Fear is a trap that brings with it so many ugly emotions that the bible describes as evil spirits.
Today’s lesson comes from 1 Samuel 18
As I continue to read of the story of David, I’m struck with the similarities I see in Saul that we all have experience. I know none of us likes to admit that we have behaved or had thoughts of behaving in like manner, but if you are completely honest with yourself, you know that you have.
In the beginning Saul was completely humble and was anointed by God to be king over all of Israel, but Saul had a problem – he was insecure and instead of seeking his value from God, he covered it with pride and sought man’s approval. Approval, I believe, is something that every human seeks. We want, and almost need, that confirmation that we are valuable, needed, and wanted. This is something, I believe, that God has placed in us so that we seek Him, but unfortunately more times than not, we seek the stamp of approval from other humans. This is placing unrealistic expectations on some poor unexpecting person that is probably looking for someone to validate them. This exemplifies the saying “hurt people, hurt people!”, and why the bible tells us “It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:8)
Back in chapter 13 Saul and his army is getting ready to go into battle, but before they do, they’re all sitting around waiting on the priest, Samuel, to make an offering to the Lord. Day’s drag by and no Samuel. Finally Samuel shows up, but not before hundreds of men snuck off, ran off, and plan-O walked off. The bible doesn’t say why they left, but Saul believing he would lose the battle if he lost any more men made the sacrifice himself. Why? FEAR! Samuel was putting his trust in human strength instead of God. Pride, out of fear, justified his action by believing that since he was king and anointed by God that he had a right to make the sacrifice. This action brought temporary approval from man, but not from God.
Fast forward to chapter 18 we see where Saul never ‘checked’ himself with God and allowed his fear to grow when he became Jealous of David.
As they danced, the women sang:
Saul has killed his thousands,
but David his tens of thousands.
Saul was furious and resented this song. “They credited tens of thousands to David,” he complained, “but they only credited me with thousands.
Can you hear the whining in Saul’s voice as you read this? The bible says that because of this God sent an evil spirit that took control of Saul and he began to rave (vs10). I find it hard to believe that God sent an evil spirit, but instead allowed an evil spirit to take control of Saul. This also tells me that jealousy is an evil spirit along with anger (and he began to rave). Jealousy and anger go hand and hand. There was a time not too long ago, when I witnessed several (more than 10) people in the church being lifted up and called out into ministry. I had been faithfully, or so I thought, following the Lord for 5 years and here were babies in Christ, months active, being recognized! I hid my hurt and disappointment, but inwardly I was seething! “How could they (church leaders) not see that I was more qualified than them!” I was jealous and I was hurt and angry, but the truth was/is they had put more into their relationship with Christ than I had and I was scared of being rejected!
When you dig down into to what is going on beneath your emotions, you’ll usually find that fear is at the root of your problem. My first AA sponsor helped me practice this crucial technique. I’ll never forget the hard lesson that drove this home. I’m a couple of months clean from an 8 year crack addiction and I get off the city bus (car was impounded), returning from my court ordered community service, and there in the driveway was a vehicle that I knew belonged to an alcoholic that I did not like! This person was self-centered like none other and rude beyond measure! All I wanted to do was run and get as far away from this individual as I could get! Anger was my first felt emotion, so I called my sponsor. She kept asking me ‘why’, why was I angry with this person – well, I don’t like him, was my response. She again asked ‘why’ didn’t I like him – because he’s rude and self-centered; he gets on my nerves! And again she asked ‘why’ did he get on my nerves – this was a tough one because I had to dig down deep to uncover that answer; because I was trying to control my environment and everyone in it so that I could remain clean. I was scared that the actions of another would cause me to trip up and relapse. The truth is, I can not control other people, places, and things – only my reaction to them. They, or in this instance, his actions could only make me relapse if I let it. By coming face to face with my fear (root cause) it no longer had any power over me.
Saul had lost God’s anointing back in chapter 15 when he was told to annihilate the Amalekites and everything they have: “Now go and attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Don’t spare them, but kill men and women, infants and children, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys.” This was in retribution to how the Amalekites treated the children of Israel when they left Egypt, but Saul didn’t do what he was told: “Saul and the army spared Agag and the best sheep and cows, the fattened animals, the lambs, and all the best property. The army refused to claim them for God by destroying them.” Saul caved into peer pressure, he wanted the approval of man more than he wanted to obey God. This lead to him being displaced as king and losing the anointing. Compromise cost! Why did Saul disobey God? FEAR! Fear of being rejected by man.
Fear shows up in many different forms, and the enemy is cunning (the most cunning animal of the garden) by covering it up with emotions like anger, pride, jealousy, resentment, etc; but I implore you – dig down deep past the surface and get to the root of your problem! I’ve heard it said that the bible tells us 365 time to fear not, I’m not sure about that number but it’s there a bunch, and this is why God tells us not to fear. Fear opens the door to evil spirits and disobedience! Unchecked fear and the evil spirits it brings can make you do stupid stuff like try to kill David even when you know God’s anointing is on him. Crazy!
Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9