But the Lord said to Samuel
By a secret impulse upon his mind, as if he had spoken with an articulate voice to him:
look not on his countenance;
which was comely and majestic:
or on the height of his stature;
which was like that of Saul's; and because the Lord had chosen him, who was superior to the people in this respect, Samuel thought he meant to have such an one now anointed king:
because I have refused him;
or it is not my pleasure that he should be king; though Ben Gersom thinks this refers to Saul, that the Lord had rejected him, though of an high stature, and therefore Samuel should not look out for such a person to be king; and Abarbinel refers it to the height of stature itself, that God had rejected that, and laid it aside as a qualification of a king, or as a rule to judge of a proper person to be a king; but no doubt it respected Eliab:
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth;
man only sees what is without, but the Lord sees what is within; only the outward visible form of the body is seen by man, but the inward qualifications and endowments of the mind are seen by the Lord:
for man looketh on the outward appearance;
the comeliness of a man's person, the majesty of his countenance, the height of his stature, and size of his body, things which recommended men to be kings among the nations of the world; (See Gill on 1 Samuel 9:2), or "to the eyes" F1; the liveliness, and briskness, and sharpness of them, thereby to judge of the sagacity and penetration of the mind, as physiognomists do; who guess at the disposition of men by them, when they are small or great, watery or dry, of this or the other colour F2;
but the Lord looketh on the heart;
and knows what is in that, what wisdom and prudence, justice and integrity, mercy and goodness, and other princely qualifications are in that. The Jewish writers conclude from hence that the heart of Eliab was not right; it may be, full of wrath, pride, envy which disqualified him for government.
F1 (Mynyel) "ad oculos", Montanus.
F2 Vid. Schotti Thaumaturg. Physic. par. 4. l. 7. c. 8.