1 Samuel 18: 5-9
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.’
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
It’s just after David has killed Goliath. You can only imagine the high he must be feeling. God has told him he’s going to be king and it all seems to be moving in that direction. He’s probably floating in the clouds.
David is also growing in popularity. People like him, he’s a leader that people want to follow. It seems like nothing could go wrong.
However David’s victory over Goliath has been turned into a song – it’s number one in the Israeli charts. It’s called: 'Saul’s good, but David’s even better.' And everyone has learned the words.
Saul and David are coming back from battle along the road, everyone is out cheering and clapping, and some of the women start getting the tambourines out and singing:
"Saul has killed thousands....." – Saul’s probably feeling really good at that point. Until he hears the next line: "....But David has killed tens of thousands."
And suddenly Saul’s not feeling so great anymore. The green eyed monster comes out. Look at what it says:
“Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him....And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”
Jealousy and envy seem like the same thing, but they’re actually a bit different.
Jealousy is fear of losing something – so we have a girlfriend and she’s talking to some other guy – and we get jealous because we’re afraid of losing her.
We have a best friend who we phone all the time and have coffee with. But now they have made a new friend and we get jealous because we don’t want to share their friendship with another.
Some mums even get jealous when their son brings home a girlfriend – mum wants to be the only woman in his life – not be replaced by some wee girl named Kelly Ann from Craigavon or Sinead from Crumlin!
Envy on the other hand is when we want something that we don’t have.
Our neighbour gets a new 5 series BMW and we eye it up and wish it was ours.
Our best friend gets engaged after only just meeting the man and you’re envious because you’ve been with your boyfriend for 5 years and still no sign of a ring.
That person in work gets a promotion and you’re envious because you think it should have been yours.
The root of both jealousy and envy is the same – it’s COMPARISON. It’s me comparing what I have with what they have. It’s about me feeling that I have been short changed, I have been hard done by, that they have something that should be mine or that I would like to be mine.
The simple reality is that at times we are all going to feel jealous and envious of other people – that’s just life. It’s an emotion that often we don’t have a lot of control over. It often hits us from nowhere. And at times we don’t even realise what exactly the emotion is. We just hear or see something and we feel this emotion inside us and we can’t even name what it is. Maybe we just don’t like someone and we can’t say why, but if we were to really think about it, the root of it is jealousy and envy.
Let me give an honest example from my own life. I get promotional material about a conference coming up in another church and I see that one of my friends who went through Theological College with me is the main speaker. I feel this twinge inside me and for just a minute there’s this thought: 'How come they’re speaking and not me? How come they were asked and I wasn’t?'
Or my friend got a new black Mercedes convertible not long ago and I looked at it and thought: 'I work just as hard as him, why can’t I have one of those?'
We tend to be jealous and envious of people who are closest to us or who are most like us. Saul and David both did very similar things – they went to battle and killed people.
I remember years ago sitting in a prayer meeting and listening to a prayer that went like this: "Thank you Lord for such a great sermon on Sunday, not yesterday when Craig preached, but the Sunday before that...." Seriously!!!???
We tend to be jealous of those who are most like us. In 1 Sam 18 Saul experiences strong emotions of both jealousy and envy because David and he both did similar things, David just did it a bit better.
Saul had both jealousy and anger at work in his life here. Saul’s Jealousy was his fear of losing what he already had – his power and his reputation as Israel’s mighty warrior king. He was the one who was the hero before this and he didn’t want to lose this status.
Saul’s ENVY was that he wanted what David had. He wanted the praise, the popularity, he wanted to be respected and loved by everyone the way David was.
Just as a side note here – something that occurred to me as I studied this. Why was David getting all this praise and not Saul? Because David had killed Goliath and Saul hadn’t. Saul should have been the one to fight, but wouldn’t. David does what Saul wouldn’t do and so get’s the rewards of what he has done.
The point is simply this: Don’t expect to get what other people have, unless you’re willing to do what other people have done.
Often when we feel envy and jealousy - we want what someone else has – but we’re not willing to put in the work and sacrifice that they have put in to get it.
So we look at the person with the new car and feel envious but perhaps it’s because they work 50 hours a week and you haven't worked 50 hours in your whole life.
Or maybe you see someone going on a foreign holiday and you are envious because you want a holiday. But what you don’t take into account is that they have saved for the past 6 months – whereas you have spent every penny on clothes.
Often we want what other people have, but we won’t do what they have done to get it.
That was just an aside.
Getting back, my point is this: Those initial emotions of envy and jealousy, often I don’t have a lot of control over. They are almost instinctive. I hear something, I see something – and I just feel the emotion come over me. That’s OK, I'm human.
It’s what I then do with those emotions which is the important bit.
Do I just let them go, or do I let them fester into something bigger and more destructive?
As we will see with Saul, he couldn't let those emotions go and they ended up driving him pretty much insane.
When we are confident in who God made us to be, we stop comparing ourselves to other people and focus on what God is doing in our own lives. Instead of letting Satan use jealousy against us the way Saul did, let’s submit our anger and envy to the Lord and watch Him take the burden from us.
(Folks, I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be taking a break from writing these daily devotions in July and August. While I am constantly encouraged by your feedback, keeping up with them is demanding and I do need a break over the summer months. Thanks so much for taking time to read them each day. These will run until Friday this week and hopefully resume again in September. Keep an eye on http://jesuscentred.life/talks for updated sermons throughout the summer. Every blessing, Craig)