to be. Unfortunately, Goliath's skull will probably get cracked open before he has a chance to realize this.

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. (1 Samuel 18:4, KJV)

Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:4, NRSV)

Before David went out to fight Goliath, Saul offered to let David wear his armor. But the armor didn't quite fit, so it was discarded. Once David defeats the giant Goliath in his shepherd clothes, he's dressed up in Jonathan's princely outfit. This story is more significant than playing dress up. David is now wearing the clothes of a prince. And if he looks like a prince, why can't he be king?

Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. (1 Samuel 25:3, KJV)

Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. (1 Samuel 25:3, NRSV)

Here, we meet a beautiful woman named Abigail. But take a closer look: the Bible also says that she was clever. Beauty and brains? That's a powerful combination. Unfortunately, she's married to man named Nabal. Ironically (or not so), the word Nabal in Hebrew means "fool." Funnily enough, David is handsome and clever, too. He and Abigail should make a good pair. Oh wait, they do. Poor Nabal.

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