Today's devotion from 1 Samuel 18.
David's rise through the ranks is meteoric in speed and splendor, and Saul has taken notice. Not only do the people love him (their songs initially stir the jealousy), but Saul's own children, particularly Jonathan and Michal, love him. Yet, Saul is unsettled with David. David has done nothing wrong. He serves Saul well, is humble, and completely loyal. He has been anointed as the next king, but to this point has not appeared to take that promise too seriously. He is simply content to be David. He just lives in this moment.
Saul can't live in the moment. He lives with the memory of his exchange with Samuel recorded in chapter 15. Just as his pleading outstretched hand had torn Samuel's garment, God had ripped the kingdom away from him. He sees the rebellion in his life. He sees the darkness that is where God's blessing once had been. He sees the love of the people for David. He sees his own children's affection for David. He sees and knows.
Many times people read this story arc from the perspective of David. This is because we associate ourselves with David. After all, who wants to be Saul? Who sees themselves as being replaced in God's plan? Who identifies with the perceived villain? Ah, but is Saul a villain? We immediately say yes, but what is his villainy? He disobeyed God. Have not we, each and every one of us, done the same at some point in our lives? If that makes one a villain, then aren't we all?
No. The villainy of Saul in this story arc is his continued strife with God as he clings to power and place. He can't let go. Even though Samuel has told him, even though God's Spirit has left him, even though he sees and knows that the Lord is with David, he refused to submit and surrender. That refusal makes him the antagonist to God's design because of jealousy.
Today there are Christians who are clinging to power or preference instead of God's plan. There is jealousy amid the family of God. We talk so much about surrendering to God's will when it means assuming responsibility, but what about surrender when it means giving it away? Sometimes we just need to see what God is doing and know that it is not for us, but some other.