Stan Cox

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The Simple Gospel

The Dangers and Consequences of Envy

The Bible records for us an amazing feat, performed by a young man of faith. I refer to the slaying of Goliath by young David. The great victory of David over Goliath was a victory which made all of Israel grateful. This included Saul, who took David into his house where he was befriended by Saul's son Jonathan (cf. 1 Sam. 18:1-5).

However, the friendship of Saul and David was not destined to last. It was destroyed by one of the most insidious weapons Satan has in his arsenal, the sin of envy. David performed in battle so well that the people began to talk of his prowess. The women of Israel sang, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands" (1 Samuel 18:7).

Notice Saul's response to all of this. "Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed {but} thousands. Now {what} more can he have but the kingdom?" So Saul eyed David from that day forward" (1 Samuel 18:8-9).

So many emotions resulted from the envy of Saul. Anger, jealousy, paranoia, all led to murderous intent. On a number of occasions Saul tried to have David killed:

  • Threw a spear at him while David was playing music (1 Samuel 18:11).
  • Duplicitously plotted his fall at the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:25). Note after the Lord delivered David, we read in verse 29, "And Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David's enemy continually."
  • Instructed Jonathan and his servants to kill David (1 Samuel 19:1).
  • Threw another spear at him (1 Samuel 19:10).
  • David fled, and Saul pursued him until his own death at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

The Lord was not with Israel during the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. Saul and his three sons were killed, including Jonathan, and the Philistines overran the cities of the Israelites.

It can be said that the envy of Saul ruined the rest of his life. His realization that David was the anointed, future king disturbed Saul so much that he became obsessed with his attempt to have David killed. This is a striking example of the terrible power envy can have. It is the first step in a progression of sins which can end in such tangibly damaging sins as slander, gossip, violence, and even murder.

Other examples of envy and its consequences:

  • Jews delivered Jesus out of envy (Matthew 27:18).
  • Jews expelled Paul and Barnabas from Antioch of Pisidia because of envy (Acts 13:45,50).
  • The Corinthians divided in part from envy (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
  • Some preached Christ from envy, supposing to add affliction to Paul's chains (Philippians 1:15-16).

At one time, we all were guilty of envy. But, brethren, that should not now be. We ought all to examine ourselves, and purge envy from us. It is not proper for children of God (cf. Titus 3:3-7).

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