“When the men were returning home after David had 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 tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’
Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get than the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” (1 Samuel 18:6-8/NIV)
In those days the Israelites had many difficulties. They were surrounded by enemies.
Very recently a giant fellow called Goliath had challenged the Israelites they should send one single man to fight with him. Experienced soldiers were fully aware that this was not an easy assignment. This man was far taller than the others. How could he ever be defeated?
Then a virtual nobody, a boy by name of David appeared who did not even know how to carry arms properly. He decided to take up the battle with his sling and some stones only.
I guess you know the story. One of David’s stones forcefully hit Goliath’s forehead so that he fell down unable to carry on the battle. Then David took his sword and killed him.
King Saul was very impressed and rewarded David making him a military leader. David carried out the assignments he was given very successfully. The people of Israel and the officers of the king were happy about David’s military exploits.
Then something happened. The men of Israel were returning home. The news of the victories achieved had spread rapidly. Women were coming out singing and dancing. They were particularly excited about the young boy who had defeated Goliath and who had gained several other victories.
In their excitement the women of Israel went beyond political correctness in their singing. They had not had a king for long and they were not that aware of the feelings of kings. They just celebrated the victories God had given much in the way they might have done in the days of Samuel’s or other judges’ leadership.
Now Saul was very conscious of his position as a king. He was concerned to stay in power.
The women sang of Saul’s and David’s victories. In their song they made David a greater hero than the king.
Saul was very displeased about this spontaneous reaction of the women of Israel. He ceased to be happy about David’s exploits. He was concerned lest this boy should become too powerful and a threat to his own authority in Israel.
At first Saul’s attitude towards David changed. Short after that he even tried to kill or at least to wound David. Thus Saul became a warning example of what can happen if somebody gives way to envy and jealousy.
In his description of Christian love, St. Paul says a loving person would not yield to such emotions. He states: “Charity envieth not.” (1 Corinthians 13:4b/KJV).