1 Samuel 18:6-9


Sermon preached on May 10, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.


I once read that being bitter is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. Bitterness doesn't primarily hurt the other person, but the person who is bitter. It eats away at them from the inside, like a cancer, and is very destructive to them.

Jealousy is like that. People who are jealous can be very skillful and ingenious in plotting and seeking the downfall of their rival, but in the end they are the ones that are destroyed. Jealousy is self-destructive. It's important that we see this and not let it have a place in our lives.

To help us with this, we're going to look at Saul's jealousy of David. When they were returning from the battle where David slew Goliath, the women of Israel credited Saul with slaying thousands, and with David ten of thousands. Their praises of David were more lavish than their praises of Saul. Saul didn't like David getting more credit than he received. Saul became angry and it galled him. From that time on he kept a jealous eye on David. As we shall see, this act greatly accelerated his downward spiral toward destruction.

The great lesson for you here is that

you are not to be jealous of other people.

The Bible speaks warns you against jealousy in many places. In Romans 1:29 envy is listed among the most wicked of sins. Paul wrote,

"They have become filled
with every kind of wickedness,
evil, greed and depravity.
They are full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit and malice."

Titus 3:3 says that envy is characteristic of the old man and not of the new way of life in Christ. Paul wrote and said,

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient,
deceived and enslaved by all kinds
of passions and pleasures.
We lived in malice and envy,
being hated and hating one another."

Job 5:2 speaks of the self-destructive influence of jealousy. It says,

"Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple."

Proverbs 14:30 echoes that sentiment. It says,

"A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones."

Not only that, but those who practice envy and jealousy will not get to heaven. In Galatians 5:19-21 we read,

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:
sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
idolatry and witchcraft;
hatred, discord, jealousy,
fits of rage, selfish ambition,
dissensions, factions and envy;
drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I did before,
that those who live like this
will not inherit the kingdom of God."

So it's very important that you and I not be envious of each other or of other people. If we're going to get to heaven, if we're going to live productive lives, if we're going to please our Savior, we must not be jealous of others.

But what exactly is prohibited when we are told not to be jealous? It's obvious that the Bible doesn't forbid all types of jealousy. Indeed, it tells us that some types of jealousy are good. For example, in 2 Corinthians 11:2 the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians,

"I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.
I promised you to one husband, to Christ,
so that I might present you
as a pure virgin to him."

Paul was jealous for them in the sense that he wanted the Corinthians to be more devoted to God. He wanted them to be protected from the evil one. He was jealous for them in the sense that He wants them to be Christ's and His alone. Such a jealousy was good. Paul loved the Corinthian Christians so much that he only wanted what was spiritually good for them. He was a good minister of Jesus Christ and he was jealous for them. He wasn't jealous of them, he was jealous for them.

We also know that
jealousy is one of God's attributes. In the Bible we are told that God is a jealous God. In Exodus 34:14 God said to the Israelites,

"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD,
whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."

Human beings belong to God. We were all created for the glory of Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:16) For the devil or anyone else to usurp His place is a great evil. When that happens, God becomes jealous. Jealousy in such a case in not evil, but exceedingly righteous and good. God should be jealous for His people. We are His. For another to take our affections and service is a great evil. God is a jealous God. That means that He loves us. It may very well be that His jealously for us was instrumental in our salvation.

There is another type of jealousy that is good. This is in the case of
marriage. If a husband or wife gives their affections inappropriately to someone who is not the one they are married to, then the spouse has every right to be jealous.

Now I'm not referring to the petty jealousy that sometimes occurs when on overly jealous husband or wife becomes angry if his or her spouse merely talks to someone else. Such a person is way too controlling and such jealousy is wrong.

But when a spouse inappropriately transfers their affections to someone else, and sets their love on them, instead of one their spouse—that is a great evil. The cheated spouse has every right to be jealous. Indeed, not to be jealous in such a case would be a great evil.

Something that is theirs has been transferred to another. That's a great evil and such jealousy is good. Not to be jealous in such a case would be a great evil.

So there are good kinds of jealousy and we certainly are not to avoid them.

But the kind of jealousy that we are warned about here is inappropriate jealousy, where we are jealous of someone else and we want to be exalted above them. We are envious of what they have and we want it for ourselves.

That's what we see in Saul. He had intense negative feelings about David's achievement against Goliath. He not only wanted to be honored like David, but he wanted David to be dishonored. He wanted to take away from what David had and have it for himself. He started to hate David and sought to destroy him.

Again we need to be clear.

There would have been nothing wrong with Saul if he merely wanted to do great things for the Lord, like David did. There would have been nothing wrong if he merely wanted to excel in spiritual gifts like David did.

Speaking of spiritual gifts the apostle Paul told the Corinthian Christians to, (1 Corinthians 12:31)

"eagerly desire the greater gifts."

We are to desire the best spiritual gifts. There's nothing wrong with wanting great spiritual gifts. We see that in the prophet Elisha. You'll remember when it came time for God to take his master, Elijah from this earth, Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. (2 Kings 2:9) He was asking for the firstborn son's portion, the double portion. He didn't want to be ordinary in serving God. He wanted to excel in it.

That's the way we should all be. We should all be praying that God would bless us so that we will be filled with His Spirit and grow in grace. As
2 Corinthians 13:11 tells us, we are all to,

"aim for perfection."

There's nothing at all wrong with wanting to be a great servant of the Lord.

But there were
two things wrong with Saul's jealousy of David.

The first thing that was wrong was that he wanted the glory for himself.

There would have been nothing wrong with Saul if he was grieved that God was not honored like he should have been. David wanted God to be honored. We see that from his speech to Goliath. He must have been grieved that instead of giving God the glory for the great victory, the women were giving it to him and Saul. Saul should have had jealousy for God's glory. The women were making a terrible mistake in praising David and Saul instead of God.

But Saul was not concerned about God's glory, but about his own. He said, (verse 8)

"They have credited David
with tens of thousands,
but me with only thousands.
What more can he get but the kingdom?"

He was concerned not about God's glory, but about his own.

In serving Christ, we must take heed of Jesus' words in Mark 9:35,

"If anyone wants to be first,
he must be the very last,
and the servant of all."

We must not be seeking our own honor. One of Saul's problems was that he was not like John the Baptist who said, (John 3:30)

"He must become greater;
I must become less."

As the Bible repeatedly tells us, (2 Corinthians 10:17)

"Let him who boasts
boast in the Lord."

Saul's problem was that he was like Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9-10. John said,

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes,
who loves to be first,
will have nothing to do with us.
So if I come,
I will call attention to what he is doing,
gossiping maliciously about us.
Not satisfied with that,
he refuses to welcome the brothers.
He also stops those who want to do so
and puts them out of the church."

Diotrephes was jealous of John and the other apostles. He wanted the preeminence. He didn't want to be second or third. He wanted to be first. He was seeking his honor instead of the honor of Christ. That was a great evil.

Nothing like that should be in our lives. We must not seek our own honor, but the honor of God.

Indeed, we must even put other Christians ahead of ourselves. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3,

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves."

So what is condemned here is any desire to exalt yourself and to take honor to yourself. In everything you do you should seek to exalt and honor God. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16,

"let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."

The second thing that was wrong with King Saul was that

he wanted what David had in such a way that he wanted David to be deprived of it.

Our text tells us that from that day on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. To be more literal, Saul kept an 'eye of sin' or an 'eye of iniquity' on David. The idea was that Saul fixed his eye on David looking for ways to harm him.

The effects of this were soon evident. In verses 10 and 11 we see that one day while David was playing the harp for Saul, Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it at David, saying to himself,

"I'll pin David to the wall."

But David eluded Saul twice.

He was jealous of him, in not just wanting what David had, but he wanted to destroy him.

But instead of Saul's jealousy destroying David, it destroyed him.

It's no coincidence that the very next verse has these words, (verse 10)

"The next day an evil spirit from God
came forcefully upon Saul."

If you give yourself to sin, God may give you over to it. It seems that's what happened to King Saul. Jealousy of David cemented and sealed Saul's fate. Twice he tried to kill David with his spear. In verse 17 we see that he offers his daughter in marriage to David thinking that the Philistines would kill David.

"For Saul said to himself,
'I will not raise a hand against him.
Let the Philistines do that!'"

After that, when he found out that his daughter Michal was in love with David, Saul was pleased and thought, (verse 21)

"I will give her to him
so that she may be a snare to him
and so that the hand of the Philistines
may be against him."

Later Saul became obsessed with harming David. He tells his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. (19:1) Time and again he tries to kill David so that David has to flee. Saul then thinks the priests of the Lord at Nob are conspiring with David and he has the priests of the Lord killed. Time and again he pursues David trying to find him and kill him. What a waste of time and resources. The more he hated David the farther away from the Lord he went. He ended up confused, afraid, and hopeless, with the Lord not answering him. He finally consulted a witch and got a horrible prophecy about himself and his sons, how they would soon be dead. Saul's jealousy of David hurt Saul a lot more than it hurt David. Jealousy is self-destructive.

Now what does all this mean for us as far as helping us not be jealous of others?

First, it means that you need to be focused on God and His glory.

The women of Israel did Saul a great disservice. They praised him and David. Their actions led to Saul's jealousy. Saul himself was not focused on God and His glory and therefore he fell into jealousy.

Christians, the best way to avoid evil jealousy is to be focused on God and His glory. Don't think about yourself but about Him and His kingdom. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-8,

"Your attitude should be
the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

Jesus, in order to save us, Jesus came and emptied Himself. He lowered Himself. We are to follow His example. Our rights, our honor, our glory—matters nothing. What matters is the advancement of Christ's kingdom. To that end you are not to be jealous of others—but you are to see yourselves as their servants.

Second, you should not be jealous, because if you're jealous of someone else,

you're fighting against God's provision, against God's wisdom.

Saul tried everything he could think of to stop God from exalting David. Yet he couldn't stop God from blessing everything that David did. It's useless to fight against God.

If you become jealous, you'll find yourself fighting in a futile cause. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 the apostle Paul spoke about spiritual gifts and said,

"Now to each one
the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for the common good.
To one there is given
through the Spirit the message of wisdom,
to another the message of knowledge
by means of the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing
by that one Spirit,
to another miraculous powers,
to another prophecy,
to another distinguishing between spirits,
to another speaking
in different kinds of tongues,
and to still another
the interpretation of tongues.
All these are the work of one
and the same Spirit,
and he gives them to each one,
just as he determines.

God gives gifts according to His wisdom. Rather than looking at others and being jealous, we should recognize that God knows what He's doing and we should be determined to use the gifts that God has given us to the best of our ability. Embrace the provision that God has given you. Embrace it and you will be exalted. As the apostle Peter wrote 1 Peter 5:5-6

"All of you, clothe yourselves
with humility toward one another,
because, God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.'
Humble yourselves, therefore,
under God's mighty hand,
that he may lift you up in due time.

The third thing that should help us not be jealous is the fact that

we're all in this together.

David used his gifts to bring glory to God and to bring deliverance, not only to Israel, but to King Saul as well. Saul greatly benefited from David's actions.

We need to take to heart the words of 1 Corinthians 12:25-26,

"there should be no division in the body,
but that its parts should have
equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers,
every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored,
every part rejoices with it.

The church of Jesus Christ is one. When David was successful, it benefited King Saul.

King Saul should have been like Jonathan. In verse 1 we read that after David killed Goliath,

"After David had finished talking with Saul,
Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.

Then in verse 4 we read that Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, his sword, his bow and his belt. John Woodhouse writes, (1 Samuel, p. 350)

"Jonathan was symbolically transferring his own royal rights and prerogatives (chief of which was his legitimate claim to the throne in Israel) to David. His passing over of his royal weapons and armor would have a similar significance. This was nothing less than an act of abdication."


Saul should have seen David as his successor and done everything to promote that.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, what you should see from our text is that

Saul's jealousy here is perhaps a preview of the awful jealousy that many will know on the last day.

On the last day, many are going to be told to depart from Jesus, into darkness. Perhaps as they go they will see those who are glorified with Jesus. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Perhaps their greatest wish would be that they would be among the redeemed. How jealous they will be. But it will be too late. They will be ordered to depart into misery. It will be an eternity of jealousy—of torment, of regret, of misery.

Don't let that happen to you. Go to Jesus and be saved from that. Go to Jesus now.