Feb15WedFebruary 15, 2017
Have you ever been the object of severe hostility and found yourself scorned by those who once professed to love you?
Our Daily Scripture reading takes us straight into that environment this week through David’s relationship with Saul. The king’s animosity against David had grown over several months as David became tremendously successful in battle and was winning over the hearts of the people. Although David had no intentions of committing treason, the king presumed that he was. Finally, Saul’s son Jonathan called him out by saying, “Don’t let the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and his deeds have been for your benefit… The Lord is working a great salvation for God’s people. You’ve seen it and have rejoiced! Why then, are you intent to destroy him without cause?” (1 Samuel 19:4-5). Enough though Saul listened and vowed to keep his jealousy at bay, within a short amount of time, Saul tried to kill David as David was leading worship in the king’s own house!
How quickly jealousy can turn into bitterness, hatred and violence – even among family (David was Saul’s son-in-law by this point) or even among God’s own people.
I’d love to identify with David in this story, but it’s more beneficial, especially during this season on prayer, for me to identity with Saul. If I’m not careful, it can be very easy to allow seeds of bitterness to grow in my heart towards other people. Sometimes, those thoughts are completely unprovoked! For example, when I hear incredible stories of how God is working in other churches or in countries around the world, Satan would love to tempt me with just enough jealousy to begin to look upon that gathering with arrogant contempt.
In other situations, sometimes my hostility towards others does have merit - whether they’ve cut me off in traffic or cut me down in conversation. But in those moment, the Holy Spirit quickly fills my mind with, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). By God’s grace, David practiced this! As he was hiding from Saul, he wrote, “Don’t kill them, only make them wander by your power…let them be trapped in their pride. But I will sing of your strength and will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning!” (Psalm 59:11,12b, 16a). When I am tempted to harbor bitterness towards anyone, provoked or not, I need to continually learn how to pray for them and keep worshipping the God of my strength.
None of us are immune from harboring bitterness in our hearts. Yet when tempted, we need to recognize that it defiles our spirit, hinders our pursuit of the Lord (Hebrews 12:14-15), opens a door for Satan and grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:29-31). Therefore, as you come before the Lord in prayer this week, I invite you to give any bitterness or hostility to Him. He is able to take seeds of anger and turn them into tenderhearted compassion and Godly affection. In fact, this is one area in which God does His most miraculous work! If only Saul had come to see the power which was available to Him through faith in God Most High…