God Looks At The Heart KJV: Understanding Its Biblical Context

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Published by Shannon Jacobs



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In the book of 1 Samuel 16:7, it is written, “But the LORD said to 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 God looks at the heart” (KJV).

This passage emphasizes that God’s perspective differs from ours. While we may be swayed by appearances or worldly success, he sees what truly matters—our innermost thoughts and intentions.

Understanding that God looks at the heart[1] and character can lead to a deeper relationship with him. When we recognize that he cares more about what’s inside us than our stature, we are freed from trying to impress him with external trappings. Instead, we can focus on cultivating a sincere desire to please him and live according to his will.

Key Takeaways

  • God judges by the heart, not appearance, valuing internal character over external looks, as illustrated in 1 Samuel 16:7.
  • Inner qualities like integrity and faithfulness are prioritized by God over physical appearance, demonstrated by David’s selection as king.
  • Cultivating a pure heart aligns with God’s standards, focusing on love, kindness, and sincerity, fostering a deeper, authentic relationship with the divine.

Understanding 1 Samuel 16:7 In The KJV: Biblical Context

Samuel was a prophet and judge of Israel. He anointed Saul as the first king of Israel, but God rejected him due to his disobedience. In 1 Samuel 16, God instructs Samuel to find a new king from among Jesse’s sons.

As he evaluated each son, the Lord said to Samuel that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV). This verse is significant because it emphasizes that God values inner qualities over external appearances. Eventually, Samuel found David, Jesse’s youngest son, who was chosen by God to be the next king of Israel.

The King James Bible emphasizes this message in rather unique ways. For example, it uses phrases like “the Lord seeth” or “the Lord looketh” instead of simply saying “God sees.” These archaic expressions lend an air of solemnity and reverence to these passages, underscoring their importance.

The KJV often uses more complex sentence structures and vocabulary than modern translations. While this can make it harder for some readers to understand, it also adds layers of meaning and nuance that might be lost in simpler language.

a woman sitting in a garden, hands tenderly placed over her heart

David’s Story

The story of David is an excellent example of how God looks at the heart rather than physical stature. When Samuel arrived at Jesse’s home looking for a new king, he saw Eliab and assumed he was the chosen one because he was tall and handsome, believing that he was the “Lord’s anointed.” However, God revealed to Samuel that Eliab was not his choice.

Jesse called Abinadab over, but the Lord has not chosen him. Instead, God chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, who was tending sheep in the fields at that time.

The Lord had earlier revealed to Samuel that he sought a man after God’s own heart. David had no impressive physical features or royal pedigree like Saul or his brothers did. Still, he possessed inner qualities such as courage, faithfulness, and devotion to God’s will, which made him worthy of being Israel’s greatest king ever known. King David himself sang praises to the Lord God throughout the Psalms. David was a man after God’s heart.

David became an excellent example for us all about how important it is for us to focus on our hearts’ condition rather than our outward appearance, for “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

The Importance Of Inner Qualities

God’s message to Samuel highlights the importance of inner qualities when selecting leaders or evaluating people like David. The teachings of the Bible enlighten us on the transience of physical beauty and its inability to serve as a reliable gauge of character or worthiness.

Instead, our focus should shift toward qualities such as integrity, humility, wisdom, and faithfulness when evaluating ourselves and others. Just as God chose David based on the depths of his heart rather than his external appearance, these attributes embody one’s true essence and are more likely to pave the way for personal fulfillment and success.

a heart shape paper cut, positioned on a rustic wooden table against a backdrop of vintage letters and aged books

Why Does It Matter That God Looks At Our Hearts?

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?

— Jeremiah 17:9

Outward appearances can be misleading, but God possesses the ability to perceive beyond them. While mortal beings confine themselves to superficial observations, God delves into the core of our being. This profound reality holds profound implications for those who profess their faith.

The story of David serves as a vivid illustration, demonstrating God’s valuation of character over physical attractiveness. In stark contrast, Judas’ deceptive outward demeanor and actions ultimately unveiled his true nature.

As humans, we possess an inclination to pass judgment on others based on their external appearances, countenance, and conduct. We form assumptions about individuals based on their attire, hairstyle, and even their manner of speech.

Nevertheless, these external markers can deceive us. A person may exude an air of refinement and display a pleasing physical appearance, yet harbor a malevolent heart within. On the other hand, someone may not look impressive on the outside but have a pure heart full of love and kindness.

In contrast to man’s limited perspective, God sees beyond what is visible to us and looks at the hearts of people. He knows our thoughts, motives, desires, and intentions better than we do ourselves. He sees through our outer facade and discerns what lies beneath.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should focus on cultivating a pure heart rather than being preoccupied with outward appearances (Matthew 23:25–26). We should seek to have hearts that are pleasing to God—hearts that are filled with love for him and others (Matthew 22:37–40), just as the Lord commanded.

A pure heart is one that is free from malice, envy, and deceit. Proverbs 4:23 states that we should guard our hearts above all else because everything we do flows from them, and “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV). God’s love should inspire us to have a pure heart.

Having a pure heart will help us love others genuinely, without any selfish motives. It will allow us to forgive others wholeheartedly and seek reconciliation. Moreover, a pristine conscience aids us in upholding our moral rectitude in our dealings with others.

Nurturing an untainted conscience entails pursuing divine counsel and transforming our thoughts and actions. We must dedicate ourselves to the regular perusal and scholarly examination of the sacred scriptures to apprehend the divine intentions for our existence. By doing so, we can renew our minds and transform our thoughts according to God’s standards (Romans 12:2).

Additionally, we must conscientiously shield our hearts against detrimental influences such as harboring grudges, resentments, anger, envy, and haughtiness. These emotions can easily take root in our hearts if we fail to exercise caution. Hence, it is of paramount importance to introspect and humbly implore God to illuminate any vestiges of impurity residing within our hearts.

a man standing by a riverbank at dusk, his hands gently pressed against his chest


The significance of God’s emphasis on the heart as the ultimate value cannot be overstated. As believers, our devotion should extend beyond superficial appearances or outward actions, for our primary pursuit must be the cultivation of a pure heart that brings delight to God.

We must relentlessly seek God’s divine counsel, inviting his transformative presence to operate within us, shaping our character and refining our motives.

In doing so, we can experience the profound depths of God’s love and forge an unbreakable bond with the divine. As vessels of purity, we radiate his light and goodness, influencing the world around us with the transformative power of a heart dedicated to God’s purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where In The Bible Does It Say God Looks At Your Heart?

In the Bible, it says God looks at your heart in 1 Samuel 16:7, stating, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'”

What Does The Bible Say About God Knowing The Heart?

The Bible says about God knowing the heart in several passages, including Jeremiah 17:10, which says, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

What Is Ephesians 4:32?

Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

What Verse Says God Searches The Heart?

The verse that says God searches the heart is Jeremiah 17:10, with the verse reading, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

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