Summary: First in a series on the life of David describing the perils of comparison and finding one’s true worth in the way God views us, his child created in his very own image.
Adam to Eve: “Do you love me?” Eve: “Yes.” Adam: “I mean, really love me?” Eve: “Yes, Adam.” Adam: “Really and truly?” Eve, looking around: “Adam, who else?”
Something within each of us wants to know
whether we are OK,
whether we are good enough,
whether we measure up.
Speaking of Adam and Eve, someone has suggested that they had an ideal marriage. He didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married--and she didn’t have to hear about the way his mother cooked.
Many people battle an inferiority complex, a feeling of not measuring up, always feeling less than others, less than some ideal they sense they should live up to.
A woman who went to a psychologist and said, “I have an inferiority complex.” The doctor spoke with her a while and then administered a battery of tests. She went back to the psychologist and he said, “Well, it’s no complex. You really are inferior.”
We often receive the message, in one way or another, from the different people in our lives, that we are inferior. Differences become yardsticks by which we are measured.
We are not like a co-worker.
We are not as bright or as attractive or as athletic as an older brother or sister.
Perhaps Mom and Dad weren’t so subtle in the way they favored one child over another.
The teacher had pets and it wasn’t us.
They always picked someone else to be on the team instead of us and we came to believe we were not as good.
We did not have as much as someone else had.
We did not get ahead as quickly or as far as other people or made as much money or we weigh more or we’re not as intelligent or as socially smooth.
Maybe no one said it out loud, but we kept getting the message, “You are not quite good enough. You should be like other people. You do not fit in. Why can’t you be like so-and-so?”
David lived nearly a thousand years before the time of Christ. He was the youngest of eight sons born to Jesse, his father. As a boy and a teenager, David’s job was to care for sheep.
When David was growing up, Saul was the king of Israel. (This is not the same Saul we read about in Acts, whom we know as Paul, who wrote so many New Testament letters hundreds of years later.) But King Saul was disobedient to God and displeased him so much that God decided to remove him as king. God then directed Samuel, the prophet and spiritual leader of the time, to anoint a new king.
God sent him to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse, because God said one of Jesse’s sons would be the next king. Samuel told Jesse that he was coming to his home to offer a sacrifice and worship God, which would have been a great honor for Jesse. It would be like the bishop or Billy Graham coming to your house. So Jesse gathered all his family, including his sons, or, as it turned out, most of his sons.
Samuel was anxious for God to reveal which one of these sons would be the future king, to take the place of Saul, the failed king. So he had the sons come before him. He looked them over, listening for the voice of God to identify the chosen one. Eliab, the oldest, stepped up first. The Bible says that Samuel “looked at” Eliab. That’s significant because like many of us, Samuel was impressed by what he could see. He looked at him, but with his physical eyes, he could only see his appearance, the externals. “Surely this is the one,” he thought. He just looked like king material. He was no doubt tall and impressive and an imposing physical presence. We also know that Eliab was a military man because when David later visited the front where the Israelite army facing off with Goliath, Eliab was there.
But while Samuel looked at Eliab’s appearance, he could not see his heart. He could not see his character, his thoughts, his attitudes. He did not see, for example, that Eliab was negative and critical. We get a glimpse of Eliab’s attitude and heart later when the Israelites are battling the Philistines. Eliab the solider severely criticized David his little brother for coming out to the battlefield instead of being in the field watching the sheep.
Samuel, like many of us, would have stopped at the surface, with the physical, the outward, except God made it clear to him that Eliab was not the one. That had been the problem with Saul, after all. Saul was tall and impressive, a head taller than anyone else, but the problem was deeper than eyes could see, a heart filled with self, fear, paranoia, and cunning instead of a heart after God.