Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eliab versus David as choices for king

When Samuel went to anoint the person who was to be king after Saul, he first saw Jesse’s son Eliab and thought that surely the Lord had chosen Eliab.  But the Lord told Samuel to not judge by the countenance or height and that the Lord had refused Eliab.

I think it is interesting to see how Eliab treats David later when David comes to take supplies to his brothers in Saul’s army.  While David is offended for Israel’s sake that a Philistine has defied Israel and God for so long, Eliab seems to think David is an obnoxious pipsqueak.  Theirs is this interesting exchange between Eliab and David that reveals their character so well.

28 ¶And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
30 ¶And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. (1 Samuel 17:28-30)

Based upon what Eliab says, you can see he doesn’t take very kindly to criticism, even indirectly.  David’s questioning why this Goliath thing has gone on for so long is taken by Eliab as a rebuke that he should at least have done something, since he was with the army.  (Not that David really meant that, but Eliab may have felt it that way.)

So Eliab tries to defend himself by attacking David and basically smearing him in front of the other men with this family dialogue that makes it seem like David is 1) irresponsible for leaving the sheep, 2) of no account (because he says there are only a few sheep), 3) proud 4) naughty (or disobedient) 5) nosy and 6) a risk-taker for coming down to see a battle that is none of his business and which could be dangerous to him.

What a list of false accusations!  And Eliab knows they are false too because we can read earlier in the chapter that David had time to talk to his brothers before the Goliath thing came up, so Eliab would have known that David came at the request of his father (and no doubt would have provided a substitute to take care of the sheep while he was gone), that he brought supplies (so there was a purpose for his coming), that he took care of getting the supplies to the right place before he found his brothers to talk (so he was responsible).  Eliab just said those things to try to make David look bad in front of everyone.

That’s mean old brother behavior, even when grown up!  Just from that, you can tell Eliab wouldn’t be a very nice king.  1) He made false accusations when he knows the real facts 2) he tried to discredit a younger brother, a family member 3) he tried to stamp out David’s faithful and intrepid perspective just because Eliab didn’t have it in him and 4) he got defensive from the most indirect of unintended criticisms.

On the other hand, David’s behavior is excellent.  Even when he’s made to look bad, all he says is, “What have I now done?  Is there not a cause?” (v29).  He pleads innocence, but doesn’t attack back.  He also doesn’t allow himself to be deterred from asking his questions.  He doesn’t let himself get shut up by his older brother.

As an oldest child, I learn from this that it is important to not shut down good and faithful suggestions from my younger siblings.   I also learn from David appropriate ways to respond if others are trying to shut me down.

Is there anything else in addition that you learn from this?


Bonnie said...

I love this!! I think there is much we can learn from David. Its important not to bring others down, and I love seeing David's character come shining through in this story.

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point about not bringing others down, Bonnie.
Thanks for visiting.