Many times I've read this story of David & Jonathon's friendship and considered how awkward it must have been to know that your father hated, envied, and wanted to kill your best friend. And the more I read this story the thing that painfully stands out to me is the all-consuming power of Saul's jealousy and bitterness.
Much of the language used in the Old Testament confuses us at times ("a tormenting spirit came over Saul", "the Lord had left him and was now with David", Saul "began to prophesy"). I think it is vital that we get the big picture here - that we don't miss the real issue. Repeatedly, at every turn and crossroad, Saul chose to hang on to his jealousy and bitterness. His life was consumed with pride and fear. These are not characteristics of a man after the heart of God.
But as I'm reading this story once more this morning, I began to be puzzled by the fact that Saul, on his way to hunt down David and destroy him, falls to the ground and begins to prophesy. Again, I know we don't have even an ounce of understanding as to all that it meant to prophesy at this time, but I think there is possibly a very simple parallel for us to learn from.
Could it be this was God giving Saul this one last and final chance? Could this have been the Lord's way of saying, "Saul, I'm not finished with you. If you'll turn back to me, I can restore you. I can use you." Was this Saul's last shot at allowing God to break his chains? If it was, he wasn't paying attention.
I think that God sends these messages to His people all the time - "Wake up! Your bitterness is eating you alive and you don't even know it. You're destroying yourself and my Body. Turn back. Lay it on me and leave it there."
This past Sunday I had an encounter with someone who was letting me know what it was that was keeping them from worshipping - what it was that they just couldn't stand anymore. It broke my heart because even though this person's complaint/issue may have been something to consider, it was just a mild symptom of the disease rotting inside them. Bitterness. And solving and attending to every issue on this person's list would not have healed the wound. Why? Because the deepest wound causing this infection is self-inflicted.
If we don't face this disease and hunt it down in our heart before it metastisizes, it will eat us alive. And just like Saul, we'll wind up falling on our own sword.
I've already made the decision: it's not going to end that way for me!