A Devotional

Falling for Eliab

Katie Millen Katie Millen

When most Christian women envision their future husbands, they see all sorts of different, wonderful qualities. Even women in the world look for certain attributes in a man. Is he good-looking, does he have a college degree, make good money, treat women with respect, not drink too much? That is attractive to many a girl wanting a “good” guy.

For ladies who have spent their childhood, teen years, and now moving on to adulthood, waiting for the man God is preparing – they too envision quite a stunning specimen of a human being called, “my future husband.” As girls, we write down our “future husband wish list,” (as if we are innocently and excitedly asking Santa Claus for the gift we’ve always wanted.) As teenagers, many of us have seen relationships form between the boys and girls at youth group and in school. Though there’s the ache to know what it feels like to have a boyfriend too, we console ourselves with the knowledge that our future husband will be “worth the wait.” As adults, we attend close friends’ and relatives’ weddings, all the while picturing the day when it will be our turn to wear the beautiful white gown and unite with the man of our dreams.

As Christian women we want above all else, the man we marry to be spiritually strong and fit. And if you’re a “diamond in the rough,” you want a man who is equally rare: different from even the average, church-going, Bible-speaking man.

While there is nothing wrong with looking for certain attributes and qualities desired in a husband, I have noticed over the past few years a danger: how easy it is to fall for the Christian man who appears a “cut above the rest.”

As Christian women we want above all else, the man we marry to be spiritually strong and fit. And if you’re a “diamond in the rough,” you want a man who is equally rare: different from even the average, church-going, Bible-speaking man. A friend told me a few years ago, “Katie, you’re not waiting for a man. You’re waiting for Jesus in jeans!” And this is how it would seem.

Sold out women are attracted to sold out men. They want someone they can be equally yoked with. They are drawn to a man who knows the Word of God and can exhort others when needed. Women of conviction are not attracted to wishy washy men, lacking in fire and spiritual back-bone. To walk into a room where a man is lifting his hands, and praying the house down in tongues – that sends chills up a zealous girl’s spine. But as well intentioned as this kind of girl is, she can easily fall for that guy who only appears to be a “cut above the rest” – a spiritual “Eliab.”

Who is this Eliab?

Eliab was the son of Jesse, and oldest brother to David. Let me paint a visual picture of how I’ve always envisioned Eliab.

This dude is a hunk. He’s an Old Testament Tim Tebow (Disclaimer: this is not a bash on Tim Tebow by any means.) Being the oldest, he has wisdom and authority over his brothers. He has position in his father’s house. He is depended upon. He is a leader.

Now lets talk about Samuel.

Samuel was the great prophet and judge over the nation of Israel. Of equal importance, Samuel proved from a very early age, that he could hear and obey the voice of God.

“And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

Israel was in need of a new king after Saul disobeyed Gods’s commands and, as a result, was dethroned. God said to Samuel,

“…Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.” (I Samuel 16:1)

God had a specific person in mind to be king over Israel. Samuel had a general idea of what the king should look like. As soon as the sons of Jesse lined up for Samuel’s inspection, he immediately noticed Eliab. (Who, in their right mind wouldn’t?) This man who was head and shoulders above his “little” brothers certainly seemed to fit the template!

“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.” (1 Samuel 16:6)

Like all of us, Samuel judges by the seeing of the eye. Naturally, this is what we do when we are considering a possible guy. It is easy to think, “Surely this is God’s anointed!” when a man has all of the outward spiritual “trappings.” At least outwardly, to our eyes, our Eliab appears to have everything we envisioned our man to possess: he also is a cut above the rest. But do we really see all that God alone sees?

While others are busy doing something for God, could it be that there are men who are more concerned about being someone for God?

A spiritual Eliab is indeed, “head and shoulders” over his brothers. He’s the man godly girls are attracted to at first glance. And this is mostly because we equate godliness with service. The man who appears to be most zealous, most passionate and deemed most “spiritual” is usually the one who can say all the right things, do all the right things, and read all the right books by spiritual giants. Eliabs are attractive because they look spiritually fit.

But what about the man who doesn’t look like a spiritual hunk? He doesn’t speak well or get recognition from the church. He’s never been on an overseas mission trip and will never have a book published about his great escapades for God. While others are busy doing something for God, could it be that there are men who are more concerned about being someone for God? He is passing tests in his heart that only the eyes of God can see and appreciate. He is overcoming challenges and trials in the secret places of his life. He is honest about his shortcomings and can share his struggles. Too many men are preaching, leading, and serving while their conscience and relationship with God are in shambles. While it’s true they may be doing quite well in many areas of service – like the young rich ruler, they “lack” one thing. And that is a true, surrendered life.

Service to God is wonderful, but only if it is out of a pure, obedient heart, not from a heart that is covering up some secret sin or habit by doing this and that for God.

Like Eliab, Saul’s outward appearance caused him to “stand out.” He was literally “head and shoulders” above those around him. Yet, when given the chance to obey the Lord he came up short. In finding Himself a new king, God was looking for one who would offer Him obedience, not sacrifice. He certainly did not want a repeat of Saul.

Remember why Israel was in need of a new king: Saul had disobeyed God’s command to completely wipe out the Amalekites. Not one person or animal was to remain. Instead, Saul only “partially” obeyed, killing everything but the the best of the sheep, oxen and things belonging to the Amalekites. He offered them as burnt sacrifices to God, as opposed to simply obeying Him. But the prophet Samuel says to Saul,

“Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

God looks for a surrendered heart – not acts of service, Biblical-knowledge, and fiery speeches. If spiritual muscles was what mattered to God, He never would have dethroned Saul. He was disqualified from remaining king because of his failure to obey every last word of the Lord. Even when Saul tried to “smooth things over” with God by offering burnt sacrifices, God rejected it and said, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Doesn’t that tell us something about what matters to God? Service to God is wonderful, but only if it is out of a pure, obedient heart, not from a heart that is covering up some secret sin or habit by doing this and that for God.

True passion and anointing flows from the heart that doesn’t just know about God, but intimately knows God Himself.

Now back to Samuel. Because God had his ear, He was able to correct him and tell him what He alone knew. Right as the prophet was about to lift the flask of anointing oil upon Eliab’s head, God stopped him.

“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 16:7)

Aren’t you so glad that God sees what the eyes of man cannot?

“He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” (Isaiah 11:3)

A man like David understands that the best training ground for ministry is in the present set of tests and circumstances God’s given him. How he pasts tests will determine how well he can truly serve God.

True passion and anointing flows from the heart that doesn’t just know about God, but intimately knows God Himself. He knows the voice of His shepherd. If God says “go,” he runs. If God says “stay,” he won’t move a muscle. He is a slave to God. Not to make himself look spiritual, but because he is addicted to making God smile. Secret obedience is better than open service; open service should be the result of secret obedience.

This is a David. Though he was unnoticed, overlooked, ruddy to look at and probably unappreciated, God saw a heart that loved Him. And when faced with different “smaller” tests, he passed them. Counting David faithful, God chose him to be king.

Secret obedience is better than open service; open service should be the result of secret obedience.

When spotting a godly guy, the first reaction of a godly girl is to get pretty excited. It is so refreshing to see a man with passion for God! But first, ask yourself this: am I being encouraged by seeing excitement for God, or commitment to God?

Anyone can be excited when they first enter into a new season. It’s the “honeymoon phase” we go through that makes everything look and feel heavenly. May I take the liberty of saying that there are plenty of young men (and women) who are still on a honeymoon with Jesus? Relationship with the Lord is exciting and they’re enjoying the new union. The days of real adversity have not yet come, feelings are fiery and attraction is still fresh. But will that same love, commitment and faithfulness to Him still be there in 10 years, when the honeymoon period is over? Will it not just be an infatuation with Him, but a true covenant relationship that actually grows stronger when trials and temptations come?

This is what God wants to know. Will you still love Me, serve me and bless Me, even when it gets tough? Excitement is important, but it is not enough to sustain a man through the fire. Unless he takes hold of every resource that is in Christ Jesus to overcome, he will go through the fire and come out scorched. Excitement will be but a charred memory of what he used to be. Excitement, passion and service for the Lord shouldn’t be a phase. For the man who has walked with God, excitement for Him will be natural, passion will be genuine and serving Him will be an addiction. It won’t be dependent upon circumstances being perfect or pleasant. This kind of love, full-hearted obedience and faithfulness to the Lord will be what turns a normal man into a man of God, and a shepherd boy into a king.

God was not looking for perfection in a king- or else He would have picked a perfect Eliab. He is looking for the direction of a man’s life, revealed by his present walk of obedience. God is not looking for spiritual muscles but a heart after Him.

If you are a woman who really wants God’s best, God Himself will be your matchmaker. It may feel like you’re all alone in a world full of Jesse’s sons. They’re good men, but just aren’t the man you’re holding out for. As each “son of Jesse” passes by, your heart grows weary of saying, “He’s not the one.” But you must remember the promise:

“… The LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people…” ( 1 Samuel 13:14)

He has His eyes on someone for you! While others pass by, your David may still be tending sheep, writing psalms, fighting off bears and wolves, and preparing for his one day role as leader. It takes time to prepare a king. Do not become weary of waiting and praying for him. Maybe you’re wanting a man right now to be ready to face and kill Goliath. But he’s still preparing, still learning how to overcome the smaller beasts in his life. Allow him time to be tested, proven and made stronger. Give God time to perfect the work of His hands, knowing that He makes all things beautiful in His time. And remember, God was not looking for perfection in a king- or else He would have picked a perfect Eliab. He is looking for the direction of a man’s life, revealed by his present walk of obedience. God is not looking for spiritual muscles but a heart after Him.

Ladies, do not fall for the Eliab who looks the part but is not the one God has His eye on. Be like the prophet who asked Jesse, “Are these all your sons? Isn’t there one left?” Samuel let go of his “template” for what he thought a king should look like, and instead chose to see what God sees: the heart.

Just as we judge by what our eyes can see, we judge by what our eyes cannot see. How many times have you been tempted to say, “There are no godly men out there!” Perhaps according to your limited view. But again, be glad that God sees what you don’t! He saw the David when all the prophet saw was Jesse’s reject sons. But if you grow weary of asking, “Where is he, Lord?” and forget the promise of God – you just may say yes to the wrong man.

So many times, women lift the flask of oil and pour out their life upon the head of an Eliab… and David was just around the corner.

Do not settle because the wait is getting long and the pickings are meager. Hold on to God’s promise that there is a man- though he’s hidden from your view right now – who is being tested and proven. And remember before Samuel found David, he had to go through 7 brothers first! You haven’t missed God if you have considered someone before your David appeared. What is important is that you heard God’s voice when He said, “This is not the man,” obeyed and moved on.

Eliabs are much easier to fall for, while Davids are often hidden away in obscurity, tending “sheep.” So many times, women lift the flask of oil and pour out their life upon the head of an Eliab… and David was just around the corner. Do not become hasty, do not become weary, do not be captivated by the outward – physically or spiritually. Listen for His voice, wait on His instructions, heed the warnings of others. In due time, God will bring you a David worth waiting for.


Katie is a wife and mother of three children, residing in New York City. She enjoys any moment she can get writing about the things God is teaching her about motherhood and special needs parenting.