Recognizing envy in our own hearts

Thursday, November 22, 2012

IDEA: Envy can enrage us so that we spare nothing to achieve our way.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand the power of envy to drive us to murder.

We’ve been talking about envy this week.

Envy comes from Latin roots (in meaning “against,” and video meaning “to look”), and it is literally to look against or to look with ill-will against another person.

Envy has been defined as chagrin or discontent at the good fortune of another person. We’ve seen the power of envy to blind our judgment and spoil our relationships.

I. The destructive power of envy is clearly described in the life of King Saul.

Saul had everything going for him:

Saul was attractive. The writer described him as “a choice and handsome young man. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2).

Saul was modest: when Samuel told him that “all the desire of Israel” rested on him, he responded, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the. tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21). Later, after Samuel anointed him king, his uncle asked him what Samuel had said to him. He told him that the donkeys had been found, “but about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said” (1 Samuel 10:16).

God was with Saul: when Samuel anointed Saul as first king over Israel, he told the new king that “the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them [a group of prophets meeting him], and be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you” (I Samuel 10:6-7). The following verses detail how this prophecy was fulfilled.

Saul’s modesty continued after he was anointed to be king. When Samuel was to present him to the people as their king, he hid “among the equipment” and had to be brought out (1 Samuel 10:22-23).

Saul attracted valiant men to himself, men whose hearts God had touched (1 Samuel 10:26).

Saul was at first powerful in battle, victorious over the threatening Ammonites (1 Samuel 11).

Saul spared the lives of those who opposed him when others wanted to put them to death (1 Samuel 11:12-13) because he recognized that it was God who had delivered Israel, not he himself.

Yet Saul dealt lightly with God’s commands so that God eventually rejected him as king.

He endangered his people with a rash oath (1 Samuel 14:24ff) that no one was to eat before vengeance is carried out on the Philistines. His son Jonathan ate honey in the forest, was strengthened by it, and won a great victory. This compromised Saul’s oath.

He spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, after Samuel had told him clearly that all the Amalekites were to be destroyed (1 Samuel 15).

He lied to Samuel about keeping God’s commands until Samuel heard the sound of the spared cattle (1 Samuel 15:13ff).

God rejected Saul as king and instructed Samuel to anoint David in his place (1 Samuel 16).

Saul had thought he could give God only partial obedience, but it cost him his kingdom.

God’s Spirit left Saul (1 Samuel 16:14) and a distressing spirit troubled him. David was brought to calm him with harp music.

Saul came to despise David. At first he loved him greatly and made David his armor bearer (1 Samuel 16:21), but he began to resent David’s popularity.

Following David’s slaughter of Goliath, Saul set him over the men of war. But on the way home from battle, women preceded the military parade, singing and dancing, saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

“So Saul eyed David from that time forward” (1 Samuel 18:9). The next day as David played for him, he hurled a spear at him. 18:11 tells us that David escaped Saul’s presence twice.

First Samuel 18:5 and 18:14 tell us that David always behaved himself wisely. This caused Saul to fear him greatly. Instead of attempting again at that time to kill David, he set him over a company of 1,000 soldiers, hoping that the Philistines would kill him.

Saul enlisted his servants, even his daughter Michal (David’s wife), in an effort to see that David was killed (after another attempt to kill him with a spear while David played for him). Jonathan warned David to flee, and from that day forward, David was a fugitive in the wilderness, chased by Saul, for a dozen years: “And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand” (1 Samuel 23:14).

Twice, when Saul attempted to corner David, David had the opportunity to kill Saul but spared him each time (I Samuel 24, 26).

II. What happens that someone who began so well should become obsessed with killing a rival?

Envy is a sin, (among other things) an attitude of indifference, unbelief or disobedience to God’s will as we know it in our conscience, God’s law or the gospel.

Saul brought his rejection on himself through an indifferent attitude toward God’s battle plans given to him to carry out. Saul didn’t take God’s word through the prophet Samuel seriously.

Rejection by God opened him to devouring envy of his rival.

Envy distorts our judgment, making mountains out of molehills. It can turn us into killers.