1. IN THE WILDERNESS OF ZIPH
a. Describe David’s attitude toward his predator. 1 Samuel 26:2, 7–16.
“When Saul was repeatedly placed in [David’s] power, and his followers would have killed him, David would not permit them to do so, although he was in continual fear of his own life, and was pursued like a wild beast by Saul.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 91.
b. Why was Saul so dangerous, even now? 1 Samuel 26:17–21.
“After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them. But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned. Again they speak evil, accusing and condemning in the bitterest manner the very ones to whom they made most humble confession. Satan can use such souls with far greater power after such a course has been pursued than he could before.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 662, 663.
2. THE EVIL OF ENVY
a. To what extent could Saul’s response to David’s mercy be trusted—and why? 1 Samuel 26:23–25; 27:1.
“This second instance of David’s respect for his sovereign’s life made a still deeper impression upon the mind of Saul and brought from him a more humble acknowledgement of his fault. He was astonished and subdued at the manifestation of such kindness. . . . But the son of Jesse had no hope that the king would long continue in this frame of mind.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 671, 672.
“[Saul] listened to every false witness, eagerly receiving anything that was detrimental to the character of David, hoping that he might find an excuse for manifesting his increasing envy and hatred of him who had been anointed to the throne of Israel. Every rumor was credited, no matter how inconsistent and irreconcilable it was with the former character and custom of David.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 1019.
b. Explain how the envy which spoiled Saul’s life is a common cause of wretchedness in many today. Proverbs 14:30 (last part); 27:4.
“It was envy that made Saul miserable and put the humble subject of his throne in jeopardy. What untold mischief has this evil trait of character worked in our world! . . . Envy is the offspring of pride, and if it is entertained in the heart, it will lead to hatred, and eventually to revenge and murder. Satan displayed his own character in exciting the fury of Saul against him who had never done him harm.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 651.
“Envy and jealousy are like two sisters who blend together in their workings. Envy will lead a man to desire some good which another possesses, and will urge him to use every means in his power to bring down and injure the character and reputation of one in whose place he desires to be. Falsehood, hearsays, and slanderous reports are circulated, and everything that can be made use of will be employed to place the envied man in an unfavorable light before the people. Jealousy leads a man to suspect another of seeking to deprive him of advantages and position. Saul had both envy and jealousy.”—The Signs of the Times, November 2, 1888.
3. SPEEDING DOWNHILL
a. Besides envy, name another characteristic of Saul to avoid. John 12:43.
“One great defect in the character of Saul was his love of approbation. This trait had had a controlling influence over his actions and thoughts; everything was marked by his desire for praise and self-exaltation. His standard of right and wrong was the low standard of popular applause. No man is safe who lives that he may please men, and does not seek first for the approbation of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 650.
b. What fate from the tragic experience of Saul should cause every God-fearing soul to take warning? Proverbs 26:24–27.
“It was not the man David, who had done him no harm, against whom the king was contending. He was in controversy with the King of heaven; for when Satan is permitted to control the mind that will not be ruled by Jehovah, he will lead it according to his will, until the man who is thus in his power becomes an efficient agent to carry out his designs. So bitter is the enmity of the great originator of sin against the purposes of God, so terrible is his power for evil, that when men disconnect from God, Satan influences them, and their minds are brought more and more into subjection, until they cast off the fear of God, and the respect of men, and become bold and avowed enemies of God and of His people.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 1019.
c. How did bitterness cherished in Saul work against himself and affect the whole nation? Psalm 52:2–5; Isaiah 3:12 (second half).
“What an example was Saul giving to the subjects of his kingdom in his desperate, unprovoked persecution of David! What a record he was making to be placed upon the pages of history for future generations! He sought to turn the full tide of the power of his kingdom into the channel of his own hatred in hunting down an innocent man. All this had a demoralizing influence upon Israel.”—Ibid.
4. UNVEILING THE ROOT
a. What is the real source of envy? Luke 4:5–8; Matthew 27:17, 18, 29–31.
“Christ’s betrayal, trial, and crucifixion were all planned by the fallen foe. His hatred, carried out in the death of the Son of God, placed Satan where his true diabolical character was revealed to all created intelligences that had not fallen through sin.
“The holy angels were horror-stricken that one who had been of their number could fall so far as to be capable of such cruelty.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 183.
b. Describe the enemy’s distinct tactics against us today. James 3:14–16.
“It is Satan’s work to tempt minds. He will insinuate his wily suggestions and stir up doubting, questioning, unbelief, and distrust of the words and acts of the one who stands under responsibilities and who is seeking to carry out the mind of God in his labors. It is the special purpose of Satan to pour upon and around the servants of God’s choice, troubles, perplexities, and opposition, so that they will be hindered in their work and, if possible, discouraged. Jealousies, strife, and evil surmising will counteract, in a great measure, the very best efforts that God’s servants, appointed to a special work, may be able to put forth.
“Satan’s plan is to drive them from the post of duty by working through agents. All whom he can excite to distrust and suspicion he will use as his instruments. . . . There is in the nature of man, when not under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, a disposition to envy, jealousy, and cruel distrust, which, if not subdued, will lead to a desire to undermine and tear down others, while selfish spirits will seek to build themselves up upon their ruins.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 343.
“Perilous times are upon us. In the world, destruction and violence are increasing. In the church, man power is gaining the ascendancy; those who have been chosen to occupy positions of trust think it is their prerogative to rule.
“Men whom the Lord calls to important positions in His work are to cultivate a humble dependence upon Him. They are not to seek to embrace too much authority; for God has not called them to a work of ruling, but to plan and counsel with their fellow laborers. Every worker alike is to hold himself amenable to the requirements and instructions of God.”—Ibid., vol.9, p. 270.
5. HOPE AMID THE STORM
a. In contrast to Saul, how can we be inspired by the attitude of David in the wilderness, even in his most disheartening times? Psalms 27:1–3; 59:1–3, 17.
“David composed many of the psalms in the wilderness, to which he was compelled to flee for safety. . . . While David was thus passing through severe trials and hardships, he manifested an unwavering trust in God, and was especially imbued with His Spirit as he composed his songs which recount his dangers and deliverances, ascribing praise and glory to God, his merciful preserver. In these psalms is seen a spirit of fervor, devotion and holiness.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 386, 387.
b. What hope encouraged David’s heart in the cave—and how can this hope be reflected in our life as well? Psalms 142:1–7; 31:23, 24.
“You need not be surprised if everything in the journey heavenward is not pleasant. . . . Go forth daily, expressing the prayer of David, ‘Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.’ All the paths of life are beset with peril, but we are safe if we follow where the Master leads the way, trusting the One whose voice we hear saying, ‘Follow me.’ ”—The SDA Bible Commentary, [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1143.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can I cultivate a spirit like David’s toward those who may hate me?
2. How is jealousy different from envy—and why must I avoid either one?
3. What drove Saul to resort to such determination to destroy his rival?
4. Describe how Satan uses envy as a weapon against God’s people today.
5. Just as God did for David in the cave, how has He often comforted me?