Of Books and Covers

“What book are you getting?” Jeremy asked his older brother Paul as they waited in line to check out their library books.

“It’s called The Old Man and the Sea.” Paul replied.

“Lemme’ see it.” Jeremy’s voice betrayed the impatience of a ten year old. After quickly glancing at the plain, well-worn cover, he commented, “Awww... that looks boring.”

Ignoring his brother’s comment, Paul inquired, “So, what are you getting?”

Jeremy held up his book. The brand new cover was brightly illustrated with modern artwork. “The Lunchroom is Haunted, it’s the latest in the Ghostly series.” he said.

“Better not let Dad catch you with that book. You know what he thinks about those.”

: :  : :  : :

Later that week, at supper, their father asked the boys to report on what they had been reading. Paul glanced at Jeremy and answered first. He told of the struggle of the old man as he used all of his strength in his fight to land the great fish. The story seemed to come alive for Jeremy as Paul recounted the rich details of the book.

“That’s what was in that old book?” Jeremy asked incredulously. Without thinking about what his father would say, Jeremy explained how the book he chose was boring. He didn’t even finish reading it.

Their dad broke in, “Have you guys ever heard the saying ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?’ I think our little discussion just explained why that saying is true. Paul’s book had been read by so many people that the cover had fallen apart, and had to be replaced with a plain one. Your book, Jeremy, has an exciting cover, but the story inside just doesn’t live up to the promise of those brightly colored pictures on the outside.

“God tells us that people can be the same way.” Their father opened up his Bible. “Here, in I Samuel, chapter 16, starting in verse 6, God has just told His prophet Samuel to go to a man named Jesse’s house and anoint one of his sons as the next King of Israel. It says

‘When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”’

“Six more of Jesse’s sons appeared before Samuel, and God chose none of them. Finally they sent for David, the youngest, who was out tending the sheep. This was the one God wanted to rule over His people, Israel.

“Do you know what God himself said later, about David?”

“Yes,” Paul answered, “that he was a man after God’s own heart.”

“That is right Paul.” their father continued, “Just like the covers of these books didn’t really reflect what was inside of them, we need to make sure that what is inside of us is what God wants, and not worry about whether our outsides are what the world sees as important... right Jeremy?”

“Right Dad.” Jeremy answered sheepishly. “Hey Paul, can I read your book, now that you are done with it?”