We Only See, but God SEES


One of my favorite reminders that God is all-powerful is in 1 Samuel 16:7. Samuel was sent to anoint Israel’s king, and when he saw David’s older, taller, stronger brother, Eliab, he thought, “Surely this is the one.” God reminded Samuel that he sees differently: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Very often, we may misconstrue what the Lord is trying to teach us because we are focusing on the wrong thing entirely. 

  • Have you ever experienced a time when the Lord showed you that you were missing the point because you were focused on the wrong thing?


37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Jesus uttered “woe to you” six times in this section. How would you rephrase that to something synonymous with what we might use in our language today? 
  2. Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees focused on their vanity. Identify and list the common themes among the three rebukes Jesus gave them (vss. 42-44).
  3. Jesus’ rebuke of the lawyers (religious scholars or teachers) had a different focus. Identify the common themes among the three rebukes Jesus gave them (vss. 46-52).
  4. What in your own life—perhaps some preconceived idea, some bias, something you do or say—may not truly reflect the desires of God? 


Jesus accused the Pharisees of missing the point, since their true desire was to call attention to themselves. Likewise, he accused the lawyers of missing the point because they were more concerned with their own power than with the truth. Each neglected God’s true desires because they were focused on the wrong thing entirely. Jesus rebuked them in their hypocrisy. It is interesting, even ironic, that in the final two verses, the Pharisees attempted to catch Jesus in hypocrisy. 

  • Ask God to reveal to you those areas or things in your life that need to be refocused.
  • Ask God to help you remember that “God sees not as man sees,” and ask him to help you completely yield to his all-knowing will.