"And the women responded as they laughed and frolicked, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.' And Saul was very angry, for the saying displeased him..and Saul jealously eyed David from that day forward."
I Samuel 18: 7-9, Amplified Bible
"The Calamity of Comparison"
"To jealousy, nothing is more frightful than laughter."
Have I ever been compared to another person and found that it made me extremely jealous?
How did I handle my jealous feelings in the situation?
"In jealousy there is more self-love than love."
Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
"Kind words bring no blisters on the tongue that speaks them, nor on the ear which hears them."
Charles H. Spurgeon
It is one of the most famous photographs ever taken. The date was August 14, 1945, V-J Day. In Times Square, New York City, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt caught, with a click of his camera a reflection of the celebration as an American sailor kissed a young woman in a white dress.
Rejoicing after the end of a successful war is a tradition that isn't new to countries. Whether it's an American ticker-tape parade or a celebration in the streets of any city, town or village in the world, when battles are over, and the victors arrive home, for those who survived, there's joy to be had.
In our text today, we find that just like the surrounding Canaanite nations, the Israelites began to develop their own forms of lauding their victories. For Saul and David, the celebration was led by women, whom the Bible says, were "laughing" and "frolicking" (playful, carefree, merriment).
For a moment imagine the scene as women poured into the streets hailing the success of the men-folk with these words: "Saul has killed his thousands, but David has done better! He's killed his ten thousands."
In a moment when everyone should have been thankful the battle was over, instead we find a new battle erupted. A battle, that in my opinion, has done more to harm friendships, families, churches and even the world and it is this - the battle of comparing - which in our text has women, God's daughters no less, throwing gasoline on an explosive situation and setting a blaze which ended up blowing out-of-control.
The word comparison means to "contrast" or to "stack up against." Unfortunately, this is exactly what the women of Israel chose to do. While they may not have known that the green-eyed monster of jealousy was living within the palace walls of King Saul, their choice to compare Saul's battle victories to David's sent a wave of fury over Saul, to the point he wanted to murder David.
All too often, without knowing all the details that go on in relationships, we can be just like these happy, frolicking women and out of our mouths can come a statement like, "Well look here Susan, your sister Mary got straight A's, you only got B's. Too bad you aren't doing as well as Mary." It is this kind of comparative talk which frequently makes its way into family relationships. Instead of individuals being admired and honored for their own unique abilities and talents, they are contrasted with others, be it siblings or friends.
But our homes are not the only places where the "Comparison Game" is played. It also happens in church life when one pastor moves on and a new pastor is hired. This can be especially disastrous if the previous pastor was greatly loved and admired. I've watched as pastors who have had to live under the burden of comparison have wilted to the ground in dismay, unable to live up to expectations which may not have been accurate in the first place.
This story in I Samuel 18 is one we should not pass over lightly. We are told David was young and good-looking, an impressive warrior with a sensitive side who wrote poetry. Now girls, this sounds like a very appealing man. And the women responded to his charm by showering him with their praise and flattery. While there's nothing wrong with giving accolades where and when they are due, when we begin to stack one person up against another, especially our children or husbands, we do so at our own peril.
Many years ago, I was in a Bible study group with a number of girlfriends, all of whom I knew very well. As frequently happens when we girls get together, the topic of boyfriends and husbands came up. It didn't take long before the comparison game began. One girl turned to another and said, "Boy, I'd trade in my clunker husband for yours any day." Away she went contrasting the two men. What she didn't know was that the man she was claiming to be so perfect was far from it and within months, her perceived "Mr. Wonderful" had left his wife for a young woman he had been running around with for over a year. One day, when we were together, I said to her, "How does your hubby look now?" And with a twinkle in her eye she laughingly said, "Like a diamond." Then she made this very telling statement, "I'll never compare my husband to another man again. I'm thankful for who he is." We can all take a lesson from her words.
Let's remember, the comparison game is not one we should play with the lives of those whom we love. We need to appreciate each person in our life the way God appreciates each of His children - for the unique beauty the Creator has put in every one of us.
"Kind words produce their own image in men's (and women's) souls; and a beautiful image it is…we have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used."
" A little more kindness
and a little less creed,
A little more giving
and a little less greed;
A little more smile
and a little less frown,
A little less kicking a man
when he's down;
A little more ‘we'
and a little less ‘I,'
A little more laugh
and a little less cry;
A few more flowers
on the pathway of life,
And fewer on graves
at the end of the strife."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.