Sights and Sounds

“He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.”— Isaiah 11:3 (NLT)
“Believe nothing you hear and only one half that you see.” A famous quote from Edgar Allen Poe’s dark comedy The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, this clever piece of advice invites us to gather all the facts before jumping to conclusions. Sadly, so often we form a strong opinion of a person, place, or issue based on surface-level details, rumors, and appearances. Withholding judgment in favor of ascertaining the truth is something we rarely do.
Much like Poe’s quote, today’s verse illustrates a similar sentiment when describing the Messiah. Isaiah tells us that the Anointed One of God “will not judge by appearance,” as we are so prone to doing. Instead, He, as we see in 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT), “doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 
And He doesn’t “make a decision based on hearsay.” I especially love this, because we constantly make decisions based on “hearsay.” Isaiah was subtly showing the differences between the Messiah King, the Son of David, and all other earthly rulers. Time and time again in Scripture, we see how the reports of corrupt advisers or confidants spun the truth to fit their specific agendas—Darius’ advisers sought to get rid of Daniel, Haman sought to eradicate the Jews, and even Caiaphas sought to have Jesus crucified. 
If you’ve ever watched two news stations with differing philosophies, the same story can sound immensely different because of the way it’s spun to propagate a message that supports one’s agenda. But the Messiah is not a King who can be convinced by rumors or suggestions. He searches out the truth of things and sees into our hearts to know what is in a man (John 2:25) and judge rightly and justly. 
In Philippians 1:9–10 (NIV), we see Paul pray for the believers at Philippi, “that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” And that is my prayer for us today . . . that we would seek to be like our Savior, not making judgments about anything or anyone, but having a discerning heart that overflows with love. I pray we wouldn’t be so easily swayed, but that we would abound in knowledge and depth of insight as we seek God’s heart and will in all matters.   
DIG: Read 1 Samuel 16:1–13 and Isaiah 11.
DISCOVER: Have you ever been judged, shamed, or written off based on appearances, false rumors, etc.? How did you feel? Have you ever done this to someone or something else?
DISPLAY: Ask the Lord to give you discernment and wisdom every day. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.