1 Samuel 17:28-29 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?
The “battle” had gone longer than anyone expected – in fact it had not even begun. For forty days the Israelites and Philistines faced each other across the valley. Each morning and evening (vs. 16), the giant, Goliath, marched out like a walking armored tank into the valley to issue his challenge to the quivering Israelites: Send out a champion for a one-on-one, winner-take-all fight to the death. Towering at 9’6″ and possibly weighing, with all his armor, half a ton of solid muscle, brass, iron and meanness, the giant’s challenge went unanswered.
Where was Saul? He was a warrior, and stood head and shoulders above all the men of Israel. Still, even if Saul had been 7′ tall, he would have been head and shoulders below the mighty Philistine giant. He did not step up to the challenge. What about Eliab? He looked like a king, in Samuel’s estimation (1 Sam. 16:6). Yet he was not the man after God’s own heart. He too stood by silently while Goliath mocked the God of Israel and the Israel of God.
When David arrived with a care package from home, he heard Goliath’s challenge. The heart that beat after God began to burn with righteous indignation as he heard God’s name blasphemed by the fish god-worshiping giant. David began asking the soldiers, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
At this statement, Eliab was aroused to action. No, he would not stand up to Goliath’s challenge, but he was very indignant towards his little brother’s response to that challenge. He was not angry at Goliath – but his “anger was kindled against David” (17:28). He would not face the blasphemer, but he would face his brother. He would not silence the heathen, but he sought to silence David. He would not stand up for God but he would stand up to the one who was ready to stand up for God.
Eliab questioned David’s motives – “Why camest thou down hither?” Eliab judged David’s character, implying that he had abandoned his responsibility to their father’s sheep. Eliab even presumed to know David’s heart – “I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart” (17:28).
Eliabs are a hindrance to the work of Jesus Christ. The giants blaspheme and they sit by quietly, saying nothing. The devil’s giants remain unanswered. Yet if a young man decides to do something, these brave Eliabs will be there to throw cold water on his enthusiasm.
Let someone get excited about soulwinning, and here comes Eliab, “You are just bothering people. If they want that, they will come to church. It doesn’t work anymore anyway. I tried it once. Just a bunch of false professions! Just kids anyway. These are the last days! People aren’t getting saved like that any more. Where are they all at???” Of course, Eliab will not speak up to warn lost souls about hell – but he WILL speak up to discourage the soulwinner trying to obey Christ’s command (Mark 16:15).
Let a young preacher get excited about the work of God. He has been called into the ministry! He wants to win souls, preach fervently, stand for truth, and build something for the glory of God! No giant is too tall! This young preacher looks at his giant and says, “The bigger they are, the harder I hit ‘em!” He stands for the King James Bible, spiritual music, modest apparel, clean living, separation and holiness, prayer and godly homes. He wants to send out missionaries, run buses, build Sunday Schools, and see men and women called into the ministry!
And here comes Rev. Eliab. Perhaps he is a “has been” or a “never was.” He cancelled soulwinning a long time ago; his buses are parked in the tall grass behind the church, or sold for junk; he gave up the altar call because no one came anyway; his baptistery is full of Christmas decorations; he can’t remember the last time anyone surrendered to the ministry. It’s not that he is in a hard field – it is that he won’t face his giants! And he does not want the young preacher to, either. Beware, young preachers, of the discouraging influence of a Rev. Eliab!
Eliab is a discourager. He is a wet blanket! He has the look but not the heart. He never killed a lion or a bear to defend his sheep. He does not really trust God. He does not want to fight the giant, and he does not want little brother fighting the giant, either. Let the giant blaspheme God! Eliab won’t say a thing. He only rebukes those who want to do something about it!
Well, David did the right thing. He said, “Is there not a cause?” Then, notice: “And he turned from him” (17:30). Don’t let a Bro. Eliab steal your zeal. Don’t let a Rev. Eliab rob you of your enthusiasm. Don’t let Deacon Eliab quench the fire that God put in your heart. Don’t let a Sister Eliab distract you from what needs to be done.
David turned away, faced the giant, and killed him. He went on to become the great king of Israel. Eliab? He disappeared from the pages of scripture. Rumor has it that he joined a local church – maybe yours???