Eliab, the firstborn of Jesse was the eldest brother of David. Little is said of Eliab except that he was not only tall but that he was handsome as well (1 Samuel 16: 7). To anoint the next king of Israel (since the LORD had rejected Saul as king) God sent prophet Samuel to Jesse’s home and told Samuel that one of the sons of Jesse would be the next king. When Eliab, the firstborn was presented, Samuel thought to himself after seeing Eliab, that Eliab must surely be the anointed one of the LORD, since he was handsome and tall (1 Samuel 16:6), but God tells Samuel to pass over Eliab, informing Samuel that the LORD does not see as man does; for man looks at outward appearances while the LORD looks at the heart.
Eliab enlists to be soldier in king Saul’s army. When Goliath defied the army of God that was led by king Saul, Eliab and his other two brothers (Abinadab and Shammah) did not answer the call to restore the peace of Israel, because they were afraid, like the rest of Israel to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17:11, 24) and when David comes to the army camp and questions the audacity of the giant Goliath to defy God’s army and asks about the reward that would be given to the one who would take away the reproach of Israel, Eliab gets angry. Eliab in his anger also accuses David of having a naughty heart alleging that David came to be a spectator of the war.
What can we learn from Eliab?
Tall, dark and handsome are often the traits that one looks for, in selecting an individual, especially in the context of marriage. Sometimes such review of external traits and physical characteristics is also used when dealing with the selection of successors and leaders. Like Eliab, we may come across many who are appealing in their outward appearance, but the selection of others (for God’s service) should be based on whom the LORD has anointed. God looks at the heart and we must look at the heart of others as God does. For if we fail to do so, we may be choosing those who would end up accusing those selected by the LORD to have a insincere heart. Remember, it was on matters of the heart that Eliab was rejected and we see Eliab questioning the character (heart) of David; the heart that God himself said was after his very own (Acts 13:22). The one who is after God’s own heart (as was David unlike Eliab) does not remain a spectator when the job calls for; they are ready to take action and engage in battle to secure the victory for God’s glory. The ones we choose must be the ones who are after God’s own heart, for the LORD rejects all others.
Is your/my heart after God’s own heart as was David or is it like that of Eliab?
1 Samuel 16:6-7 (KJV)
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.
7 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.
1 Samuel 17:28 (KJV)
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.