Old Testament passage for Thursday, May 16, 2013: I Samuel 18:5-19:24
7 So the women sang as they danced, and said:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”
And David his ten thousands.”
8 Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 So Saul eyed David from that day forward. 10 And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice. I Samuel 18:7-11 (NKJV)
It was William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, who said, "The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves." Nowhere is that clearer than in the case of King Saul.
He heard the maidens sing, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." (I Sam. 18:7) It threw him into a jealous rage. His insecurities began firing overtime. As a result, he set a trajectory that would dominate him throughout his lifetime. He made life tough for David. But life became even tougher for himself. The Bible says that a "distressing spirit" came upon Saul (I Sam. 18:10). Throughout ongoing years, this black dog of depression would continually unsettle him. Its base was an insecure, jealous, envious spirit. Even while he was the mightiest man in Israel with the world at his feet, he brooded about what he did NOT have.
Jealousy kills. Much has been written about the difference between envy and jealousy. They are twin vices -- two sides of the same coin. Jealousy feels that someone else is taking away that which is mine. Envy feels that someone has favor that I deserve. Both kill a person on the inside. They rob us of joy and fill us with anger or depression. Many a marriage has been destroyed under the crushing weight of jealousy. The most gifted man or woman can be strung out into ineffectiveness by the grinding obsession of envy.
Shakespeare called envy "the green sickness". Bacon said that "it has no holiday." The ancient Greek philosopher Horace said of covetousness and envy, "tyrants never invented a greater torment." In Dante's Inferno, the envious are depicted as blind beggars sitting by a wall -- their eyelids sewn shut.
Scripture says that "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." (Prov. 14:30) It gnaws at our insides and "slays the simple one." (Job 5:2) Solomon said of jealousy it is "as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame." (Song of Solomon 8:6)
Saul could not handle his anger and jealousy toward David. He could only suppress if for a while until it came roaring back on him again. It was to this inner struggle that Jesus spoke so eloquently in the Sermon on the Mount. He speaks to us about overcoming the anger that rises in our hearts and lashes out at those who take from us. He speaks of going the second mile (Matt. 5:42). He speaks about blessing those who speak evil of you -- about loving your enemies (Matt. 5:44). Jesus aims his words directly at our envy when he says that we are to know how much our Father loves us and will take care of us (Matt. 6:25-33). It is by the power of the Holy Spirit and the endwelling Christ, that the power of jealousy can be broken.
There are few things as base as a rich man filled with jealousy. It is the picture of selfishness. There is nothing more beautiful as a man or woman who fully know their worth before God and who are able to say "He is my sufficiency!" (II Co. 3:5) Such are those who bring greatest glory to God and who live the fullest life here on earth.