May 19, 2021
Thank you for your willingness to share in this burden of prayer for our prodigals and for revival.
J. I. Packer once said, “There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”
This was one of the main differences between Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, and David, Jesse’s youngest. We are first introduced to Eliab in 1 Samuel 16 when Samuel came to Bethlehem to anoint a future king for Israel. He was the first of Jesse’s seven sons to come before Samuel.
This is how it happened, “When they came, he [Samuel] looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart’” (1 Sam. 16:6-7).
After six of the seven sons were considered and rejected, Samuel asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” (1 Sam. 16:11). That’s when David came into view, and as soon as he came in from the field and was brought before Samuel, the Lord indicated that he was the one to be anointed as Israel’s future king.
Have you ever wondered what was going through the mind of the strapping Eliab when Samuel anointed David’s head?
1 Samuel 17 gives us clarity. The scene took place much later. Eliab and two of his brothers were enlisted in King Saul’s army, but these strong, capable, warriors of Jesse were cowering in fear when David arrived at the battle camp in Socoh, the Valley of Elah.
As David questioned the men about the defiant giant Goliath, this is what the text says, “Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled 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 presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle” (1 Sam. 17:28).
His anger was kindled is a nice way of saying that he “burned with anger.” It might be safe to say that Eliab’s anger could be traced back to what happened when David was anointed. Perhaps Eliab thought that he, himself, should be the one anointed by Samuel, not this pip-squeak of a brother who only tended sheep.
After all, he was the firstborn. He was the favored one. He was the one who desired the honor. And now he was here on the battlefield and witnessing his younger showing him up.
This is where the will of God comes into view. There may not have been anything wrong with Eliab, but God had a different work for him to do than what He had for David. God wanted David to be king and David knew it. He knew that God loved him and in turn, he loved God.
As for Eliab, he did not accept the place of being second or tenth to David, and he was not content to be a faithful warrior in God’s army. Instead, he wanted what David had. This is the difference between just knowing about God and knowing God! Eliab knew about the God of Israel but resented the role he had been given, while David knew God and was content in God’s will for him.
Not only was Eliab jealous of David’s enthusiasm and courage, but he was probably feeling guilty for being so afraid when he should have been standing courageously. Notice how all his anger poured out in unfair treatment of David. He questioned David’s motives and labeled him as having an evil heart. Judging motives and slander are always dangerous and damaging.
He falsely highlighted David's lack of diligence in leaving someone to care for the sheep. Very presumptuous! And it wasn’t just the sheep, but those few sheep. By belittling David, he was trying to redefine him according to his own angry heart.
The reality was that Eliab was angry with God. He didn’t understand God because he didn’t know God, therefore he was massively struggling against the will of God.
Remember the quote? “There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”
May we pursue to know God and find contentment, like David, in doing God’s will.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel