Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, by Witness Lee

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In 18:6-9 we see Saul’s envy of David.

A. David’s Return from Striking the Philistines

Saul became envious of David after David’s return from striking the Philistines (v. 6a).

B. The Women’s Welcome and Praise

As David returned from striking the Philistines, the women came out of all the towns of Israel to meet Saul and they said, "Saul has stricken down his thousands;/But David, his ten thousands" (v. 7). When Saul heard this praise, he was displeased and said, "They ascribe ten thousands to David, but to me they ascribe only thousands. And what more can he have except the kingdom? So Saul eyed David from that day on" (vv. 8-9). Saul was angry and was envious of David.

There are many "Sauls" in the church life today. We may become envious when others are approved and we are not. For example, suppose you share in a meeting and hardly anyone says amen. Then someone else shares, and he receives many amens. You may say to yourself, "Why were so many amens spoken to him and so few to me?" If you say this, you are today’s Saul.

Let us take as another illustration of the Sauls in the church life the matter of appointing elders. In appointing elders we must be fair and pure, and we must not be political. Suppose that in a particular church five brothers are taking the lead, but thus far no one has been officially appointed to be an elder. Eventually, only three of these brothers are appointed. The other two are very good brothers, but they do not have the capacity to be elders. These two may be stumbled and wonder why the other three were appointed to be elders and they were not. These two brothers might say, "The five of us have been laboring together to take care of the church, but we two have been set aside. Why were the others appointed to be elders and we were not?" These brothers need to receive grace in order to put their flesh on the cross. Otherwise, they may become cold to the church and withdraw, no longer continuing faithfully in the church life.

The hardships in the church life are related to the flesh. All the flesh in the church life needs to be diminished. Galatians 5:17 says, "The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." In the whole universe there is only one war—the war between man and God. The man warring against God is the flesh. The flesh wars against God as the Spirit, and God who is the Spirit is warring against our flesh. Our flesh is the real enemy of God. However, Galatians 5 not only speaks of this war but also says, "They who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts" (v. 24). Christ has crucified the flesh, and now we must apply this to ourselves.

David was very different from Saul. David knew only to behave and to have his being according to God’s heart. He had no feeling for himself. Rather, he knew only to labor and conduct himself for God’s people and God’s kingdom.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)