Daily Office Readings for Monday of the 5th Week of Pentecost Proper 10 of Year 1
“And the women sang to one another as they made merry, Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, ‘They have ascribed to David tens of thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?’ So Saul eyed David from that day on. The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, ‘I will pin David to the wall.’ But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand” (1 Samuel 18:7 – 13)
I know I bit off a lot here but I feel I need to unpack this in my pondering. Primarily it is the issue of jealousy. It shows its ugly head in several places in the Bible, Cane and Able in early Genesis, Eli and Samuel in 1st Samuel, and in the story of the Prodigal Son of chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke. While jealousy does not separate us from the love of God, it blinds us from realizing it. The love of God is not a scarce resource; there is more than enough to go around. God always does and acts for what is best for the community. If I am someone God can use, good. If not, then I should be happy reaping the benefits of whoever God chooses to lead (or redeem in the case of the Prodigal).
I don’t believe God has an evil spirit. This is where I take a stand against some of the writings of the Bible. The people who wrote scripture are people just like me and subject to misunderstanding just like me.
David seems to play the stringed instrument every day. “David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. (v. 10) David was a shepherd and a poet and a musician. While he had faults, including jealousy (thinking of Bathsheba and Uriah) he was a gentle soul whom God wanted to lead the Israelites. Saul seems to have kept his hands on a weapon – a spear and apparently threw it at David twice. Saul put David in charge if troops and sent him out to battle, perhaps hoping he would be killed, a lesson not lost on David who would later send Uriah out to his death.
Jealousy robs us of our freedom to be who God wants us to be. When we are concerned about what someone else has we make ourselves more and more without. We would do well to just let be what is and turn our attentions to whatever makes us better human beings. While God will choose to lead who God will choose, the rest of us are not forgotten. We are loved by God.
The same is true in society. Some of us are chosen to be in certain positions by people who hopefully are doing what they think is best, if so, good. In any case, jealousy should not be the go-to feeling we develop because we were not chosen. We must focus on the doors that are open, not the ones that are closed and locked. We all have gifts from a loving God in whom there is nothing evil.
Let is hear what the Spirit is saying to (and through) God’s people. John+