(SSS* Week 5)
David defeated the champion Goliath with a sling and a stone. Then, thanks to Jonathan’s loyalty, his own quickness, his wife Michal’s fidelity, and Samuel’s protection, he managed to escape King Saul’s attempts to murder him four times!
Prior to these two significant events in the life of David, we are told of yet another character building interaction.
David was sent by his father Jesse to see how his brothers were doing. Once he reached their camp, he heard for himself the threats of Goliath, the Philistine giant or champion, as some translations describe him. David knew that the disrespect of this Philistine reflected upon the living God himself. He, therefore, made it his priority to defend God’s name. David’s next move was to ask what the reward was for the one who defeated this giant. He did not ask this because he was interested in the reward. This was a strategic move to eventually gain King Saul’s ear. However, when his older brother Eliab heard him asking these questions, he became jealous and sought out to aggravate, discourage, and intimidate David.
In verse 28 of 1 Samuel chapter 17 Eliab asked David, “Why have you come down here?” and “With whom did you leave those few sheep?” Now we see that being challenged by a champion and fleeing attempts to be killed by a king followed being badgered by his brother. Talk about “one thing happening after another!”
First of all, David came because his father told him to come (1 Samuel 17:17). Secondly, he made sure his sheep were left in good hands (1 Samuel 17:20). Clearly, Eliab is falsely insinuating that David is a careless and unfaithful shepherd1.
Lastly, Eliab is, all of a sudden, a mind reader of sorts. He is oh-so-certain that “conceit” and “wickedness” are the motivation behind David’s presence. Wrong, yet again!
The way David handled this badgering is perhaps just as telling of his heart and character as the way he defeated Goliath and successfully escaped the attempts on his life by Saul. David demonstrated the 1025 BC version of the 21st century way to dismiss a comment or an accusation by another person. This is oftentimes accomplished by uttering verbally or with one’s body language a heart-felt “Boy . . . Bye!” This phrase, which can also be directed at a girl as “Girl . . .bye!”, serves to send the message that someone has said or done something that was intended to aggravate, intimidate, and/or discourage, yet with this response, their opinion is rendered invalid.
That’s exactly what David did here. Verse 30 says, after his brothers’ badgering, “He turned way . . .”
David, in essence said, “boy . . . bye!”
“Ignoring his brother, [David] turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before” (MSG Translation). Next thing you know, “Saul sent for him” (1 Samuel 17:31).
You see, David did not let the badgering of his brother stop him from accomplishing his original purpose. David was more concerned about defending God’s honor than he was with proving a point to his jealousy-consumed brother. He could have given his brother a run-down of defensive rebutting points, but instead he practiced self-control and “turned away.” This was his way of dismissing and invalidating Eliab’s efforts to distract him with an effective demonstration of “boy . . .bye!” He was then able to successfully meet the challenge of the champion and escape the attempts to be killed by the king.
I doubt that many, if any, of us are strangers to the fruits of the jealousy of others. Being rejected or opposed by people from whom you had valid reason to expect support and assistance can hurt and distract us. The good news is David has demonstrated a great way for us to respond to such attacks: practice self-control and turn away. Choose to go on with your work. Do this in the face of enemies’ threats as well as in the face of friends’ insults and doubts.
When you are where your Father has told you to be, when you have been faithful over the “few,” when you know your motive is godly and pure—there is no need to get side-tracked by the ill-will of others. Keep writing. Keep speaking. Keep teaching. Keep studying. Keep applying. Keep asking. Keep living. Humbly practice self-control as you make David’s classic, and, dare I say, classy move: “turn away” sending the message that you are dismissing their comments, opinions, and accusations and going on with the work your Father has called you to do saying, “Boy . . . bye!”