Every Thought Captive

Jealousy or Love

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.

The next day a harmful 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 hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death.

1 Samuel 18:1-12; 19:1-7; 20:30-33

If you’re a warrior king, wouldn’t you enjoy a song lyric that credits you with striking down thousands? Unless, of course, the next line mentions your rival striking down his ten thousands (1 Samuel 18:7). If you’re a troubled king, wouldn’t you be grateful for a skilled musician who play you back into your right mind? Unless, of course, that psalmist is your replacement and the man after God’s own heart. Jealousy is never a solitary tree growing in a field; it’s a beautiful tree growing in the shadow of an even more beautiful tree. C.S. Lewis reminds us that pride is “essentially competitive.” Shouldn’t we be content with our abilities, our resources, our ministry, and our relationships? Of course, until we see someone with more talent, more wealth, more fruitfulness, and more fulfilling relationships. Jealousy grows in the freshly plowed soil of wounded pride, when God doesn’t deliver what we think we deserve. And if we don’t dig up the bitter root, the insanity of sin grows like kudzu. We may not throw spears or send people into battle hoping they’ll fall by the sword, but just like Saul, we can fall into this downward spiral of pride, anger, fear, jealousy, and violence. How are pride and jealousy at work in our lives in this season? Where do we feel like we’re not getting what we deserve?

If we see ourselves in the sinful insanity of Saul, is there any hope for us? Jonathan, the crown prince and Saul’s son, shows us another way. If Saul’s eyes are fixed on himself and his rival, Jonathan’s eyes appear to be fixed on the true King, the God of Israel. Through eyes of faith, Jonathan sees what the Lord is doing in his father’s life and in David’s life. David is the chosen king of Israel, and rather than fight him, Jonathan embraces him. Jonathan’s choice to love and protect David costs him his shot at the throne and his relationship with his father. Why is Jonathan embracing his rival instead of eliminating him? He has the humility to see that life and the kingdom are not ultimately about him. Jonathan, with his sacrificial love and willingness to be cut off from his father, reminds us of another Son who came as King. Jesus Christ is the true and greater Jonathan. Though He was the King of kings, He did not press for His privileges or demand what He deserved. His humility is astounding. We didn’t understand what Jesus was doing, so we threw the spear at Him. He threatened our kingdom, so we tried to eliminate Him. But in dying on the cross, He was loving and protecting us—His enemies—that we might become His friends. Do we know the humble love of Jesus Christ? Is it striking down our pride and uprooting our jealousy? As we look at the world today, are we seeing through eyes of faith? Are we little kings and queens with sandcastle kingdoms, or are we beloved sons and daughters of the King who has come and is coming again?

About the Author

Photograph of Robby Higginbottom

Robby Higginbottom

Pastor of Community

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. He currently serves as Pastor of Community at PCPC. Robby is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John.