It’s very painful to be misjudged by others, especially if they’re close to us, such as family members or Christian brothers and sisters. I can remember a few times in the past when even members of my own family made comments such as “We know you”, and then proceeded to recount some past behaviour of mine from many years earlier. Their recollection of how I’d behaved in the past didn’t seem to allow for any change or growth in me, all those years later.
In our verses for today, Eliab, David’s oldest brother, was probably still carrying the pain and humiliation of being rejected by God as the next king of Israel, when Samuel the prophet came to his father Jesse. Instead, David, the youngest son, not even invited to the selection meal, was called from the fields and anointed with oil as God’s chosen successor to Saul.
Even apart from Eliab’s likely jealousy of David, perhaps we’re seeing the reality of how those who’re closest to us can actually not know us very well at all. God even had to correct Samuel, ‘People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:17). Eliab wasn’t seeing David’s heart when he accused him of leaving the sheep he was supposed to be caring for. David was actually there that day on the instructions of his father Jesse to bring Eliab, and the other brothers, food. The truth was that it was David’s faithfulness, integrity and skill as a shepherd, seen by God when he was out in the hills, that prepared him to be a future shepherd and king to Israel.
Perhaps, as Christians, we can learn from this not to judge others by how we perceive them, or, even, how they once were. I want others to see the potential for growth and change in my life, and I need to give that same grace and room to those I know and meet. When we find ourselves misjudged by someone it’s probably another opportunity to learn and practise the lesson of forgiveness, although perhaps we might sometimes also want to graciously challenge the person misjudging us, as David did his brother Eliab.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes, when I feel misjudged, I want to say like David, “What have I done now!” Show me how to respond with grace if that happens and to always remember that You see the true motives of my heart. Amen.
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