XIII. THE LORD DOES LOOK ON THE INSIDE
There are those who would take all the preceding expositions and dash them to pieces with one commonly misused verse: 1 Samuel 16:7 “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.” According to William F. Hill, “You have just read one of the most misunderstood and misapplied Scriptures in the entire Bible” (What is Holiness?, pg 45). What then does this portion of Scripture really mean and why is it so often taken out of context? Is God only interested in the “inside” and not the outside? The Lord does look on the inside, but He doesn't ignore the outside.
The interpretation of this is so simple; I question how anyone can misapply it. The Lord Himself defines the comment prior to speaking it by saying “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature.” When looking for another leader to go before them and lead them in battle if necessary, Samuel and Israel expected a man like Saul who “when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward” (I Samuel 10:23). This is clear from verse 6 where Samuel “looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” But, God was telling Samuel to ignore the physical size or the muscular appearance of the man to be anointed. That was all that the statement implied and nothing more. You cannot hide behind this Scripture when referring to your outward appearance concerning jewelry, piercing, tattooing, and painting with cosmetics. There is clearly no relationship between these practices and what God is teaching Samuel.
No one would have suspected the youngest son, David the shepherd boy, to be anointed as the next king. “Eliab’s command, as head of Jesse’s sons, was regarded by the rest as authoritative and the youngest, David, was thought scarcely worth bringing before the prophet Samuel Hence, he had assigned to him the charge of the flock, ordinarily assigned to the least esteemed of the family, women, and servants, as was the case with Moses, Zipporah, Jacob, Rachel” (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary). Samuel was impressed by Eliab, the elder son of Jesse, due to his family position and size, but God cautioned the prophet who at this instance was thinking like men think and looking upon the physical stature as men do.
This is according to God’s way of doing things as stated in I Corinthians 1:25-29 “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Referring to the Scripture just quoted, Bill Burkett comments, “This is too often quoted to imply that there is no merit to the visible virtues of modesty and chastity as it may affect our appearance as Christian men and women” (Principles of Purity, pg 43). Nothing could be farther from the correct interpretation of this Scripture. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yet some say the outside is not important. They say, “God looks on the heart of a man and not on the outside of a man.” If anything is okay for the outside then, nothing is just as well appropriate. Along these lines of thought, one extreme is just as right as another is. Therefore, nudity would be just as appropriate as being completely clothed.
Still some will argue that what’s on the outside is not important. If it is true, "‘What’s on the outside is not important,’ every inner virtue has external manifestations while every inner evil, such as, worldly glamour, immodesty, sensualness, selfishness, haughtiness - all of these vices manifest themselves visibly as do the virtues. If ‘what's on the outside doesn’t matter,’ then those who spend so much time and money adorning themselves shouldn’t be spending so much time and money doing so”(Salt Guide to Practical Holiness Old Testament Isaiah, Bill Burkett).
It is appropriate neither to over-emphasize the outside nor to de-emphasize the outside. However, “It is as necessary to impress man with visible righteousness and purity as it is to impress God with the sincerity of the inner man” (Principles of Purity, pg 43, Bill Burkett). It is true, we cannot see the heart as God does, but the issues of life come forth from the heart and are manifested outwardly.