1 Samuel 17:8 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
One of the most well-known stories in the Bible, the tale of David and Goliath was one of my favorites as a child. To this day I love the trust David displays in the Lord. The unwavering knowledge that since God was with him, nothing could destroy him. He went out to battle ready to face what none other would because he knew firsthand the faithfulness of God. And didn’t doubt Him for a second. What I have never caught before in reading this chapter in 1 Samuel is the reaction of David’s brother. The anger and snide remarks seem to betray loathing for David’s faith in the Lord. Or maybe Eliab’s history with David made him unable to see the mighty call God had on his brother’s life. He took David’s sureness of the Lord’s might as bravado, conceit and wickedness. I wonder how often my familiarity with people in my life taints my view of them. Instead of seeing them as God does, I judge them based on past experiences. It’s easy to assume I know everything about people I’ve known my whole life. I frequently decide for myself the “why” behind another’s actions without pausing to actually ask for clarification. I forget often that as we grow, we change. What may have been a motivating factor in the past is not necessarily a driving force today. Perhaps, like David’s brother, I’ve been blinded to the strength of character and willingness to please God in people close to me. I only see selfish ambition where really their hearts are seeking to follow the Lord’s direction in their life. I judge on my own scale, rather than allowing God to do the measuring.
What’s sad is that David’s brother should have been the biggest cheerleader on the block. Surely he knew of David’s devotion to the Lord, the tale of the bear and the lion David killed while watching over his father’s sheep. Those seem like they would have been dinner time conversations at the end of a long day on the farm. And David never shied away from giving glory and honor to God. So why didn’t Eliab recognize his brother’s faith for what it was? Faith that was a natural product of watching the Lord do mighty things in his life. Maybe Eliab was jealous. Maybe he was the smart one, the tallest, the fastest, the most physically fit. By the world’s standards, perhaps he felt God had made a mistake by choosing David. That his squirt of a brother didn’t deserve to do anything but tend the stupid sheep.
All I know is that I don’t want to get caught in the same trap. I don’t want to become so focused on what God isn’t giving to me, that I can’t be excited and supportive of God’s favor in the lives of those I love. I want to be the kind of sister, daughter and friend who is thrilled when blessings fall on those around me. To be mindful of my own relationship with the Lord, not comparing it to anyone else. David was totally at peace with God’s presence in his life. He didn’t need his brother’s approval or the fancy armor and weapons of the army to do what God called him to. When I’m secure in what God is doing in my life, not only does that free me to respond to Him in faith, I can also praise Him for how He’s blessing the lives of those around me. Even if it’s my squirt little brother.