I recently finished writing a 5 days devotion on Envy for my churn’s group study and reflection on King Saul and King David. Thought I will share them here.
Bob Sorge defines envy as “the pain or distress we feel over another’s success”. Underlying this is a selfish competition with others.
King Saul was a successful man being the first king of Israel. Physically he was a head taller than average and the most handsome of all (1 Sam 9:2). When the Spirit of God fell upon Saul he prophesized with the prophets. He had accompanying signs to affirm his call and position.
We see a domino effect in Saul’s life bringing him on a downward spiral. The first was his presumptuousness by offering a sacrifice in the absence of prophet Samuel. His role and responsibilities as king were clearly explained to the people in the presence of Saul (1 Sam 10:25), and that does not include offering sacrifices before God. Following which, the battle with the Amalek surfaced Saul’s disobedience to God’s specific instructions and resulted in his rejection by God. Before the appearance of David, Saul was slipping and he knew that it was a matter of time that God would have him replaced. Such fear and insecurity became the breeding ground for envy when David came into his life.
“When the men were returning home after David 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 timbrels 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.” – 1 Sam 18:6-9 (NIV)
This victory song triggered intense envy in Saul. There was no reason why King Saul should be envious; he was the king who held power over the nation and David was a mighty man under him. It was not unusual for kings to have generals who killed more enemies in the battlefield than the king. A wise king advances his kingdom with mighty and loyal generals. It seems petty that a simple refrain by women who were without social and political influence triggered Saul’s obsession with David’s death.
Imagine if Saul had intentionally jammed brake his spiral down by turning away from envy and repent before God, his end might be very different although there were still the consequences of sin. Perhaps David was supposed to be a channel of blessing for Saul instead of a threat that he perceived.
Saul fell in the the trap of envy because he lost sight of his calling and detiny. As followers of Jesus Christ, do we know our identity in Christ? If we do, the fear of another person(s) taking away our calling or blessing from God is groundless since the storehouse of heaven has more than enough for all of us. Let us find rest in this assurance of grace, and guard hearts to be quick to repent.
“Envy has the power to sabotage our own personal destiny in God because God cannot honor our efforts when they are subliminally driven by impure motives.” – Bob Sorge