"There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of wealth and valor. Kish had a son named Saul, a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he. He was a head taller than any of the people."
I Samuel 9: 1, 2, Amplified Bible
"Beauty That's Only Skin Deep"
"Beauty without grace, is a hook without bait."
Ninon de Lenclos
How do I define the word, "beauty"?
Do I find myself more accepting of those whom others say are "beautiful"?
"Why not be one's self? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?"
"To seek after beauty as an end, is a wild goose chase, a will-o'-the-wisp, because it is to misunderstand the very nature of beauty, which is the normal condition of a thing being as it should be."
Well, they asked for a king - and God gave them what they asked for - and more! When I say, "and more," I'm talking about the person God chose to be the first king of Israel. Let's be clear, God had Samuel anoint Saul, so I'm correct when I say, "God chose Saul."
With thousands of demanding children saying give us a king, God chose for them the tallest, the most handsome, and the most noticed person possible. In I Samuel 9, the very first verses go on and on about Saul's fabulous looks. The fact is, the Bible does the same thing, we will see, about David and Solomon, as well. Having a good-looking man as leader not only seemed to be a priority with the Israelites, but it was also a big plus having someone outstanding when dealing with the other nations. I asked myself, "Why was this so?" It seems to me that once the people tossed God's leadership overboard, they also tossed over the idea of beauty on the inside being a quality which they longed for. Everything began to take on an external focus. How much you had, where you lived, what you looked like - these externals became the measuring stick by which women and men were judged.
It's easy to think that because God chose someone like Saul it naturally meant he would do all God wanted him to do - far from it. For once the outside becomes more important than the inside, look-out. And this is exactly what happened with the choice of Saul, whom we will find had women in a swoon over his outside while inside there loomed a devil spirit that on more than one occasion was forceful enough to nearly take the life of those who got in Saul's way.
While you may wonder why we are taking time to examine the life and choice of Saul as the first king of Israel, I think you'll soon see how the focus of the eyes on the outside became the path that so many of Israel's monarchs chose to tread. In fact, it was the outside beauty of women, in particular, which drew in the kings of Israel with little thought at what would happen as a result of their behavior.
Thomas Aquinas wrote that the, "characteristics which define beauty are wholeness, harmony, and radiance" and we would do well to remember this truth.
Often, we are just as impressed by the outward appearance of people as the children of Israel were with Saul. We find ourselves looking for those unique adornments that sparkle their way into our hearts and lives. However, one Proverb notes that, "Beauty unadorned, adorned the most." I find this statement to reflect the life of my grandmother who would repeatedly refer to herself as a plain woman. She was not one to spend money on "adorning" herself. I found out several months ago, from one of my mother's high school classmates, that when he was a young high school student and his family couldn't afford clothes for their children, it was my grandma who told him she had an account at the local men's store downtown and just go in and tell them "Mom" sent you and the store owner would see that everything was taken care of. That's where my grandma hid her beauty - inside, not on the outside. However, a very interesting thing happened as my grandma aged. Her wrinkled face became more beautiful by the day. At 96, I'd never seen her look more gorgeous - a reflection of the beauty on the inside that radiated out to all she met.
Too bad we can't say the same things about Israel's kings who let what "caught the eye" on the outside, bring them down on the inside.
"God passes through the thicket too see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
Teach Us, Lord
"Lord, teach us to see thee
not just in stained glass
but in stained lives;
not in Gothic arches,
but in arthritic fingers.
Lord, teach us to hear thee
not just in hymns of praise,
but in sneers of disdain.
Lord, let us know thee and love thee
in all things as thou lovest us -
For thou lovest
the self-seeking as well as the unselfish;
the vindictive as well as the kind,
the sinners as well as the saints.
Thou lovest even me, Lord.
The Reverend Virginia C. Thomas
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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