Daily Devotional

Judging Motives

by Simon Whitton

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.
18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them.

22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers.
23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it.

26 David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, "This is what will be done for the man who kills him."
28 When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle."

1 Samuel 17:17-18, 22-23, 26-28 (NIV)

David followed His father's instructions and delivered supplies to his brothers. His oldest brother Eliab may or may not be aware of this purpose; but attempts to determine the motives of David's heart, and makes the most cutting accusations.

Eliab is saying something like: 'What's the real reason you are here? You are an insignificant person, who can't even take care of the few sheep entrusted to you. You are arrogant and wicked to the core; and are here for only selfish and cowardly reasons.'

The irony about Eliab's assessment of David's heart is twofold. Firstly, David had one of the greatest hearts in history; God called him, 'a man after His own heart'.

The second irony is that Eliab himself had a wicked heart. The evidence of this is in the cruelty of his rejection of his brother; and also that God rejected Eliab because of his heart:

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought,
"Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD."
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height,
for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

1 Samuel 16:6-7 (NIV)

Only the Lord can truly see a person's heart and motives. When we attempt to judge peoples motives, we judge their hearts; and what we are actually doing is exposing the folly of our own heart.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)

If you are following your Father's instructions, do not be surprised or dismayed if your brother criticizes you. Continue in obedience to your Father, even if that means supplying and helping those who condemn you.

Spend some time praying. Ask God to forgive you where you have judged people's motives rashly. Pray that your own motives would be pure, that you would be about your Father's business, and that you'd love those who oppose you.

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