Daily D – 1 Samuel 24:16-17
When David finished saying these things to him, Saul replied, “Is that your voice, David my son?” Then Saul wept aloud and said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have done what is good to me though I have done what is evil to you.”
1 SAMUEL 24:16-17 (CSB)
The final word of a short story by Jeffrey Archer is superior. The whole story is about one woman’s observation of another. The other woman is her ex-husband’s new wife. She compares and contrasts herself with this other woman. She notes the similarities and differences. She loathes her. In the end, she cannot help but notice the other woman is her superior.
Don’t you hate it when someone is better than you at what you thought you were really good at? For example, the last sentence could be written differently, superior to how it is styled and phrased here. How would Hemingway say it? Or Tolkein, Lewis, or Williams?
Here is one of life’s harshest lessons: There is always someone better than you at whatever you do where you consider yourself among the best. There are two opposite postures we can take to this reality. First and best, we can appreciate the ability and performance of our superior. We can applaud this person and learn from him or her.
Second and worst, we can envy this person and seek to do him or her harm. Unfortunately for David, this is the path Saul chose regarding his son-in-law the giant killer. David was better than Saul. Saul saw it when Goliath fell. He heard it when the women praised David more than they did him. He let it grate at him until his envy and jealousy led him to try again and again and again to kill David.
Several chapters in this section of 1 Samuel are dedicated to tracing Saul’s pursuit of David from one place to another, always and ever with murderous intent. In a moment of serious vulnerability, David once again proved his superiority. David had an opportunity for an easy kill. He refused to take vengeance on his bloodthirsty father-in-law. Saul finally confessed: “You are more righteous than I, for you have done what is good to me though I have done what is evil to you.”
One thing too few people are good at is telling other people what they are good at. Get good at noticing and declaring the superiority of others.
Another important life lesson is this: You cannot build yourself up by putting others down. You can build up others by declaring their superiority. You can build up yourself by learning from those who are superior.
I will look for superiority in others so that I may esteem them appropriately and thereby improve myself.
Our Father, deliver me from envy and jealousy. Empower me to acknowledge and to celebrate the superiority of others. Give me the humility to learn from the excellence I see in others. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”