Years ago I had the privilege to travel to Italy. We had an amazing time and I consider that experience one of the highlights of my life! While we were there I constantly noticed in the local markets a large amount of "Rolex" watches, "Gucci" handbags, and other seemingly expensive items. Turns out, these were simply knockoffs of the originals and they had little to no value at all. They were imitations of the authentic. The truth of the matter is that the real stores selling these items placed value on the genuine product. I think there's a great lesson to be learned from that experience because God places great value on things as well.
There's a passage in the Bible I grew up reading and being taught my entire life. The text is from 1 Samuel 16 and deals with the beginning of king David's story, long before he would ever assume the throne of Israel. God had rejected Saul as king because of his rebellion and disobedience. However, not leaving the people of Israel empty handed, the Lord sends Samuel to anoint a new king. Not knowing specifically who this was going to be, Samuel is sent by God down to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and there he will be given instruction on who this future leader will be. It's here we find the heart of God in matters we should take careful consideration of and be aware of what our Lord values compared to us.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 we see that God values people more than possessions. One of the definitions of value is scarcity or rarity. In other words, if something is more rare or scarce it tends to be more valuable. People are no different. The passage quickly shows us that God was not interested in outward appearance or impressed by material possessions. These traits are common and temporary. God values what is eternal and here we find the overriding truth in that people are infinitely more valuable than possessions. We know this because our greatest memories are not of things, but of people. This is the reason funeral homes and cemeteries will be filled with individuals all around our nation today mourning the loss of people and not possessions. James 4:13-14 says, "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Possessions may be convenient to have and help accomplish certain tasks, but God is quick to remind us that people are precious and will always be far more valuable than any substance we accumulate.
The second lesson from this passage in 1 Samuel 16 is that God values faithfulness more than success. In verses 8-11 we are introduced to Jesse's oldest sons and one by one they are all brought out for inspection and one by one they are rejected by the Lord. No doubt, each of these men were successful in their own right and had accomplished enough that their father was proud to introduce them to Samuel as a candidate. However, God was not concerned with personal accomplishments, but was singularly focused on faithfulness to Him and His glory. This is a powerful reminder that God will always see faithfulness to His Kingdom as incomparably more valuable than earthly success. Proverbs 28:20 gives us insight to this as it says, "A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." Fame and success in this world are so fleeting and ultimately empty. This is the very reason God teaches us instead to pursue faithfulness and attaches blessings to this endeavor.
Our next lesson is one which hits all too close to home for most, if not all of us. We must learn God values His will more than ours. The passage in 1 Samuel 16 states, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth." Those words are a stern reminder of the sovereignty and wisdom of God. The Lord instructs us in Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your
thoughts." What a tremendous and humbling passage to commit to memory! We should all take heed and be persuaded that self-reliance has ruined more people than we would care to count. However, the beauty in trusting God and valuing His will above our own is that we're trusting the best plan for the highest possible good. Our motives and desires are often carnal and soaked in selfishness. We must rely on the Lord's will and always value His above anyone and everyone's...most of all our own.
The fourth and final lesson on the values of God we can glean from 1 Samuel 16 is that God values the Gospel above all else. We have the luxury of knowing the end result in this story and we find the Lord chose David so He could use David to lead Israel back to their true King, God. This was a rescue mission from the beginning and so was Calvary. You see, Jesus came in the form of an unexpected humble servant, much like David appeared in this chapter, but would go on to willingly sacrifice Himself to pay our sin debt that we might be reconciled back to God and spared from the wrath we deserved. This Gospel foreshadowing found in 1 Samuel preaches to us that God values Jesus, our Savior, and therefore we should value Him above all as well. Without Christ there is no salvation, there is no redemption, there is no hope, there is not future, and there is no true King. Far more than people, far more than faithfulness, far more than anything we must value the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cling to it with everything in us. Then and only then will we know what God values most.