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Holding Back

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Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

1 Samuel 16:11

The question appears to be rhetorical. At God’s command, Samuel travels to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from among the sons of a man whose name is Jesse. Jesse parades seven of his eight sons before Samuel so that the prophet might identify the son that will be king. He leaves the youngest, David, in the field tending to the sheep. God rejects each of the sons that appear before Samuel. … for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Consider Samuel’s question again. Are these your only sons, Jesse? God intends to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king and, yet, God rejects each son that stands before Samuel. This makes no sense, unless there are other sons. God knows that Jesse is withholding one of his sons. Samuel may know this as well. The fact that Jesse knows he is withholding one of his sons is where the question hits home for you and for me.

Jesse clearly thinks that David is not worthy of God’s consideration. But, Jesse does not have the right to make the choice for God. Everything belongs to God. What we possess in this life, we possess temporarily. This includes both material things and immaterial things such as our talent, intelligence, skills, experiences, and insights. Faith that pleases God trusts him with all these things. We must resist the temptation to withhold anything from God, particularly those things that seem inadequate or of little value. God works in ways we often do not understand and chooses what is weak or inadequate in our eyes to accomplish his purposes.

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27–29)

Are you withholding anything from God today? Will you surrender to God whatever you might be withholding as an act of faith in him?

Let’s Pray: Lord, reveal to me what I might be withholding from you so that I might release it for your glory and my good. Help me to accept that you can demonstrate your power in me through my most embarrassing and shameful failures. In Jesus’ name, Amen.