I have a t-shirt that reads: “The book was better.” I love it, because with few exceptions (like The Princess Bride), I think it’s a true statement. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy movies a lot, but books can go into so much more depth on plot and character development. I develop an image in my mind of how the character looks, and one of the most frustrating things to me about watching a movie based on a book is when the actors don’t look the way I pictured the characters to be when I read the story.
We are visual creatures, and if you don’t believe me, then try wearing a t-shirt & sweatpants to your next job interview or go out in public with bed-head. We make snap judgments about people based on appearance every day. Even the church isn’t immune from first impressions. Take the prophet Samuel, for example. When he met each of Jesse’s sons to determine which one would be the next king (as God had instructed him to do … see the full story in 1 Samuel), he assumed that the eldest, tallest, and/or most physically attractive would be God’s chosen one.
Boy, did God throw Samuel a curveball! Samuel didn’t even voice his thoughts aloud as he was introduced to Jesse’s first son, but God knew what he was thinking and said to him in 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV), “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” After Solomon sized up seven older brothers, Jesse’s youngest son, David, was anointed as king.
A generation later, God appeared to Jesse’s grandson/David’s son, King Solomon, in a dream and invited him to ask for something (1 Kings 3). Instead of long life, revenge, or wealth, Solomon asked for wisdom. God was so pleased with his selfless request that he also gave him the worldly things that he did not ask for. Solomon would later write in Ecclesiastes 8:1b (MSG), “Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners.”
Does having wisdom mean that Solomon was perfect? Of course not, yet I can’t help but wonder if he remembered hearing a thing or two about his dad’s experience with Samuel as he was growing up, and Solomon seemed to understand that what’s inside (our character traits and relationship with the Lord) matters more than what’s outside (mere appearances).