The Lectionary passage today takes us back to the time when a new king of Israel was to be selected from among the sons of Jesse. Samuel was in charge, and as he looked over the fine specimens standing in front of him, he assessed them by their height and physical appearance. Watch what happens:
1 Samuel 16 (The Message)
6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”
7 But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”
10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”
11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”
“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”
Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”
12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.
God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”
The runt, of course, was David, who is still thought of as one of Israel’s most powerful kings. And he wasn’t even in the running.
Have you ever felt like that?
I suspect that one of the greatest roots of sibling rivalry is feeling inadequate in comparison to one’s siblings. If your sisters and brothers are good-looking over-achievers, you may have grown up feeling like the runt of the family. I know a very accomplished third-born who, in his 50’s, was still comparing himself to his high-achieving older sister and brother and calling himself “the runt.”
Isn’t it good to know that there are no runts in the family of God?
This story reminds us that God sees all of our potential, beauty, and promise with no comparison to those around us. He sees us as uniquely designed in HIS image, and recognizes the value inherent in each of us….a value that he himself imparts to us, so we can trust that it is GOOD, just like the rest of his creation.
You matter to God. You are highly valued by him. You, indeed, are the apple of his eye!
So if you woke up this morning feeling a little inadequate, a little left out, or a little down, remember that God cherishes YOU. You are a child of God in a family that is runt-free. Thanks be to God!