194. DAVID, ELIAB AND GOLIATH

(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)

David was the last of Jesse’s eight (8) sons and the one who kept his Father’s sheep. When Samuel the Prophet, acting on God’s instructions, gathered Jesse’s sons together so that he could anoint one, David was not among them. He was keeping the sheep.

If Samuel had asked Jesse to gather all of his sons together, then it seemed that Jesse did not consider it a big thing that David, one of his sons, was not among them. Maybe he thought that surely, for whatever purpose Samuel had come, it would have nothing to do with David, the last and seemingly least esteemed of his eight (8) sons.

It was only after the Lord rejected all of the other sons, that Samuel (who had initially thought that Eliab the firstborn was God’s choice), found out that Jesse had a eighth son, the youngest, who he promptly called for. When he came, God having identified him as the one, Samuel anointed him with oil to be the next king of Israel.

The Bible states that Samuel did this in the midst of David’s brothers, so they witnessed the event (1 Samuel 16:13).

Later on, David was sent for by king Saul to play music because he heard that he was skilful with instruments and David became his armourbearer. When Israel went out against the Philistines to battle though and Saul with them, David returned to his Father Jesse, to feed his Father’s sheep in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:15).

Jesse’s three (3) eldest sons also went to the battle with Saul against the Philistines. At some point after David returned to Jesse therefore, we learn that Jesse instructed David to carry some food to his brothers and to see how they were doing. This reminds me of what Jacob did with Joseph and like Joseph, in obedience, David went.

1 Samuel 17:17-22, it reads:

  • “And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp of thy brethren; And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
  • And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.”

While there, David overheard the champion of the Philistines, Goliath, boasting and daring the Israelites to send someone against him to fight. The Bible states of Goliath:

  • “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
  • And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
  • When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:4-11)

All this had taken place before David had arrived but while talking to his brothers, the Bible states that Goliath repeated the words within the earshot of David. Verse 23 states, “And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.”

When Goliath spoke, all the men of Israel seemingly forgot that God’s power trumped all and that this man Goliath was no match for HIM. Based on his great, swelling words and how great he looked, they abandoned faith and in defeat, before they had even begun the battle, they agreed with his words, that he defied the army of Israel.

The Bible states in verse 24-25:

  • “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.

Whereas this man Goliath filled all of the Israelites with fear because of his intimidating stature, appearance and self-confidence, David was not. In verse 26-27, it reads:

  • And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.”

When Eliab, David’s eldest brother, heard what David was asking though, he was very angry with him.

Clearly, he did not think much of David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, although he had witnessed and therefore knew, that he had been anointed. Maybe he dismissed the anointing as unimportant, of no consequence or that Samuel the Prophet must have been mistaken. After all, this was David, the last of the sons and one who in Eliab’s eyes, seemed only fit to keep the sheep.

The Bible states in verse 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.”

Eliab was therefore condescending to David his brother and did not appear to think much of him or that he would amount to anything significant or worthwhile in life, despite the fact that God had seen it fit to anoint him. One can almost sense the contempt in his voice when he asked David, “…and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness?”

Notably, he did not just say “…those sheep” but “…those few sheep…”, seemingly underscoring how little he thought of David.

He also insulted David, suggested that he was irresponsible when he questioned who he had left the sheep with, accused him of having pride, which basically can be construed to mean that he was full of himself and imputed bad motives to his actions. He told him “…I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”

On the whole, Eliab’s cutting words were meant to suppress David, to remind him of his place and to stamp out any ambition that David may have been conceiving in his mind, as it pertained to the battle with the Philistines.

Although Eliab was David’s brother therefore, spent years around him, had the opportunity to get to know him really well, saw him grow up and therefore should have been an authority on David’s character, he got it terribly wrong. He misunderstood David, accused him of being up to no good and as having ulterior motives for coming.

Yet, Eliab was wrong. David had come because his Father Jesse, concerned about his three sons’ welfare had sent him to them. Simply trying to be obedient to his Father, the Bible states that in response to Jesse’s instruction, “…David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him.”

Eliab was not privy to this fact but yet he jumped to conclusions and thought the very worst of David.

Although Eliab had convinced himself that David his brother had naughtiness in his heart and was proud, ironically, God, the best judge of character and the only one that truly sees the heart of every man, chose David to be the next king of Israel, Samuel stating earlier to Saul of David, “…the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart.”

David therefore found no favour with Eliab but he found it with God.

Ironically, although Eliab accused David of having naughtiness in his heart, earlier on when Samuel mistakenly thought, based on Eliab’s appearance, that he was God’s anointed, God rejected him, on the basis of his (Eliab’s) heart. Although he was busy hurling accusations against David therefore, unaware to him (as is typical of a man that is proud), he had been weighed by God and found wanting.

That is, knowing Eliab’s heart, God did not choose him but esteemed David to be more honourable than he. In 1 Samuel 16:6-7, it states of Samuel:

  • “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Unlike Eliab therefore, David was a man after God’s own heart, someone who God observed and singled out for his purposes from among his brothers but yet, Eliab, his own brother, greatly misjudged his character.

In fact, others could see David’s upstanding character but Eliab (and possibly other members of David’s own family, if they thought similarly to Eliab), could not. For example, when Saul’s servants advised that he get someone to play music to him whenever he was troubled by an evil spirit, one servant highly commended David and spoke in glowing terms of what he had observed about him, to the king.

1 Samuel 16:17-18 states:

  • “And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.”

This stranger had discerned, from his observations of David, that the Lord was with him, yet Eliab, David’s own brother, who ought to have known him best, did not perceive this, although he had witnessed Samuel anointing him.

Despite Eliab’s hurtful, insulting, condescending and accusatory words, David, who had the Spirit of the Lord upon him from the day he was anointed, did not back down, back off or stop enquiring about the issue pertaining to Goliath. In response to Eliab’s scaling attack and put down, David said, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”

He then turned away from Eliab and continued speaking about the issue. Verse 30 reads, “And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.”

What Eliab did not realize was that:

  • 1 – David was handpicked by God for a special purpose and was anointed by Samuel on his behalf, accordingly;
  • 2 – When David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. David therefore was not paralyzed by fear but propelled by God’s enabling power;
  • 3 – No matter how lowly Eliab thought of David or how badly he viewed him or how hard he tried to suppress him, it would not work because God had a purpose for David’s life and nothing, not even a family member, could derail that purpose.

Eliab, as the eldest son and probably used to commanding respect from his siblings, must have been shocked therefore, when David practically ignored him and continued discussing the matter. He failed to realize that David’s call was bigger than his pettiness, ego or whatever it was that he was dealing with. As Saul’s servant perceived, God’s hand was upon David’s life and what he had willed for him, would be accomplished.

Maybe (and I’m merely speculating), Eliab was accustomed to putting David down with his words, calculated to keep him in his place and to make him feel like he was worth nothing significant. If so, this time, it did not work. For, the Lord’s hand was upon David’s life. His Spirit was with him and absolutely nothing and nobody, can withstand the power of almighty God. David was destined by God for great things and there wasn’t a thing that Eliab or any of his brothers could do about it.

There was one more thing that Eliab did not realize. Although he seemingly considered David, as good for nothing else, other than to attend to a few sheep in the wilderness, he did not realize that it was in those moments of attending to so measly a task, that David had some of his most powerful experiences and encounters with God. It was while out in that wilderness, he and the sheep alone, doing a task that Eliab seemingly thought very little of, that God demonstrated the awesomeness of his power.

The world did not see it. Those moments were private but nonetheless, God showed up mightily and enabled David to do great exploits. Daniel 11:32 rightly states, “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

When David took up the challenge to go fight Goliath, we gain some level of insight into these wilderness escapades with God. We gain some insight as well into the level of David’s faith and the strength of his relationship with his God, which had been nurtured overtime. Saul, looking at David’s young age and size, doubted whether he could go up against Goliath, that great champion and man of war. Yet, having been trained by God privately in the wilderness, in response David told him:

  • “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.”

The Bible continues in verse 37 that, “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”

David did not make a boast in himself but in the Lord. He understood fully, that it was not by might nor by power but by HIS Spirit, that he had gotten the victory.

Having seen God show up and show off in that wilderness, while attending to the sheep, he was convinced, that by the same power that God used to help him defeat the lion and the bear, God would use that same power and enable him to defeat Goliath, this man that dared to defy the armies of the living God.

This is exactly what David went on to do. Armed with his staff, five smooth stones, his shepherd’s bag and a sling, he approached the battlefield. Like Eliab, the Philistine did not think much of David. In fact, he considered it an insult that the Israelites sent him to fight against him.

The Bible states in 1 Samuel 17:41-44:

  • “And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.”

Being once again the object of insults, put downs and estimated to be capable of nothing worthwhile, David did not allow these words to deter him. Just as he ignored Eliab and pursued after God’s agenda when Eliab hurled insults and accusations at him, the Bible states:

  • “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran TOWARD the army to meet the Philistine.
  • And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.”

Imagine, this little pipsqueak (who Goliath, Eliab and maybe others in David’s own family thought so little of) was used mightily by God, to bring down Goliath.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the first time either, that David had been used by God to do great things. This is evident in his recounting to Saul of his experiences with God in that wilderness, while attending to the sheep. Some people didn’t think much of him, he knew but he also knew what God had put inside him and that he could do all things through the Lord that was strengthening him.

When God showed up and showed off on that day therefore, enabling David to take down Goliath, it wasn’t the first time. God had a track record of doing things like that in his life. The only difference was that this time, it wasn’t a bear or a lion but a man who foolishly thought in his pride, that he was invincible. This time as well, although nobody other than David was around on the other occasions, God chose to work through David publicly, in the presence of the Israelite army and in the presence of David’s three (3) brothers, including Eliab.

Yes, God has a way of silencing the naysayers.

Some of you are like David. Unfortunately, you have family members or are surrounded by people that think of you as nothing or nothing much, that treat you with little or no dignity, impugn bad motives to your every action, misunderstand you and accuse you of being full of yourself (if you aspire to do great exploits in life for the Lord) and as having naughtiness in your heart. Such people constantly try to do as Eliab tried to do, to stamp out your dreams and aspirations, to keep you suppressed, to strip you of your dignity as a human being and as a child of God and to remind you of your place.

Yet, if you are a Christian, God anointed you, called you his own and his holy Spirit is indwelling your life. Of this anointing (unction) which every bona-fide Christian has, the Word of God states:

  • “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God” (2 Corinthians 1:21)
  • “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (1 John 2:27)
  • “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John 2:20)

If you are a Christian, God has anointed you, beautifully equipped you and enabled you to represent him in this world and once you abide in the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to his will, like David, he has purposed to do great exploits in your life, to his honour and glory. Yes those around you may not believe it or that God would ever wish to use you for anything worthwhile but that does not change anything. God does not care for the opinions of man. Whatever he has willed, who can disannul it?

In Isaiah 14: 24 and 27, it states:

  • “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

The battle that the Israelites had with the Philistines is like the battle that Christians face today against their enemy the devil. As you, willing to go out and fight against him, so as to subdue his great boasts by the Word of God (through the promulgation of the gospel and the edification of the saints), there are those, sometimes even your own brothers and sisters (whether biological or spiritual), who will try to suppress you. They will try to make you feel unworthy of the task, accuse you of being full of yourself, impugn bad motives to your aspirations and be angry with you, even as Eliab was with David.

Yet, whatever God has sanctioned or purposed for your life, can in no way be derailed or thwarted by the efforts of any person, who plants himself or herself in opposition, to what HE has willed.

God was with David and he purposed that he would take down Goliath that day and all of Eliab’s anger was for nought because that is exactly what David did. Similarly, whatever God has purposed that you will do, shall be done, despite the noise of the naysayers.

In fact, although those around you don’t know it, you have many testimonies of how God showed up and showed off in your life before, strengthening you with power from on high and helping you to do what seemed to be impossible. You have stories of how he came through for you supernaturally, enabled you to have the victory over some of the proud ‘giants’ of this world and delivered you from dangers, perils and foes, even if people discount you and think that you are good for nothing.

Keep your eyes on the Lord. Press on undeterred as David did, even in the face of put-downs, insults and accusations. People may jump to wrong conclusions about you and misunderstand your motives but God knows you inside, out. He knows your heart.

In Jeremiah 1:5, God told Jeremiah: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Similarly, in John 1:47-48, it reads:

  • “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.”

Others may not have seen but God has been with you through thick and thin throughout the years and like David, you have testimonies of ‘wilderness escapades’ with him. Whatever he may choose to now do in your life publicly may shock people and especially those around you who think little of you but you know, that he has been doing these sort of things in your life repeatedly. It is nothing new. It is just that this time, God is choosing to do it publicly.

As I wrote some years back, having experienced the Lord’s hand in my life in mighty, mind-blowing, logic-defying and miraculous ways, time and time and time again:

  • If you are a child of God because you have accepted Jesus Christ his Son into your heart, have confessed him as Lord and believe that he is who he says he is, you may find, even as I have, that people may never acknowledge the things you have been through or appreciate how far you’ve come. You may find that they may dismiss the glorious stories that God has given you and the various testimonies that you can give, of the miracles that he has worked in your life.
  • Yet, the good thing is that their indifference could never invalidate the fact that you have experienced the POWER, the MAGNIFICENCE, the AWESOMENESS, the GRANDEUR, the SUPERNATURAL, the GLORIOUS DELIVERANCE, PROVISION, PROTECTIVE CARE and FAVOUR of the true and living God, that loves you with an everlasting love. Keep trusting in God and experiencing his mighty hand at work in your life daily. Keep sharing your testimony of what he did for you and of the miracles he worked.

(Written on 20th and 22nd August, 2021)

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