“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
We live in a day in which the physical is everything. Spiritual matters are forgotten or ignored. We apply this trend not only to things, but to people. We are told over and over again–mostly subliminally through the images we are surrounded with on a daily basis–that how we look is the most important thing about us. Sure, we throw a bone at the idea that the inside matters, but this is routinely just lip service. What the Scriptures proclaim, though, is something different.
Perhaps the clearest expression of this difference is when Samuel is sent by God to anoint David as king. He arrives in Jesse’s house not entirely sure about who he is to anoint as Israel’s next king. He only knows that it will be one of Jesse’s sons. The problem is that Jesse has eight sons. The assumption of both men is that the next king will be his oldest son, Eliab. And he looks the part better than any of the others. He’s tall and ruggedly handsome and buff. He’s a warrior who would later fight on Israel’s front lines against the Philistines. Samuel is about to uncork his horn of oil when God whispers in his ear to hold tight. Eliab may look the part, but on the inside he is not the guy God wants to lead His people.
This same conversation is repeated six more times as Jesse parades the rest of his sons who were there at the house before the prophet. It wasn’t until they waited for Jesse to send for his youngest son, David, that God finally whispers in Samuel’s ear that this is the guy and Samuel finally anoints him, no doubt to the envy of the other seven.
Along the way, God tells Samuel that He doesn’t look on the outside. Rather, He evaluates people based on what He sees in their hearts. Now, we can’t see on someone’s insides the way God can, but we can remember as the writer of this proverb observes, that beauty and charm are vain and deceitful. They are not at all accurate predictors of what lies on the inside. And, it’s the inside that counts most.