Today I’m over at Arabah Joy for the Grace & Truth link up. Come check it out HERE! Grace&Truth-300x300

As I’ve mentioned in the previous two blogs posts that are part of this series, I recently reread the story of David and Goliath as part of a Bible study I’m doing. Since the story is so familiar, I tried to really read it, and not just skim over it. By slowing down and really seeing the story with fresh eyes, I saw three things I had never noticed before. I wrote about the first two things – serving a living God and the necessity of leaving some things behind in order to move forward – in two previous posts.

The third thing I noticed is found in I Samuel 17:38, it says, “Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he (David) 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.”

I love the next verse. David basically asks, “What did I do now?” In the New English Translation (NET), it says, “Can’t I say anything?” It sounds so much like typical brothers, doesn’t it?

slay giants

But there was more going on here than brothers squabbling. See, this army of grown men were terrified of Goliath. They had been listening to his taunts for 40 days, and they didn’t see any way out of the battle without Israel becoming the Philistines’ servants because who could beat a guy who was almost 10 feet tall? It seemed impossible because Goliath seemed a whole lot more real when he bellowed at them from the battle field than Yahweh did.

But  to David, fresh from the sheep pasture, a 10-foot-tall man seemed no different to him than a lion or a bear. He had relied on the living God to defeat those enemies, and Goliath just seemed like a louder version.

So, David started asking questions: Who is this guy? Why does the think he can taunt our living God? What will be given to the guy who answers his challenge and kills him?

Young David’s questions hold an indirect criticism of the grown men around him, including his oldest brother Eliab. Eliab who had cowered with everyone else while the giant threw down his challenge day after day.

I’m not sure exactly what the dynamic was between the oldest and the youngest of Jesse’s sons, but Eliab’s response to David’s questions makes it clear that something was just waiting to bubble to the surface.

When we look at stories in the Bible, we have to take out a different cultural lens through which to view events. As the oldest, Eliab would have felt that he was David’s authority and would be held responsible for David’s actions.  I’m not sure if it was fear for David’s life; fear that he would have to answer to Jesse about not stopping David from getting himself killed; the fear of the shame it would bring if David got himself killed and ended up indenturing the entire nation of Israel to the Philistines; or fear that David would actually succeed. Whatever was fueling it, the Scripture says Eliab’s anger burned hot.


He was not just kind of annoyed with his little brother. He was FURIOUS.


Another thing to keep in mind is the context of the story. Just one chapter before, Samuel had gone to Jesse’s home and had anointed little David as the next king of Israel.

After God rejected the first six sons.

That included Eliab, Adinadab and Shammah who all, coincidentally, were at the battle listening to Goliath and cringing on the sidelines with the rest of Israel’s army.

When Samuel first saw Eliab, he thought he was the new king. After all Eliab looked the part, but God told him in I Samuel 16:7, “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.”

I’m sure that rejection still stung for Eliab, who as the oldest had every right to expect to be the anointed one. Now his youngest brother shows up and ends up showing him up – again.

It’s really no wonder that the man who was rejected for his own heart motivations wanted to cast doubt on the motivations of God’s chosen..

While it doesn’t say this, I believe the reason Eliab was so incredibly angry with David had a lot more to do with the fact that David’s questions and his desire for action actually reinforced his anointed status.

Let’s face it, Eliab had had ample opportunity to step up to the plate and defeat Goliath himself. David didn’t show up until the 41st day that Goliath had been issuing his challenge.

For Eliab, David’s questions didn’t just enforce his anointing, they reinforced Eliab’s rejection by God.

Pebble stack

How does this apply to us today? Well, I think it applies in a few ways.

1. People who are close to you are often the biggest objectors when God calls you to slay your own giants or to move forward. There are always a variety of reasons for this, some that even come from good things like love and concern. For instance, the mom who tries to prevent her child from doing mission work in a dangerous part of the world is probably doing that out of fear for her child and her desire to keep him or her safe. Even though her opposition comes from her love for her child, it’s still wrong because it’s selfish. That kind of opposition can be much harder to ignore than opposition that comes in the form of anger and accusation, No matter the type of opposition that comes, though, it often catches us off guard when it comes from our nearest and dearest, doesn’t it?

2. People often use perceived responsibilities to keep us from moving forward. You’ll notice Eliab asks David what he’s done with the few sheep he’s supposed to be shepherding. The implied criticism is that he can’t even do the little thing he was supposed to, so how could he be asking about a giant? In our own lives, people will point to our children or our jobs or a host of other things to keep us “in our places,” not because that is where we actually belong but because that is where they are most comfortable seeing us.

3. People who have delayed or denied God’s calling on their own life are usually the loudest (and sometimes meanest) naysayers when we move to follow God’s calling. Maybe it’s because they are truly afraid or maybe it is because it makes them look bad, but it seems that those who have chosen to remain on the sidelines are the ones who get angry about those who choose to engage in the battle. Eliab had had his own chance at going out to defeat Goliath but he had chosen to stay on the sidelines. Even though he looked like a king, God had been right when He said Eliab didn’t have a king’s heart.

4. People who object to you moving forward into God’s calling often assign false motivations to your actions. Eliab called David both prideful or arrogant and wicked. David’s motivations were neither, but he could have allowed Eliab’s anger and accusation to distract him from the task at hand – defeating a giant. I don’t know about you, but nothing feels more unfair as when someone assigns motives to my words or behavior that aren’t true.

For David, the battle to kill Goliath didn’t start when he ran onto the battle field or even when he went to pick out five smooth rocks. His battle began back in a field with some sheep when his father asked him to simply obey. It continued when he had to leave some things behind in order to go forward. It concluded when he had to ignore his brother’s anger and accusation to focus on the battle ahead. Actually running toward Goliath with his sling was the end result of all the steps forward David had made up until that point.

How about you? What task is God calling you to and what things are standing in the way of your obedience? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

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