Conquering Our Own Passions

Our vision is blurred when we allow our emotions to direct our action. 


1 Samuel 17:28-30

His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.


David is sent by his father to take provisions to his brothers who have joined the army to fight against the Philistines. Upon reaching the front he observes the actions of Goliath and the way that he is taunting God’s people. David begins to ask questions and this annoys his oldest brother, Eliab. Seeing his little brother as a bother, he peppers him with questions, while at the same time demeaning him. Who was David, but the little brother who watches a “few sheep in the wilderness.” 

What’s interesting is that David noticed something significant in that moment, and it was that the presence of God seemed to be lacking among the Israelite soldiers. They bore the rituals of being God’s people, but it was the little shepherd boy, accustomed to being alone in the wilderness who had learned to hear the voice of God. There, in his solitude, God had become his protector and guide; he recognized the voice and leading of God and trusted in the LORD’s protection. 

Maybe his brother was more irritated that the little brother was asking questions about the battle, rather than serving the rest of them. We don’t know all of the reasons but history has recorded this exchange between the two boys. It’s obvious that there is tension between the two. David’s response sounds like that of a little brother, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” One can only imagine that this was prefaced by a deep sigh. However, it’s David’s response after this exchange that gives us pause. Instead of allowing his passions and frustration with his brother to get the better of him, David calmly turns away and continues to ask questions. Only in this way was he able to ultimately fulfill that which God was leading him to do. 


There are some who suggest that the brother’s taunting of David, chiding him for the leaving of his sheep, is just a precursor of the coming Messiah. Jesus would be ridiculed by the religious authorities for his passion to leave the ninety-nine and go after the one lost sheep. David was willing to leave the sheep and come to save, what would ultimately be God’s people. And yet, he was sorely misunderstood for his actions. 

David was misunderstood because the crowd didn’t know how to recognize, or listen to the voice of God. Conquering his passions, or response to his big brother, was done by David because of his ability to be directed by God on high. 

There are plenty of confrontations to be held these days, but there is something to be learned from David’s response. The mission to which we are called is of far greater importance than spending time in lengthy arguments. Taking the time to defend himself and argue with his brother would have distracted David from the mission to which God was leading him. Instead, he conquered his passion. I imagine he took a deep breath, but then he went right back to assessing the overall situation. 

We all know the end of the story! He was able to slay the giant and God’s people were saved. Eventually he became king, and from his lineage would come the Messiah. How many stories are there that never made it to the history books because they ended up by someone succumbing to their emotions? If David had fought with Eliab, it would have been the end of the story. 

What David teaches us is that he knew how to recognize the voice of God and stay focused on his mission. Maybe it’s time to unplug so that we can hear the voice of God again! Yesterday I watched a Ted Talk from Cal Newport titled, “Why You Should Quit Social Media.” Honestly, it challenged me. Facebook and other media are distractions from our relationship with God. What about the constant use of headphones? On-going noise can make it impossible to learn to recognize the voice of God. The end result is that we become influenced by the culture and we don’t leave space or time for deep engagement with our Lord. When we live this way we will be prone to outbursts and responses that are not deep or reflective. 

Only by knowing Christ can we conquer our own passions. Our lives should be directed by our daily embrace of the One who understands our world far better than we do. Take a deep breath, and let’s move on to the mission of God. 


Lord, please help me to listen to you and follow your direction. Give me patience with all those whom you place into my life and pathway. May the love of Christ overflow in all that we do. Amen. 


  1. Thank you... I will feed on this over and over, I think.


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