What does this mean, “The LORD looks at the heart”? Sounds like it means that the important things in life are going on inside us rather than on the outside. It’s similar to 2 Corinthians 4:18, where it says, “So we don’t pay attention to the things that are seen, but those that are unseen. Because the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” The things that are going on in our hearts are the God things; the spiritual things. They are the things that really matter, because they are going to be around FOREVER.
Have you noticed that even on a natural level, the “things of the heart” are much more important to all of us than the material, worldly, earthly possessions. The things that are important are those that touch our hearts.
So in this story, God sends Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king. It says there were seven sons, and the first one up, Eliab, was a big, strong, good-lookin’ guy. Samuel just knew he had to be the one; but God said “Nope. I’ve rejected him.” Then he said the verse cited above. (God looks at the heart) The story goes on to say that David was the runt of the litter; so insignificant that they didn’t even call him in from herding sheep. Samuel said, “We’re not going to leave this place til we see him.” When David came, God says, “He’s the one. Anoint him.” And Samuel did. In 1 Samuel 13:14, it says that David was “a man after God’s own heart.”
So maybe, if we want to be people after God’s own heart, if we want to “Be Like Jesus”, we should start to focus our attention on what is going on in our hearts. Maybe we should begin to focus on the spiritual things of this life, rather than just the natural, material things like money and stuff. Maybe we really should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all that other stuff will be added to us.” (Matt 6:33)
Finally, the Bible says, in many places, that if we trust Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts, and we become ABLE to be and do the things that God is looking for in our hearts, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22) That’s what it means to have God’s righteousness in our hearts.