1 Samuel 18:6-16
And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine…
And Saul eyed David from that day forward (ver. 9). How extraordinary are the moral contrasts which are often presented in human life! The friendship of Jonathan here stands in opposition to the envy of Saul. Hardly had David experienced the one before he was exposed to the other. "His victory had a double issue, Jonathan's love and Saul's envy, which God so mixed that the one was a remedy of the other" (Hall). On the day of public rejoicing the seeds of jealousy, envy, and hatred were sown in his heart. He eyed David not with favour, as before, but with dislike on account of the honour given to him beyond himself. The general suspicion which he entertained in consequence of the intimations of Samuel concerning his successor also seems to have fastened on him as the man; and henceforth he looked upon him as a dangerous rival. "Mingling with his constitutional malady, it poisoned his whole future relations with David." Of envy notice that -
I. IT TAKES ROOT IN AN EVIL HEART. In the case of Saul the soil was congenial and ready prepared by -
1. Alienation from God and conviction of his disfavour.
2. Selfishness and morbid concentration of thought upon himself.
3. Self-will, pride, and worldly ambition, still continuing and increasing.
4. Wrathful passion. He was very wroth, and the saying displeased him (ver. 8). "He who is apt to feel indignation, feels pain at those who are undeservedly successful; but the envious man, going beyond him, feels pain at every one's success" (Aristotle, 'Ethics').
II. IT GROWS IS THE SHADE OF ANOTHER'S PRE-EMINENCE in -
1. Popular estimation. "They have ascribed unto David ten thousands," etc. (ver. 8). "What properly occasions envy is the fruit of the accomplishments of others; the pre-eminence which the opinion of the world bestows, or which we dread it will bestow, on their talents above ours" (Blair).
2. Successful achievements, from which such preference proceeds. "The bright day brings out the adder." Prosperity is generally attended by envy.
3. Personal excellences. David "behaved himself wisely" (ver. 5); "very wisely" (ver. 15); "more wisely than all" (ver. 30). He acted prudently, cautiously, skilfully, and therefore prosperously. Base envy withers at another's joy, And hates the excellence it cannot reach (Thomson).
4. Divine approbation, which appears in prosperous enterprises. "And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him," etc. (ver. 12). "And Cain was very wroth," etc. (Genesis 4:5; 1 John 3:2). The envy felt at the favour shown to another by God is peculiarly criminal, because of its opposition to God himself.
III. IT IS MARKED BY MANY ODIOUS FEATURES.
2. In most cases ingratitude. David had conferred a great benefit on Saul and Israel by his victory over Goliath; he "went out whithersoever Saul sent him," and fought his battles; and often soothed his melancholy with the music of his harp (ver. 10).
3. Injustice. He did him "shame" (1 Samuel 20:34) by entertaining suspicions of his loyalty and treating him as a traitor.
4. Ungodliness and all uncharitableness. "Charity envieth not." "Envy is the worst of all passions, and feedeth upon the spirits, and they again upon the body; and so much the more because it is perpetual, and, as it is said, keepeth no holidays" (Bacon, 'Essays').
IV. IT IS PRODUCTIVE OF MUCH DEADLY FRUIT, in relation both to others (Proverbs 27:4) and to the envious man himself (Proverbs 14:30); partly of hatred and partly of grief. "As it shows itself in hatred it strikes at the person envied; but as it affects a man in the nature of grief it recoils and does execution upon the envier. It lies at the heart like a worm, always gnawing and corroding and piercing it with a secret, invisible sting and poison" (South, 'Sermons,' 58.). In Saul it produced unrest of soul, increased subjection to the power of evil - "it came to pass on the morrow," etc. (ver. 10); ungovernable rage - "he poised the javelin" twice; craft and hypocrisy; fear (vers. 11, 15); continual enmity (ver. 21); deliberate avowal of murderous intentions (1 Samuel 19:1); open and unceasing persecution; despair and self-destruction. "When in the last judgment envy is placed at the bar of God, what an indictment will he laid against the evil spirit! The insulting anger of Eliab, the cruelty of Joseph's brethren, the murderous wrath of Cain, and the greatest share in the greatest crime in the world - the crucifying of the Lord of glory - will be charged upon him. To cast this demon out of our bosoms before that final condemnation is one purpose of Jesus, and with all our hearts we should pray for his complete and. speedy victory" (C Vince). Conclusion: - In order to the cure or prevention of this evil passion, seek a renewed heart; dwell much on the Divine love "that spurns all envying in its bounty;" estimate aright temporal advantages; entertain lowly thoughts of self; learn to admire excellence in others, and regard it as if it were your own; check the first impulse of jealous or envious feeling; and "commit thy way unto the Lord."
"O man! why place thy heart where there doth need
Exclusion of participants in good?
Heaven calls, And, round about you wheeling, courts your gaze
With everlasting beauties. Yet your eye
Turns with fond doting still upon the earth.
Therefore he smites you who discerneth all"
(Dante, 'Purg.' 14.) - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
WEB: It happened as they came, when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with instruments of music.