1 Samuel 16:7-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for [b]God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Next Jesse made [c]Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and [d]bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

It feels contradictory since (1 Samuel 16:7) states that we should Not look at appearance or stature, but then as we read on, we come across the fact that David was (1 Samuel 16:12) ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. Doesn't it sound contradictory?

  • 2
    Tall and strong was the characteristics of Saul and what they looked for in a king. Ruddy and handsome wasn't what the people looked for.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 26, 2019 at 0:33

2 Answers 2


It's also interesting to note the description of David by one of Saul's young servants after the presence of the Lord had departed from Saul, and he was being plagued by a troubling spirit. 1 Sam. 16:18 - David is a 'son of Jesse, a Bethlehemite, who is a skillful musician and a mighty man of valour (gibor chayil), and wise of speech, a handsome (sightly) man and YHWH is with him.'

In this description, appearance is a feature but is only ONE of David's attributes. The context of Saul's troubled spirit makes the last attribute, 'YHWH's presence' the most important. Saul selects other attributes to describe David to his father in 1 Sam. 16:19 as 'the son who is with the sheep.'

Compared to the description of Saul in 1 Sam. 9:2 - 'Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites - a head taller than any of the others.' David is so much more than his appearance or his height.


Great question - it certainly appears to be a contradiction.

The older son's of Jesse were certainly very handsome and of the right age to be anointed king. The oldest was possibly about 30(or more??), tall, handsome with a commanding presence.

However, David was the youngest, possibly in his early teen-age years (?). It was this very immaturity which made him the choice for what might have otherwise been the job of a hired shepherd. Thus, it is likely that his immaturity was the primary disqualification.

As a young, yet immature man, he was unqualified and inexperienced to be anointed king. Indeed, he did not actually become king until he reached the age of 30 years (2 Sam 5:4). Thus, how could it have been known except by divine knowledge, that the young David was the best person to become the future king? The prophet Samuel had the Spirit of God revealing God's will to him.

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