Here is part 3 of the devotion on Envy.
THE DESTRUCTIVENESS OF ENVY
Read 1 Sam 21-22.
The envy of Saul turned him into a bloodthirsty man. Ahimelech the priest in Nod fed David the holy bread without knowledge that David was fleeing from Saul. In fact, David lied to him that he was on official business. According to the Law, only the priest was allowed to eat of the holy bread. When David and his men ate, God did not punish them according to the Law. Yet when Saul found out, he killed eighty-five priests on that same day without any investigation of the truth but presumed that Ahimelech and the priests were on David’s side. Saul once again overstepped his boundaries into God’s business. God could have stopped Ahimelech or killed him when he gave the bread to David. Or David and his men could have died immediately after eating the bread. Yet God extended His grace to all. Saul commanded an Edomite, Doeg to kill the priests of God when none of his servants dared. Saul literally delivered his own people who served his God into the hands of the enemy in this senseless rage. He exterminated Nob, the city of priests, including women, children and animals with only one priest who escaped to David. Compare Saul’s actions with David’s response to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Sam 26:9) to the extermination of a city of priests.
Saul lost all fear and respect for God when he was overcame by envy. This is a heart wrenching episode, especially when Israel as a nation were at that point still stabilizing its sovereignty against her enemies. From here on, there was no record of Saul’s glorious victories in battles but an obsession to hunt down David. Saul lost sight of his kingship over Israel, the very thing he was trying to protect in his envy towards David. Instead of fighting external enemies, he became the enemy of Israel from within.
David was not the only victim of Saul’s envy. The collateral damage did not exclude the community of God’s servants. Nod is a representation of the church, a community of priests whom all believers are called to be. A physical murder of a church is unlikely to happen but a spiritual extermination of a community of believers by a person enraged by envy is not impossible. Envy is not simply an issue between two persons or a few. If it exists in the church, it affects everyone, not only at the personal level but also at the corporate level.
“… when we envy one another in the kingdom of God, we release dynamics that actually bind the progress of the Kingdom in our sphere or region. Envy has the power to obstruct the release of Kingdom blessing, even in places where massive amounts of intercession for revival and visitation are ascending to God’s throne. In fact, I will argue in this book that envy has been responsible, perhaps more than any other evil or vice, for quenching the fires of revival both in the past and in the present.” – Bob Sorge