I have been reading in the book of 1 Samuel and as I reviewed the relationship between Saul and David, I quickly realized that some of the things that drew Saul to David at first were the very things that threatened Saul and caused him to despise David later. Pride turned a warrior into a weasel, reverence into resentment, utterly ruined a relationship and caused God’s blessing to be withheld from a man who began his reign by God’s call.
Do you remember when Saul first sent for David? Saul had a troubled spirit and David, as an accomplished musician, soothed the king’s heart. Saul later summoned David because of his courage. David was not fearful of Goliath and resented the fact that he defied the armies of God. When no one else would stand against the enemy, young David believed God would deliver this giant into his hand. The king then secured a place for David in the palace because of Jonathan’s affection toward him and as David went out and served the king, the people grew to admire him. What went wrong?
I found three things in 1 Samuel 18:6-16 which, I believe, caused Saul’s pride to get the best of him and drove this deep resentment toward his servant, David.
The first thing which caused this resentment was the popularity David had among the people (verses 6-11). It’s amazing that a song brought about Saul’s first interest in David. Here, in verse 7, as the women sang praises, not only to their king but to one of his commanders, David, they attributed more honour to the commander than to the king. “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” This infuriated Saul and verse 9 says that from that day forward Saul eyed David. He began his watch, waiting for a chance to pounce and kill.
The next thing that caused this resentment was the presence of God in David’s life (verses 12-13). God’s hand upon David was evident and the fact that God’s power was missing in Saul’s life haunted him and made him jealous of David. Saul’s problems were coming back to haunt him. He had made an unlawful sacrifice to God because of his impatience. He was not willing to wait for Samuel, the man of God. Then, he made a rash oath and withheld food from his troops, the very thing they needed for energy to fight the enemy. He seemed to lack wisdom, judgement and forethought. He was disobedient to God when he spared King Agag and brought back the best of the land and then he set up a monument to himself and boasted in what he had accomplished. The sin of pride had begun to set in. Now, as he watched God work through David, the feelings of jealousy and resentment were beginning to control him.
The third thing which caused this resentment was the particular way in which David behaved (verses 14-16). Verses 14 and 15 say, “David behaved himself wisely in all his ways” and “he behaved himself very wisely.” Why on earth would it cause a king to be afraid when one of his commanders behaved wisely? It doesn’t make sense! But, a proud mind does not always put things in proper perspective. All Saul saw was that the people of Israel and Judah loved David and that became a threat to his ego.
I am surrounded by great men; men who God called to do His work; men who may be much more popular than I; men in whom God’s presence can be clearly seen; and men whose wisdom far surpasses mine. Will I allow this to threaten me? Will I allow resentment to grow in my heart for the people God has placed in my path? Perish the thought! I trust that I will accept the help of those around me and further the cause for Christ in my area. What about you?
Post by: Larry Rushton, NBBI Open Bible Bulletin Editor, Registrar
This post appears in the July/August 2012 Open Bible Bulletin. (Click for pdf version)