I Samuel 18: 6-11
When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”
This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”
And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
The next day an evil spirit...came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, I'll pin David to the wall. But David eluded him twice.
Years ago I had been away for a few weeks and came home, got into my car for the first time and smelt the most disgusting smell. I thought: 'Did something die in the back there?' I know the inside of my car isn’t always the cleanest, but this smell was beyond anything normal or natural. I couldn’t understand where it was coming from.
I searched and eventually found the source. Before I had gone away I’d been out with friends and we had stopped to get some food in a take away. One of my friends in the back of the car had decided he only wanted to eat half of his chicken burger so had left the other half under the passenger seat in front of him. During the 2 weeks it was in the unattended car, the meat had decayed and decomposed and the smell was disgusting.
Jealousy and envy are a bit like that. In fact all negative emotions are. If dealt with or thrown out quickly there's no problem. But if we leave them inside us, if we don’t deal with them, they grow and fester and begin to stink out our lives with anger, resentment and bitterness.
So while we can’t necessarily control that initial emotion we feel when something happens – we can control what we then do with that emotion. We are responsible for what we do next.
Saul hears this song out in the streets about how great David is and he immediately in his gut feels jealousy and envy. That’s okay. He could at that stage have just thought about it and said: "You know what – David deserves that praise. He fought Goliath, I didn’t want to fight him. David stepping up got me out of a really difficult situation. So while that song bothers me, I’m just so thankful that David helped me out when I needed it. David, well done mate, great job." That would have been the right way to handle it.
However Saul had three fatal flaws: He was deeply insecure, he was a people pleaser and he was proud. And all of these 3 personality traits meant that when he heard David getting praise and saw David becoming successful, everything within him felt threatened. All of his deep insecurities came to the surface and he simply couldn’t control the emotions which grew from there. The jealous thoughts kept going round and round his head: 'I’m going to lose it all to David. They like him more than me. I want them to say those things about me. What about all that I have done over the years?'
He fed his mind on those thoughts and he kept going over it again and again in his head. And the jealousy gave way to fear and insecurity, and then paranoia and then anger and then rage and violence.
You are what you eat. Not just in terms of physical food, but emotionally and spiritually – you are what you eat. We know that in the physical realm – if we eat healthy food, we’re more likely to have a healthy body, we won’t get sick as much, we’ll feel better. If you live on chips, chocolate cake and fizzy drinks – it’s going to show in how you look and in how you feel.
It’s the same emotionally and spiritually. We become what we feed our minds on, we become what we think about. Like the occasional bag of crisps, one negative or jealous thought probably won’t do us too much harm. But if that’s all we allow our minds to feed on for any length of time, we’re going to have problems.
Something happens, someone says something or does something – it’s not that big – but we just keep feeding on it, we dwell on it, we keep coming back to it and attach more and more emotion to it – over time that negative emotion is going to grow and grow and then manifest itself in some way in our lives, it’s going to come to the surface in some destructive and damaging way. Damaging to us and damaging to other people. Why? Because we are what we eat – we become what we fed on.
When we continually feed our minds on sinful, negative thoughts, we are opening our lives for Satan to come and use those thoughts for his purposes – that is to steal, kill and destroy. If you like, those constant negative thoughts give Satan a landing strip in our lives, a place for him for attach himself to, so that he can do his damage. That’s what happened Saul – he opened himself up to an evil spirit through his fear and jealousy and envy and anger. Ephesians 4:26-27 says:
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Basically what it is saying is – deal with anger immediately, don’t let it grow or fester, or you will give the devil a place to grip onto your life.
The problem is that once we give the devil a foothold, he’s not content with that – he wants to turn that foothold into a stronghold. A stronghold is when we no longer control the emotion – it now controls us.
So you’re no longer someone who just gets angry sometimes – but you have actually become an angry person – you walk round with anger constantly inside you.
You no longer feel the emotion of jealousy now and again – but you are jealous of everyone. Every time someone gets something you feel that it’s only because that you are losing something. You are controlled by fear of not holding onto everything you have.
That’s what happened with Saul. He became so consumed with those emotions of jealousy and envy and anger that they began to control him and one day he is so overcome by them that he throws a spear at David and tries to kill him. What was once just inside him – has now comes to the surface in all sorts of destructive ways. And we see that over the next few chapters, he tries to kill David at least 5 times. In fact, for the rest of his life he was controlled by bitterness and anger and jealousy. Look at verse 29:
“Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy for the rest of his days.”
All of this came from one silly song about how many men they had both killed.
So how do we deal with these emotions like jealousy and envy – we’ve seen how Saul did it badly – what can we do to make sure we don’t destroy ourselves and our relationships. That's what we'll look at in tomorrow. But for now, if there is something festering inside you, bitterness, envy, jealousy or resentment, throw it out. Stop letting it stink out your life.