1 Samuel 17:28
And Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why came you down here? and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride, and the naughtiness of your heart; for you are come down that you might see the battle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David.—There were probably many years between the ages of the eldest and youngest of these eight brothers, and this jealous anger was, no doubt, no new thing in Eliab. The casual mention (1Samuel 17:34) of the boy’s prowess, when the lion and the bear attacked his father’s flock, tells us that the boyhood and youth of David had been no ordinary one, and Eliab’s jealous disposition had been, doubtless, often aroused. Probably, too, the envious elder brother well remembered the visit of the great seer to Bethlehem, and how Samuel had, for some mysterious, and as yet unknown, reason, anointed this young brother of his, and had chosen him to be his pupil and companion. Was he now come with power unknown to him (Eliab) to perform some startling deed of daring?

1 Samuel 17:28. He said, Why camest thou down hither? — His passion made him forget that David came by his father’s order, in obedience to him, and out of kindness to them. With whom hast thou left those few sheep? — Thus he intimates that David was fitter to look after sheep than to fight a giant. I know thy pride — Thy false confidence, vain glory, and curiosity. See the folly and wickedness of envy! How groundless its jealousies are, how unjust its censures, how unfair its representations! May God save and preserve us from such a spirit! 17:12-30 Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army at that critical juncture; but the wise God orders actions and affairs, so as to serve his designs. In times of general formality and lukewarmness, every degree of zeal which implies readiness to go further, or to venture more in the cause of God than others, will be blamed as pride and ambition, and by none more than by near relations, like Eliab, or negligent superiors. It was a trial of David's meekness, patience, and constancy. He had right and reason on his side, and did not render railing for railing; with a soft answer he turned away his brother's wrath. This conquest of his own passion was more honourable than that of Goliath. Those who undertake great and public services, must not think it strange if they are spoken ill of, and opposed by those from whom they expect support and assistance. They must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of enemies' threats, but of friends' slights and suspicions.Why camest thou down? - From the heights of Bethlehem to the valley of Elah.

Thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart - See the similar expression, Jeremiah 49. Compare the envy of Jacob's sons toward Joseph, and of the slanders heaped upon the Son of David in the days of His flesh.

25. make his father's house free in Israel—His family should be exempted from the impositions and services to which the general body of the Israelites were subjected. Eliab’s anger was kindled, either because he thought him guilty of intolerable folly, and pride, and presumption, in pretending to such an attempt; or because he feared and concluded he would be certainly ruined in the enterprise; or rather, because he envied him the glory of so great an undertaking; and took this proffer of David’s to be, what indeed it was, a reproach to himself, and to all the rest, that having the great God on their side, had not the faith or courage to fight with him.

With whom hast thou left those few sheep? thou art much fitter to tend sheep, than to appear in an army, or to fight with a giant.

Thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; thy self-confidence, and vain-glory, and curiosity. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men,.... Heard the questions he put to them, by which he perceived his inclination:

and Eliab's anger was kindled against David; because what he had said carried in it a tacit reproach of him, and others, that they had not the courage, and did not attempt to encounter with the Philistine; or the displeasure he expressed was either out of affection to him, fearing, or being assured almost he would perish in the enterprise; or rather out of envy to him, lest succeeding in so bold an action, he should gain superior glory to him, and the rest of his brethren, who yet was the youngest of them:

and he said, why comest thou down hither? for though David had talked with his brethren, or had begun to talk with them, yet he had not sufficiently explained the reasons of his coming:

and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? the wilderness of Judea, or some wilderness near Bethlehem; by this he would not only insinuate a charge of unfaithfulness, in not taking care of his father's flock committed to him; but his view was to make him look little and mean in the eyes of the people, that in the family he belonged to he was thought to be fit for nothing but to keep sheep, and those but a small flock, and in doing this was negligent and careless:

I know thy pride, and the haughtiness of thine heart; that he was too proud to keep sheep, and wanted to advance himself in the army, and make a figure there, and thereby gratify his vanity and ambition, which was the reverse of David's character; for, such was his humility, that, though he was anointed king, and had been preferred in Saul's court, yet condescended with all readiness to keep his father's sheep; and what he now proposed was not from any bad principle in his heart, but purely for the glory of God, and the honour of the people of Israel, who were both reproached:

for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle: out of curiosity, and to take every advantage and opportunity of signalizing and making himself famous.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. the wilderness] The Heb. word for “wilderness” does not necessarily mean a barren district; but a wide open tract used for pasture, as distinguished from arable land. Cp. Psalm 65:12; Joel 1:19-20; Joel 2:22.

naughtiness] i.e. wickedness. David’s advancement seems to have roused Eliab’s jealousy. He imputes the worst motives to him and taunts him with (1) neglect of duty; (2) arrogance and discontent with his humble occupation; (3) unseemly eagerness for the sight of bloodshed. Eliab was unable to enter into the nature of David’s lofty indignation. Compare the hatred of Joseph’s brethren (Genesis 37:4).Verses 28, 29. - Eliab's anger was kindled against David. As David, with growing indignation at an uncovenanted heathen thus dishonouring the subjects of the living God, puts eager questions to all around, his ehier brother angrily reproaches him with words full of contempt. Between the eldest and youngest of eight sons was a vast interval, and Eliab regards David's talk as mere pride, or, rather, "presumption," "impertinence;" and also as naughtiness, or badness, of heart, probably because he imagined that David's object was to provoke some one else to fight, that he might see the battle. David's answer is gentle and forbearing, but the last words are difficult. Is there not a cause? Have not those whom we are ready to condemn a reason and justification for their conduct? Such a question put to ourselves might stop much slander and fault finding. But the Hebrew literally has, Is it not word? And the ancient versions and the best modern commentators understand by this, "It was but a mere word;" "I was only talking about this challenge, and was doing no wrong. David left the vessels with the provisions in the charge of the keeper of the vessels, and ran into the ranks to inquire as to the health of his brethren.
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