When God set aside the people of Israel as His own people, He ordained that He should be their God and King. But after they arrived in Canaan, the promised land, they looked at the metropolitan people around them and despised their agricultural primitiveness and wanted to be like those in the land. The residents of the land had kings, so they decided that they wanted a king (1 Sam 8). God decided to give them a king and let them experience the depravity of their desires. Saul was the first, and after serving God for a while became conceited and God removed His blessing from him. Samuel was the prophet of God in that day and God called him to anoint the succeeding king. God directed him to Bethlehem, and to invite Jesse to the sacrifice to seek God’s plan (1 Sam 17).
David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, and the shepherd of the family. Eliab was the oldest. When Eliab walked into the room, Samuel thought for sure he would be the next king, “but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart‘” (1 Sam 16.7). Ultimately David, potentially as young as 13 years old at the time, was anointed as the next king of Israel.
Then Israel went to battle with the Philistines and Goliath, the giant, challenged the Israeli army to a duel. Whoever conquered one-on-one would win the battle, the spoils of war and rites to the land. Goliath was 9 1/2 feet tall, and trained as a warrior from his youth – along with his four brothers. David came to bring food to his brothers who were enlisted in the army and saw first-hand what was going on:
“Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?’ The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, ‘Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.’ Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, ‘Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.’ But David said, ‘What have I done now? Was it not just a question?'”
– 1 Sam 17.26-29
We all know the ensuing story: David defeats Goliath with a stone in a sling.
But Eliab caught my attention this week. David, when he saw Goliath, when he heard the threat and when he saw the cowardice of the response of Israel, did not hesitate. He knew God’s faithfulness, He understood God’s value and He knew that no one could dishonor God like that unchecked. This thirteen year-old boy knew that God was bigger, God would provide, and God would avenge His name and His people. And he was willing to walk in obedience and faith, without fear and without reservation.
Eliab was threatened by David. Eliab was a coward. He had no faith, he only saw how big Goliath was and how small he was.
And when he saw David’s faith and intentionality, instead of being encouraged and pushed on to faith and obedience, he lashed out. He questioned David’s character. He called him insolent and wicked and accused him of abandoning his responsibilities and coming just to gawk at the battle.
God looks at the heart. Eliab had wicked, man centered and cowardly heart with no faith. David trusted God. And when was questioned by his older brother, David did not even flinch; rather he turned his attention elsewhere and stayed the course.
God has a purpose and a plan: for creation, for the Church and for individuals. When God gives a Church or an individual a passion or conviction, there will be opposition, and sometimes it will be from those closest to you. And sometimes it will be hurtful, unbiased judgment of your character, calling or passion.
Oh that we would follow David’s example of conviction. The “man after God’s own heart” knew God’s worth and would not stand for Him to be dishonored. He was assured of God’s ability and conviction to defend His name and he was willing to go into battle against a literal giant, single-handedly, because He knew that He who was on his side was greater than Goliath.
Do not doubt your God. Do not doubt His worth or intention to uphold His own name and honor. And do not doubt your calling. No matter what anyone else would say. Only one opinion matters, and it is He who holds the keys to eternity and He who will say “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matt 25.21).