from Lydia Buchanan
What I think about when I read these passages--the prose in 1 Samuel 18 and in Acts 23--is jealousy for the blessings of God and who we hold anger against when they’re missing.
In Samuel, Saul is jealous of David. Fresh off his victory over Goliath, David is ascending in power, military success, and popularity (1 Sam. 18:7). It’s clear that God is with David and not-so-clear that he is with Saul. “Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David, but had left Saul” (1 Samuel 18-12). Instead of turning to God to confess his mistakes, or even honestly crying out to God about his jealousy and fear, Saul makes his own plans, tries to be his own God in this situation. He plots for David to die in battle. It doesn’t work.
I think most of us know how the rest of this story goes: there is no peace in Israel until Saul dies. David, chosen by God, is untouchable. Saul continues to try to kill him. Saul, in his anxiety and envy, stumbles further from the will of God and eventually commits suicide. It’s dark. And if you take out the battles, it’s relatable. The blessings of God are miraculous and life-changing. It can be hard to see the Lord clearly at work in the lives of others and silent in our own. For me, Saul, and the religious leaders persecuting Paul in Acts, it is tempting to turn our fears into jealousy against the person we see as a rival for God’s blessings, as if the problem is that God can only be good to a limited few at a time.
In today’s passages, neither Saul nor the religious leaders out to get Paul stop and talk to God, tell him their heart. They do not cry, as the Psalmist does “Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember. . . “ (Psalm 74: 1-2). They do not search him out.
I pray that today we would turn to you, God of blessings, with the struggles of our hearts. Give us the courage and faith to speak the truth, which you already know, and hear our words with mercy.
Lydia Buchanan finds the goodness of the Lord in summer tomatoes. She lives in Brighton.