Writing about King Saul has been scary! He started out so well! He seemed so secure and teachable. But as he picked up his title and his power, things changed.
The trouble is he didn’t know it. It was a combination of parental modeling, not feeling good enough, and wanting to be what the people wanted and expected. He became addicted to approval and praise! By the time David comes along and people praise him, he becomes insanely jealous–literally.
Sometimes this happens because you don’t get approval, but more often now it is happening because you grow up on praise and become addicted to it!
Addiction to praise ruined his life. And I am concerned for our children today for this same reason. And yet, all of us somehow get initiated into reality, unless we have a psychotic break. Reality begins to register about seven–we aren’t the center of the universe–or even every relationship. By twelve we realize we aren’t all that we thought, and it continues to grow, unless a personality disorder keeps us stuck.
Life has many “correctors”–little things or big things that jolt self-image. One of Saul’s was God interrupting and stopping a murderous mission. He’d sent three groups of soldiers to kill his rival (only in his mind), and finally went himself because three times God had interfered with his plan. So he was going to do the job himself! Why didn’t he get a clue? David is with Samuel at his school of the prophets.
But guess what! God took over to protect David, AND to give Saul a chance to wake up and course correct. He had previously had his own experience of being taken over into bliss by God’s Spirit after he was anointed. So he remembered, and should have snapped to reality when it happened to his soldiers. But he didn’t. And then it happened to him again!
Wow! He got to see how loved he was! He thought God had rejected him, and God took the opportunity to show him that while he was rejected as king of Israel, he was not rejected as a person. He was still very much loved and valued. Imagine laying in God’s presence for 24 hours! What a trip that would be! Talk about blissed out! That would be over the top!
But not for him. He comes out of it and goes right back. David who was always trusting and forgiving, has come to the realization that he could count on Saul’s jealousy to make him lose his mind. So he takes the opportunity to run.
But what I want to know is how could Saul be that crazy? He had experienced God’s goodness, love and help. Why didn’t he connect the dots?
His mind was stuck in a well-worn track. It would have taken him choosing to think differently. He had done it once when Jonathan (his son) had confronted him over David’s innocence and his unfounded fear. But he didn’t continue to choose and deal with his need for approval or addiction to praise. He needed a good therapist! He had David’s music therapy which worked until Satan started setting up causes for jealousy and fear, then he’d lose his mind in emotion again.
The application for us? When God demotes you (or tests you) don’t take it personally, you are still loved. Lean in and learn what you need to learn. You could go crazy and lose your reason. If you lose a job, a house, or other stuff, you can always get stuff. If you lose God, you lose you, and everything else.