It’s hard to blame Samuel. After all, he only fell into the same trap as Israel had before. We aren’t told what Eliab looked like, but he must have looked like a king straight out of Hollywood’s Central Casting. So when the prophet saw him, he thought surely he was God’s chosen one to replace Saul. But in that moment, Samuel made the same critical mistake Israel had made with Saul, and that Saul had made with himself: relying on worldly appearances and abilities. Saul too had looked the part of the ideal king—tall and handsome. But his rule was unraveling rapidly because he took matters into his own hands instead of relying on God.
God quickly corrected his messenger Samuel: He does not look at the externals like His people were doing; He looks at the heart (v. 7). In this we see an important axiom for how God worked throughout Scripture and how He still works today. God delights in taking those who are outwardly unspectacular but inwardly humble and reliant on Him and doing amazing things through them for His glory.
What internal qualities do you believe God looks for? How can you grow in each of these areas?