A Tale of Jealousy

David, as pictured by two different people: Jonathan and Saul.

1 Samuel 18:1-16

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

When the men were returning home after David had 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.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.

Cross, Jesus, Daily Devotion, Holy Spirit, God, Jealousy

Here we get two very different reactions to David – one of love and one of hate. Because everybody adores David, Saul becomes bitter and is even willing to murder over it.

Tales of jealousy go all the way back to Genesis. God favours Abel, so Cain kills him. Isaac favours Esau, so Jacob steals his inheritance. Jacob favours Joseph, and Joseph’s brothers sell him as a slave.

So it’s interesting that in this story, it’s David who comes out on top. Twice, actually! (Really, Saul should have known better than to attack David with a spear, the same weapon that Goliath used.) And David continues to prove himself the better man over Saul, until he finally takes his place as king. It’s just one thing that shows he is the most remarkable of God’s champions – at least so far.

Even Jonathan – who, as Saul’s son, would have been next in line as king – acknowledges it. He gives David his own robe, sword and bow. Effectively, giving David his claim to the throne.

There’s another tale of jealousy in the gospel. As Jesus preaches and performs miracles and gains more and more attention, the Pharisees and other teachers plot to kill him.

Head: How does Jesus bring an end to the tales of jealousy that start in Genesis?

Heart: Do you relate more to Jonathan’s love for David, or Saul’s hatred?

Hands: Can you think of someone loving you as themselves? Or have you ever loved someone else as yourself?

Prayer: Lord, help us learn from David’s story. Remind us in our hearts how destructive Saul’s jealousy and anger is, and how uplifting and freeing Jonathan’s love is. Guide and protect our hearts, so that we can follow Jesus instead of falling victim to evil thoughts. Amen.

A song to listen to: Only a Holy God

Zoe Harland