I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
1 Samuel 18:6-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.[a] 7 And the women sang to one another as they made merry,
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”
8 Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 So Saul eyed David from that day on.
Saul Tries to Kill David
10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11 and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army. 14 David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Young David was a shepherd who was also a soldier. He was a harpist, whose music could tame the savage beast. He was a hero and a popular peasant who had overcome great adversity. People were singing his praises and comparing him to King Saul and Saul was not looking so good anymore.
Saul is consumed, eaten up, with envy. He couldn’t get the refrain out of his head: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” It is that envy that is ultimately his undoing. Saul is the poster child of how destructive envy is. His story is our cautionary tale.
Envy is deadly, silent, and pretty much universal. Like some progressive eye disease, it destroys our eyesight. It can grow like weeds overtaking healthy plants in a garden.
So, what would have made the difference for Saul and what makes the difference for us? I have a coupld of thoughts about this. First of all, acknowledge the gifts and graces God has given you and who God created you uniquely to be.
A squirrel once said to a mountain, “You may carry a forest on your back, but you can’t store whole forests as acorns like I can.” Now there’s a healthy self-understanding!
There is a tale of a Chassidic rabbi named Rabbi Zusya. Zusya was a timid man, a man who lived a humble life.
One day Rabbi Zusya stood before his congregation and he said, “When I die and have to present myself before the celestial tribunal, they will not ask me, ‘Zusya why were you not Moses?’ because I would say ‘Moses was prophet and I am not.’
“They will not say ‘Zusya, why were you not Jeremiah?’ for I would say ‘Jeremiah was a writer, and I am not.’
“And they will not say ‘Why were you not Rabbi Akiba?’ for I would tell them, ‘Rabbi Akiba was a great teacher and scholar and I am not.’
“But then they will say ‘Zusya why were you not Zusya?’ and to this I will have no answer.” [https://www.lollydaskal.com/leadership/why-were-you-not/]
The other antidote to envy is gratitude. There is an old hymn that says, “Count your blessings, count them one by one.” Learn to be grateful for others. Learn to give thanks for the blessings you have. Be grateful that God has blessed you in many ways that you may take for granted. Remember that others bear burdens that you will never know, just as others don’t know the burdens you bear.
You are probably familiar with the sell-known “Prayer of St. Francis.” But, you may not be familiar with another prayer of St. Francis. I invite you to pray it now:
Our Father, each day is a little life, each night a tiny death; help us to live with faith and hope and love. Lift our duty above drudgery; let not our strength fail, or the vision fade, in the heat and burden of the day. O God, make us patient and pitiful one with another in the fret and jar of life, remembering that each fights a hard fight and walks a lonely way. Forgive us, Lord, if we hurt our fellow souls; teach us a gentler tone, a sweeter charity of words, and a more healing touch. Sustain us, O God, when we must face sorrow; give us courage for the day and hope for the morrow. Day unto day may we lay hold of thy hand and look up into thy face, whatever befall, until our work is finished and the day is done. Amen. [Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226]
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “What Gift Can We Bring?”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
“What Gift Can We Bring?”
What gift can we bring, what present, what token?
What words can convey it, the joy of this day?
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
what song can we offer in honor and praise?
Give thanks for the past, for those who had vision,
who planted and watered so dreams could come true.
Give thanks for the now, for study, for worship,
for mission that bids us turn prayer into deed.
This gift we now bring, this present, this token,
these words can convey it, the joy of this day!
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
this song we now offer in honor and praise!
Give thanks for tomorrow, full of surprises,
for knowing whatever tomorrow may bring,
we’re given God’s word that always, forever,
we rest in God’s keeping and live in God’s love.