What God Wants


When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB)

Ouch! I don’t suppose that it would have been much fun to be in Eliab’s shoes. As the new King David’s oldest brother, he was none too happy about his baby snot-faced brother being declared the next king of the nation. Eliab’s displeasure becomes more evident just prior to David’s epic defeat of the giant, Goliath.

Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 (NASB)

Eliab slammed his younger brother and we can only assume that it had something to do with the pain resulting from his own rejection as king. Clearly, there was something about the state of Eliab’s heart that displeased God.
I am reminded of another sibling story from long ago—that of Cain and Abel. Cain actually killed his younger brother Abel over an arguably lesser issue than Eliab had with David.

So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Genesis 4:3-5 (NASB)

We must note that God rejected the offering, but not Cain himself. The offering, however, served as a reflection of something that was wrong in Cain’s heart. I can almost picture him grumbling under his breath, “Gee, what do You want from me? I gave You an offering!”

We can’t be entirely sure, but I see two primary reasons why God would have rejected Cain’s offering:

1. Abel brought an offering from his firstlings—meaning that he gave God the very best of what He had. Cain, on the other hand, simply brought an offering–possibly leftovers of inferior quality.

2. Abel’s offering was a blood sacrifice—something painfully necessary to cover the stain of sin. Cain’s offering was from the crops he grew.

In essence, Cain’s offering was humanistic—he brought to God what he wanted to bring. Abel brought what God wanted. The difference is huge.

The shepherd boy, David, also understood something about sacrifices. According to the author of Hebrews, God is pleased by “a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

David went through extreme adversity in his life—things a called and anointed servant of God probably felt he never should have faced. David didn’t hesitate to share his pain and disappointment with God, but every bitter plea culminated in a “sacrifice of praise”.

Not only are worship, praise, and thanksgiving all expressions of faith in God’s impeccable character, they also help to lift us from the pit of miserable circumstances. It is what God wants and with such sacrifices He is well-pleased. Neither Cain, nor Eliab got it. I’m beginning to see the need for a thankful heart more clearly than ever before. How about you?