Devotion on Envy Part 5/5 – World

Here is part 5 of the devotion on Envy.


David’s favor and blessings from God, even before the public announcement of God’s appointment of him as king was known to Saul, was the cause of Saul’s envy. The Bible recorded that David was careful in how he conduct himself. 1 Sam 18:5 in some translations like NKJV & AMP translated the verse as David “behaved wisely”. He never intentionally raised himself to be above Saul, but served Saul whole-heartedly with respect. When Saul was distressed by an evil spirit, David played music to soothe him. When Saul needed a soldier to fight, David fought. When Saul tried to kill him, David dodged but never attacked. When Saul pursued his life, David became a fugitive but never once instigated a rebellion for the wrong he suffered. Through the mouth of Saul, he confessed to David that he knew that David was blameless, saying “You are more righteous than I” (1 Sam 24:17) and “I have sinned” in 1 Sam 26:21.

More often than not, the favor, anointing and blessings of God set us up as envy targets. Solomon in his wisdom wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:4 “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” The motivation for hard work is envy and the drive to success is the desire to be in a position that others envy. Our salvation, calling, anointing and blessings of God are God’s grace and not by our striving. The hard question is: how do we respond to other’s envy because of God’s grace in our lives? We can repent of our own envy of others, but when it is others’ envy toward us, it is beyond our control. Yet before pushing all responsibility of others’ envy away, it is crucial that we do a self-check.

Have we given honor, full respect and support to the very person who is attacking us out of envy, just like how David treated Saul? There might be hidden bias and sometimes even self-righteousness in us that might have unconsciously surfaced in our tone, choice of words, body language and even actions that added fuel to the already flaming envy. Perhaps we can be of help for the person with envy, helping him to overcome envy by our conduct with gentleness and much sensitivity, and of course undergirded with lots of prayer. In the case of David with Saul, there was no success in stopping Saul from pursuing David, but the process honed David’s character and also his dependence on God.

Why would God want to put His children in the limelight and not prevent envy? Paul writes in Romans 11:11 that “salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious” and in v14 “I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them”. We can see in Romans 11 that God’s strategic purpose is to bring Israel back to God by blessing the Gentiles with salvation. Although this verse is in the context of salvation of Israel, we can apply this same principle to the pre-believers in the world, which also includes Israel. God allows envy to remain so that this envy becomes a motivation for people to seek God, going beyond the material and worldly successes to the source. So how are we as believers to respond to the other’s envy of God’s blessings?

Devotion on Envy Part 4/5 – Family/ Workplace/ School

Here is part 4 of the devotion on Envy.


Psalm 55:12-14

“12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;

if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.

13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,

14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God,

as we walked about among the worshipers.

Envy happens among people in close proximity. Saul was to be like a father and leader to David. Saul’s son Jonathan was David’s covenantal brother, and his daughter Michal married David. The kingship’s anointing upon David had made him a competitor to Saul’s throne. It is interesting that Saul recognizes this anointing upon David (1 Sam 24:20) even though Samuel’s anointing of David was done in private. Saul saw the potential, calling and destiny of David and was fearful. Saul also knew that God was with David. Saul acted even before David rose to his full destiny. In fact, he was trying to stop David.

Compare Saul to our Abba Father who also declares himself as jealous in Exodus 20:5 when God gave the second of the Ten Commandments to Moses saying, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”. This same jealousy of God is also recorded in Psalm 78:58 and 79:5. The jealousy of God is not something we should even try to provoke. We will not split hairs with the definition and differences of envy and jealousy as they are different sides of the same coin. How is the envy of Saul different from the jealousy of God? What makes God’s jealousy right while our envy wrong? God is jealous for us and we are jealous of another. God’s jealousy is protective and our jealousy is destructive. God’s jealousy is based on pure sacrificial love while our fleshy envy is self-centered. This is the Father’s love that each believer has. This is the security that David rested in.

David knew his destiny. He was secure in God. Pursued by Saul like a fugitive, he endured and did what was right in the eyes of God. He was deeply hurt and felt the pain of betrayal as expressed in Psalm 55. Yet he did not allow Saul’s envy to contaminate his heart with evil. Most importantly, David did not allow Saul’s actions to rob him of his destiny in God.

Apostle Paul reflects a similar attitude to other’s envy in Philippians where his focus is fixated on God and His kingdom, away from these momentary incidences.

Phi 1:15-18 “15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”The bottomline is: “What does it matter?”

Devotion on Envy Part 3/5 – CHURCH

Here is part 3 of the devotion on 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

Devotion on Envy Part 2/5 – Interpersonal Level

Here is part 2 of the devotion on Envy.


Jonathon was a peer of David and the rightful heir to Saul’s throne. If Saul was fearful that David will take over his kingdom, Jonathon should have more to fear since this concerned his future. Saul killed a thousand, at least according to the women’s singing, but Jonathon only had a battle to boast about which was recorded in 1 Sam 14, killing 20 and leading Israel to victory. Jonathon was not known as a mighty warrior although he was in battle with Saul. None sang about Jonathan. He was in the shadow of the kingdom; even with his “courageous hero” moment in 1 Sam 14, he received no warrior accolade. Instead, he was nearly put to death because he ate honey, ignorant of the oath Saul made for the Israelites to fast. The Israelites acknowledged his deliverance of the nation and saved him.

Despite these circumstances, Jonathon was David’s covenantal brother. David described the relationship as “more wonderful than that of women” (2 Sam 1:26). This was mutual as it was recorded many times that Jonathan “loved him (David) as himself” (1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17). In 1 Sam 18:4, it records that “Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” This act demonstrated that he was ready to give up his position as the crown prince to David. The sword that Jonathan carried is precious as it was recorded in 1 Sam 13:22 that Saul and Jonathan were the only ones who had swords in Israel. Although the Israelites would have obtained more swords from the Philistines from battle victories, but this sword represented Jonathan’s power and authority as crown prince. Jonathan acknowledged God’s calling and anointing upon David and submitted to God and David. This was a complete contrast to Saul’s response to David. Jonathan remained loyal to David, but remained filial as the son of Saul, battling alongside his father. It must be heart breaking for Jonathan to see his father bounty hunting for David and he never failed to defend David before Saul. When Jonathan knew that he could not stop Saul from killing David, a touching parting of ways was recorded.

After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.” 1 Sam 20:41-42

The relationship between David and Jonathan is an example where there is an absence of envy. In the absence of envy, we see a deep relationship despite circumstances being perfect breeding ground for envy and suspicion. It started and was held by a genuine agape love they had for each other.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Cor 13:4

Devotion on Envy Part 1/5 – Personal Level


I recently finished writing a 5 days devotion on Envy for my churn’s group study and reflection on King Saul and King David. Thought I will share them here.

Bob Sorge defines envy as “the pain or distress we feel over another’s success”. Underlying this is a selfish competition with others.

King Saul was a successful man being the first king of Israel. Physically he was a head taller than average and the most handsome of all (1 Sam 9:2). When the Spirit of God fell upon Saul he prophesized with the prophets. He had accompanying signs to affirm his call and position.
We see a domino effect in Saul’s life bringing him on a downward spiral. The first was his presumptuousness by offering a sacrifice in the absence of prophet Samuel. His role and responsibilities as king were clearly explained to the people in the presence of Saul (1 Sam 10:25), and that does not include offering sacrifices before God. Following which, the battle with the Amalek surfaced Saul’s disobedience to God’s specific instructions and resulted in his rejection by God. Before the appearance of David, Saul was slipping and he knew that it was a matter of time that God would have him replaced. Such fear and insecurity became the breeding ground for envy when David came into his life.

When the men were returning home after David killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.” – 1 Sam 18:6-9 (NIV)
This victory song triggered intense envy in Saul. There was no reason why King Saul should be envious; he was the king who held power over the nation and David was a mighty man under him. It was not unusual for kings to have generals who killed more enemies in the battlefield than the king. A wise king advances his kingdom with mighty and loyal generals. It seems petty that a simple refrain by women who were without social and political influence triggered Saul’s obsession with David’s death.

Imagine if Saul had intentionally jammed brake his spiral down by turning away from envy and repent before God, his end might be very different although there were still the consequences of sin. Perhaps David was supposed to be a channel of blessing for Saul instead of a threat that he perceived.

Saul fell in the the trap of envy because he lost sight of his calling and detiny. As followers of Jesus Christ, do we know our identity in Christ? If we do, the fear of another person(s) taking away our calling or blessing from God is groundless since the storehouse of heaven has more than enough for all of us. Let us find rest in this assurance of grace, and guard hearts to be quick to repent.

Envy has the power to sabotage our own personal destiny in God because God cannot honor our efforts when they are subliminally driven by impure motives.” – Bob Sorge