Wednesday, April 27, 2011
(David and Goliath)
I was recently reading I Samuel 18 and 19 in my quiet time. I was struck by the differing attitudes and actions of Saul and Jonathan toward David.
After David kills Goliath, he is thrust into palace life in Israel, serving King Saul in his court. As the crowds praise and recognize David and God grants continual success in whatever he does, Saul increasingly grows a blind hatred toward David.
I Samuel 18:6-9 explains the scene in detail: "As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.' And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, 'They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?' And Saul eyed David from that day on."
In jealousy, Saul assumes David's intentions incorrectly and, no matter how David spares Saul's life or honors him over and over, Saul refuses to see David as anything but a threat to the throne. He is jealous.
Jonathan, Saul's son, and would be successor to the throne, has quite a different reaction to David's success. It says his heart was knit to David's, and he became his friend. I Samuel 18:1 says, "As soon as he (David) had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." He says to his jealous father, "Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” I Samuel 19:4-5
Jonathan witnessed the continual success and popularity of David. How humbling that must be to the successor to the throne! However, Jonathan accepts God's will and extended blessing to David. He rejoices with his friend because he is ruled by love for David and trust in God's plan--a plan for the "great salvation of all Israel."
Saul, on the other hand, is tormented with insecurity, jealousy and hate. He is concerned only with his own ego and esteem. He spends much time pursuing David and trying to end David's life.
Wikipedia gives this definition, "Jealousy is a secondary emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection."
Dictionary.com adds that jealousy is "jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself."
Both of these definitions speak well to the feelings Saul had toward David in these passages.
So how do we apply the eternal truths of this scripture into our own lives?
We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to search our hearts and locate any seed of jealousy that has taken root.
This is a small example, but one day I was having a bad day. The kids were whining, I was moody and I was sinning in my attitude. I opened up Facebook to read status updates. It seemed as if EVERY person had gotten breakfast in bed, coffee or flowers from their husbands. Instead of rejoicing that God was being honored in marriages and friends were receiving love from their spouse, my sinful flesh bristled at the fact that I was not having the same experience that particular day (I have a fabulous, loving spouse, by the way. I was just a big, sinning mess that morning). I got off Facebook full of jealousy, which led to a whole list of other sins in my words and attitude. Yuck!
How about you? Can you identify moments of sinful jealousy?
If you blog, do you rejoice when another friend's craft is featured or given notice or do you first feel angry or resentful at their success? Are you jealous or discontent when you read blogs that are bigger or more popular than your own?
Christian friends, do you rejoice when a sister in Christ is given a speaking opportunity at church or put in charge of a ministry responsibility that you have always admired?
Single women, I was single much longer than I wanted to be before I met my husband. I remember the struggle of hearing another friend had gotten engaged while I waited for the right guy to come along. Do you have a similar struggle?
What is your reaction when you see someone eating anything they want and remaining skinny, while you are eating next to nothing every day and struggling to lose weight? How do you feel when you come across a friend who has more material blessings than you? How do you feel when a friend gets to stay home full time and you are forced to work to provide for your family?
We need to be honest. It is a struggle.
What is the answer? We need to have our esteem in Christ and not ourselves. We die to self when we become Christians. Christ tells us that whoever loses his life, gains it. As Christians, we recognize this life is temporal and made for us to do God's will, not our own. We are promised that we will receive our reward and recognition in Heaven. Right now, our importance and everything are placed on Christ and glorifying Him.
Despite whatever popularity, rank or success we get or have taken away, our faith in God's sovereignty and plan for our lives needs to rule our emotions. When we understand He is in control of every detail, we can be content enough to rejoice over the blessings of others. Like Paul, we can say we are content in any situation. (Philippians 4:12)
Finally, we need to allow our love for others to help us have a Philippians 2 attitude and consider others better than ourselves. Jonathan loved David more than himself, as evidenced by standing up for him against his father and by helping him to escape though he might possibly be king someday.
In Saul's life, as always, God's plan prevailed. Saul was killed and the kingdom was given to David. Saul spent his last years in vain--trying to protect his throne, hating David and pursuing personal glory.
Jealousy is pointless. It eats away at our happiness and contentment. God already has decided what blessings and advantage will go to each person, so fretting with resentment and bitterness is a waste of time.
Pray for contentment and repent of jealousy you can identify. Focus on your blessings and own advantages, always point to the amazing gift and grace of the cross, and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you pursue holiness in this area. Let's be women who follow the example of Jonathan, not Saul.
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Friday, April 15, 2011
Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.I was recently listening to an interview with Rebecca St James, and she was talking about meeting her soon to be husband, Jacob. The reporter asked her how she knew that he was "the one." She said he was godly. She was in prayer, the Word and seeking godly counsel, but she also said God confirmed the fact through the way Jacob CHERISHED her. She knew he was a strong man, and strong in the Lord, because he had the leadership and confidence to love her and treat her the way Jesus loves the church--sacrificial love/cherishing her.
Of course, I wondered if her husband would change. We all hear, and often experience, that our husbands cherish and adore us more easily in the courting months or years than in the years of marriage following. It shouldn't change with time, but both husbands and wives try harder when they are trying to win the approval and affection of the other person in the first couple of years. We are selfish, and it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit and the truths of God's Word in a redeemed person's heart that we can hope to cherish and obey the way we should in marriage.
Being in a marriage ministry, I hear many complaints from women about their spouse: "My husband doesn't lead like he should." "My husband doesn't give me compliments or do thoughtful things." "My husband doesn't spend time with me." "My husband works too much." "My husband leaves all the disciplining to me and wants to be the 'fun' dad." The list goes on. Most of these comments from wives rotate around the fact the husband does not cherish his wife as Christ does the church. The husband is being selfish or immature in some area, and he is not living up to his biblical role.
So how are we to respond? We know we are imperfect in our role as wives, just as our husbands are imperfect husbands. Yet we are still called to submit to our spouse as Christ submitted to God. What is Christ's example? Well, God crushed Christ on the cross for our sin, and Christ humbly allowed this (Isaiah 53:10). Are our husbands asking us to submit to anything that horribly painful and hard? I sincerely doubt it. True, Christ was submitting to a holy, perfect God, but we are called to submit to our imperfect spouse AS TO THE LORD. In other words, when we submit to our husband, we are also obeying and submitting to our perfect, holy, sovereign God. We can trust God's pefect commands and submit with confidence and thankfulness.
Therefore, we are to forgive and love our imperfect spouse and continue to pursue our role as a wife of righteousness. Despite what your husband is or isn't doing, meditate on what God has asked you to do as a wife and mother and wholeheartedly pursue this! The time you spend complaining about your spouse or resenting where he fell short could be better spent on prayer, scripture reading and serving. Have joy in the Lord despite the circumstances around you! You'll be surprised by how sometimes--not always, but sometimes, as we live in a fallen world-- a joyful and submissive wife results in a loving and cherishing husband, especially if you both are in Christ.
--When was the last time you read Bible verses telling you how to live in your role as a wife? Do you need a "checkup?"
--When was the last time you asked for forgiveness from your spouse? (without him doing it first)
--Have you recently been sinned against by your spouse and chosen to NOT tell anyone else? How did that bless the situation?
--When did you last purposefully encourage and thank your spouse for what he is doing correctly?
--Have you had a positive conversation with your spouse about what makes you feel cherished? (They can't read our minds . . .). On the flip side, have you asked your spouse what makes him feel respected and how you can better submit?
--If you are courting, are you, in a time when it is easiest, feeling cherished by the person you are with? Are you being wise in your relationship choice? Is this person leading according to scripture?
--How does Christ cherish and sacrificially love the church, and how, in scripture, did Christ submit to the headship of the Father?