Study Guide

1 Samuel Appearances

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Remember what your mother taught you: it's what's on the inside, not the outside that counts. Which is pretty much how the Bible sees people, too. We very rarely ever get to know what people look like. Only on rare occasions do you read that a man is good looking or that a woman is beautiful. In those cases, the information is only given because it is an essential part of the story. For example, the Bible tells us that Abraham's wife Sarah is beautiful because Pharaoh will be interested in her. It's not that there weren't more beautiful people in the Bible, it's just that physical descriptions aren't a big part of Biblical literature. Maybe the Bible's mommy taught it that true beauty is on the inside. Although, we guess the Bible's mommy is technically God, so that makes sense.

Despite the Bible usually not mentioning physical descriptions, appearance plays an important role in 1 Samuel. In fact, most people who know anything about the book or the life of David often like to quote 1 Samuel 16:7. The verse says that God looks on the heart (what's inside a person) and not on the outward appearance. Saul will be chosen king, and many people will accept him because he is tall and good-looking. But this a terrible mistake. David is next anointed king, and even though he's a cute kid, that's not the reason why he wins the throne. We guess it's nice to know that even thousands of years ago people were still likely to pick the good looking people first.

Or maybe that's a terrible thing to know?

Questions About Appearances

  1. What physical descriptions are present in 1 Samuel? What do they add to the story?
  2. Instead of physical descriptions, does 1 Samuel use any other methods of description? What do these tell us about the people, and the stories in which they are featured?
  3. Is there anything—or anyone—in 1 Samuel that isn't quite what it seems? In other words, do outward appearances ever deceive people in this book?

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