“…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart…”

This is a verse that is commonly used to excuse all manner of outward appearance.

1 Sam 16:7 …for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. KJV

This is one of those verses that even non-Christians seem to know and throw out along with “judge not”. However, if you will look at the full passage for the phrase you will see it means much different than it is commonly claimed to mean.

1 Sam 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. KJV

The Lord tells Samuel to “Look not on his countenance” or “on the height of his stature.” How exactly does this have anything to do with clothing? The Lord is telling Samuel to not judge David by his “countenance” meaning whether he is handsome or plain. This is not referring to clothing at all. Look at the next criteria “on the height of his stature.” This is how tall he is, not what David is wearing. David very well could have been very short.

Later in the passage, this verse is found:

1 Sam 16:12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. KJV

What does this have to do with his clothing? Not one thing, it is describing David’s physical appearance.

The Lord will judge us on our heart but we as mere men must judge only on the appearance and the fruit, not a man’s heart. A person’s outward appearance is an indicator of the condition of the heart.

A person can look perfectly modest, pure, righteous, and God fearing on the outside and have an evil, depraved, and God-hating heart. Nevertheless, a person who is modest, pure, righteous, and God fearing in the heart cannot look immodest, evil, depraved, and God hating on the outside.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. KJV

Just as out of the heart the mouth speaks, also out of the heart the clothing choices are made. Are your clothes chosen to glorify the Lord and represent Him or are your clothes chosen to glorify yourself?


2 thoughts on ““…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart…”

  1. Thank you!, your article on this website has been a real blessing, I know 2 Christians who don’t think I’m a true believer in Jesus and think that the: “22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” that Jeus spoke in Matthew 7:22-23 apply to me, but they really don’t, I know God knows my heart and that I’m saved, me believing in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, me having faith in him as such, me already confessing I’m a sinner and repenting, and accepting and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, me being saved and scripturally baptized over 7 years ago.


    Berean Wife Reply:

    Mr. Anthony,

    I’m glad you were blessed by the article.

    If I knew two Christians who felt I was not a believer I would do two things:

    First I would ask them to share why they felt that way and really contemplate if they could be correct. Then I would also examine their theology and see if it lined up with Scripture. For example: If they said Christians only ate “clean foods” then I would know they weren’t Biblical because that was done away with in the NT.

    Second, I would examine myself very closely and prayerfully. These posts might be helpful in addition to reading 1 John.

    Are You Saved?

    Are You Born Again?

    Hell’s Best Kept Secret

    Ten Tests of True Christianity

    How are You Serving God

    Ten “Christians” God Will Not Allow Into Heaven

    Six Signs of a False Conversion

    Then and only then would I rest and negate their concerns. But even so regularly every believer should consider their ways and see if they are right.

    The Lord does know our true hearts and while we can even fool ourselves, we can never fool the Lord.

    Berean Wife


Leave a Reply to Charlie Anthony Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.