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.” 1 Samuel 17:28
Judgmental words can sting! Instead of Eliab explaining the situation to his younger brother David or wanting to hear David’s reasons for asking about Goliath, he hurled an accusation against the shepherd boy: “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is…”
One has to wonder where this anger was coming from. It’s true that family members have front row seats to our weaknesses and tendencies, but Eliab certainly had the choice to be an older, wiser brother at that moment. Unfortunately, he chose to fire a verbal, stinging arrow toward the character of David.
In an earlier chapter, we find David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons and the shepherd boy of the family, being anointed king by the Prophet Samuel. Imagine what went through the mind of Eliab! Eliab was the firstborn. If there was to a blessing of leadership among the sons of Jesse, it would be natural to assume that God would pick him! Also, Eliab had the stature of a warrior and was part of the army of Saul. He was Samuel’s bet as God’s chosen one, but the all-knowing God who sees human hearts perfectly, had this to say: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Eliab’s heart. David’s heart. God knew the difference between the two. And He chose David as the anointed king of Israel. Not Eliab.
This snippet of Scripture certainly gives us something to mull about: How do we feel when we are passed over? When God chooses someone else instead of us? Do we hold offense against God? Against the person chosen by God? Do we allow our anger to fester inside us—so much so that we miss the log in front of our eyes and use it as the very accusation we hurl at “God’s chosen person”?
If Eliab could only see how the destiny of David would climb to new heights that day! If he could only catch the courage in his brother’s voice or the desire to fight for the honor of God! If only Eliab could catch the delight of God for his brother!
Can we rejoice when God chooses another and not us? It’s not because God loves us any less. It’s not also because one person is more “Christian” than the other (David had his behavioral lapses). But God does have destiny written in each of our hearts; He knows each heart’s yieldedness, and He knows the unique role we each play in His Kingdom. The key is to see each other through the eyes of God—with the love of true family. This means we rejoice at other people’s victories. This means we fight for family, protect and empower family, and NOT fight against family.
I find that God usually tests our hearts with painful things like being passed over. He checks how we handle rejection. Do we turn angry? Murderous? What if someone younger gets a role we wanted? Do we respond with a humble kind of love that enables us to see God’s unique fingerprint in the other? Not all of us can carry the responsibility of being king or queen or president. But we all have something to do in the sight of the Lord, AND we all have a particular Goliath to slay.
Let’s be people who rejoice in God’s victories and choices. Let’s be secure in knowing that God loves each of us and has a unique destiny for us all.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.