Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Women in the Word Wednesday: Jealousy
(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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