When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 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. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved. As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns 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 made merry, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, ‘They have ascribed to David tens of thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?’ So Saul eyed David from that day on.
It’s hard to really know what’s going on here. Jonathan seems to be in love with David – giving him his robes and weapons and making a covenant with him; David, of course, enjoys the attention from the king’s son; his success in battle made him more popular than the tempramental king, Saul. A jealous king looks on a popular warrior who seems to be inveigling his way into the royal family playing on the affections of his son – the heir presumptive. No wonder Saul “eyed David” from that day on. As we shall see in tomorrow’s reading, Saul arranges for David to marry one of his daughters, no doubt thinking he could keep a closer eye on him.
Jealousy is a powerfully dangerous emotion. It can embitter us, skew our perceptions and make us lose any sense of rationality. Coupled with jealousy Saul realised his hold on the throne was weak and that of his family becoming weaker due to David – the cuckoo in the nest. Saul, presumably, didn’t know that he’d lost the support of organised religion and that its favour now fell on David. So we have a heady mix of love and jealousy, a heroic warrior and an insecure king, youthful desire and middle aged resentment.
In our own dealings with others we need to be aware of the part our emotions play. Do we find it easier to be kind and caring to those we find attractive? Does jealousy play a part in our responses to others? Are we insecure on our petty thrones, always aware that we could be deposed or do we sit securely in the role and work that God has given us?
God of love, help me to understand my emotions, and the complex reactions I have to others. Help me to be aware when I am attracted to someone, to give thanks for beauty, but to be aware of my own responses.
Help me to be wise when I dislike someone, especially when I am jealous, that I may love even when I don’t like the other, that I may sit securely in the work you have given me to do. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston, Minister Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs