Monday, July 25, 2011

1 Samuel 18 & 19 - The Rise of Saul's Wrath

LINK: I Samuel 18 & 19


BACKGROUND


The stage is set. David had been anointed as the future King of Israel, but he would have to wait fifteen years before he would be crowned. In the meantime, God had a training program uniquely made for David.


The honeymoon between Saul and David was over. David's star was on the rise, and Saul began to become jealous. In addition, Saul's own son, Jonathan, made a covenant with David. We have seen covenant occur several times in the Old Testament. It helps to know more about the Hebrew word for covenant:
בְּרִת(bĕrit) covenant; between nations: a treaty, alliance of friendship; between individuals: a pledge or agreement; with obligation between a monarch and subjects: a constitution; between God and man: a covenant accompanied by signs, sacrifices, and a solemn oath that sealed the relationship with promises of blessing for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking it .
(Harris, R. Laird ; Harris, Robert Laird ; Archer, Gleason Leonard ; Waltke, Bruce K.: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed. Chicago : Moody Press, 1999, c1980, S. 128)
Part of Jonathan's "signs and sacrifices" included stripping himself of his royal regalia as a recognition of David's future reign as king. What an ultimate sacrifice because Jonathan was meant to be the future king (20:30-31; 23:17).


As the story goes on, David slayed ten thousand compared to Saul's thousand. Then, even Saul's daughter, Micah, "loved David." David "had it all," and Saul felt the full range of emotions: anger, displeasure, hatred, fear, anxiety, and jealousy.


These emotions led down the slippery slope toward intentions to murder David, but Jonathan stayed true to his covenant with David and intervened on his behalf. Next, Micah (now David's wife) protected David from Saul's murderous wrath. Finally, the Spirit of God fell on every man sent to capture David, even Saul himself! They "fell into a trance or an ecstatic state, a condition which immobilized them and made them incapable of accomplishing their evil intentions" (Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:450).


REFLECTION


In these chapters, we see two different responses to another person's success:
1) Jonathan could have become jealous of David's popularity. Instead he "loved" David and made a covenant with him, even acknowledging symbolically, by giving David his royal regalia, that David would someday be the King of Israel, a position in which Jonathan was next in line! 
2) Saul did become jealous of David's popularity and could not see God's plan. He had been rejected as king but he held on to that positon to the point where he would even want to kill David in order to maintain his power. How very sad.


I want to have a heart like Jonathan, who rejoices in other people's successes.


APPLICATION


Wise words from the Life Application Bible:
Jealousy may not seem to be a major sin, but in reality, it is one step short of murder. Jealousy starts as you resent a rival; it leads to you wishing he or she were removed; then it manifests itself in your seeking ways to harm that person in word or action. Beware of letting jealousy get a foothold in your life. (p. 468)
Is jealousy seeping into your life? Examine your heart and talk to God about it.

Jealousy can lead to bitterness. Read this excerpt from Many Aspire, Few Attain:

10. Avoid the root of bitterness

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15).

The tenth reason many will never finish the battle is a bad attitude from envy, jealousy and bitterness - a lack of forgiveness. A bitter spirit, a spirit of resentment, poisons not only to you, but others. 
A root of bitterness is the result of real or supposed ill-treatment - it doesn’t matter which one. You can get just as bitter thinking people treated you badly as when they actually do. Feeling hurt and sorry for yourself are bedfellows of bitterness. Self pity is the other side of the coin of bitterness. Have you ever felt sorry for yourself? Have you ever felt hurt over the way people have treated you? Then you are bordering on bitterness.

George Washington Carver once said, “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.” Those are profound words. When you hate, you destroy yourself.

If God is God (and He is), then no one can hurt you. No one. That simply means that anytime you are angry with another person, it’s not really the other person that you’re mad at - it’s God. God is the one who allowed that to happen to you. He brought it into your life for a purpose. Whenever circumstances don’t go the way you would like, and you become angry and resentful and bitterness begins to creep into your heart, remember your complaint is always with God, never with anyone else. There is no such thing as having a problem with another person. It doesn’t exist. And bitterness will destroy you if you let it. 
The lack of forgiveness is also inconsistent with a relationship with God. Again and again Jesus cautions us that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us.

PRAYER


Lord, reveal to us places that we may be resenting the rise in popularity of someone else and seeing them as a rival rather than making a covenant of friendship with them. Help us to rejoice in other people's successes and to acknowledge and look for Your plan in their lives rather than resenting them. Give us a heart like Jonathan toward others. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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