Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Youth and Children: An Inside-Looking God


Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 16:7

Related Scripture Reference:  1 Samuel 16

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT).

What’s on our inside is more important than what is on our outside. Children and youth face many types of peer pressure. They are tempted to conform on the outside by copying others’ actions, manners, ways of dressing, and attitudes.

Today, we will hear a story that tells how God chose David to be the new king of Israel. Saul was the first king of Israel, but he had a bad habit of disobeying God. God decided to find a king who would obey him. David didn’t become king immediately after the prophet Samuel told him he would be the next king. He was still a young man who was taking care of his father’s sheep. But at least, David knew what his future held.

Have you ever seen the inside of a person or animal? Maybe someone you know may have cut themselves very badly, and you were able to see a little bit of their inside. Or perhaps you have seen a dead animal on the road. For most people, this is a gruesome sight. Operating room nurses and doctors see people’s insides on a regular basis.

  • What do you think it would be like to see the inside of a person? Would it gross you out, or would you be excited?
  • If you haven’t already, you will probably take a biology course at school, a part of which will be dissecting animals. You will cut open fish, frogs, and perhaps other animals and look at their insides.
  • Do you think what a person or animal looks like on the inside differs from how we see them on the outside?
  • How important is the inside to the outside? What happens on the inside determines whether or not a person can do certain things and whether they are even alive. If a person’s heart isn’t working, they are dead.
  • What is peer pressure? How does it tempt you to make your outside different than your inside?

God was supposed to be the nation of Israel’s king, but all the nations that lived around them had an earthly king so Israel asked God to give them one too. God didn’t want to—and he knew it wouldn’t be good for them to have one, but he let them make a poor choice anyway. That’s how God is. He knows what’s best for us, but he will let us make bad choices sometimes to help us learn good lessons.

Judges ruled the land of Israel before they selected this first king. Samuel was a prophet and also a judge. He had constantly rebuked King Saul for disobeying God, but Saul wouldn’t listen. Finally, God had enough. He told Samuel he was rejecting Saul as king. Samuel was to go to Bethlehem to the house of a man named Jesse. God had selected one of his sons as the next king of Israel.

Samuel had to be careful. If King Saul found out what he was doing, he probably would kill him. God told Samuel to tell the people of Bethlehem and Jesse that he had come to their town to make a sacrifice. That too would keep the king from finding out why he had really come.

All of Jesse’s sons came to the sacrifice ceremony. When Samuel saw Eliab, he thought he surely must the one God wanted as the next king. But God told Samuel not to be fooled by his outward appearance. He reminded Samuel that he looks on the inside…at a person’s thoughts and plans. God can see who we really are, not just the person we sometimes pretend to be on the outside.

Jesse paraded all of his sons before Samuel, but none of them were who God wanted as Israel’s next king. “Do you have any more sons?” Samuel asked. Jesse told him he had one more. He was the youngest and was out in the fields looking after sheep. Samuel said, “Send for him.” When Samuel looked at him, he didn’t look like kingly material.

David was handsome, but he was also a little rough looking. After all, he worked and lived in the fields while caring for the sheep. His robe was probably dirty, and he probably smelled. He fought with bears, lions, and wolves. But this was the one God wanted as the next king. So Samuel anointed him with oil. David didn’t become king for almost twenty years, but his future was sealed. God had looked on his inside and liked what he saw.

What God saw on David’s inside—that Samuel couldn’t, was that David loved God and wanted to please him. Samuel was looking at height, muscles, hair color, and weight. None of this mattered to God. He was interested in David’s heart. Not his literal heart but his heart in the sense of his relationship with God and his desire to please him with his actions. Something King Saul wasn’t interested in.

Our inside is more important than our outside. If blood doesn’t flow to one of our limbs, it will shrivel and die. If our liver doesn’t work, we can die. If our heart doesn’t pump, we will die. If our joints don’t work, we can’t bend our fingers, toes, arms, and legs.

The inside God is interested in is the part that shows we are interested in loving him, serving him, and telling others about him. Our insides are made beautiful to God when we accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and come into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, our insides become beautiful to God. It doesn’t matter how our outsides look.

Game: Just a Mask

This game will demonstrate that how we look has little to do with who we really are.

Supply List

  • one paper plate per person
  • markers, crayons, pens
  • craft sticks
  • masking tape

Give each person a paper plate. Set out markers, crayons, and pens. Have children or youth make a face mask on his or her paper plate.

On the other side of the mask, have them write three things they love. Finally, have them tape a craft stick handle to the back of the plate. Gather the masks, and scramble them in the center of the room. Have youth form a circle around the masks.

Let each person choose a mask, making sure it’s not their own. Go around the circle and have each person read what’s written on the back of the mask. Let the rest of the class guess who the mask really belongs to.

Finish by letting children or youth tell what they learned about how important our insides are.

Martin Wiles
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