Bitterness - 1 Samuel 18:5:19
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
Jonathan and David became like-minded friends and received strength and comfort from each other. However, Jonathan’s father, Saul became filled with bitterness. Bitterness affects eating, marriages, family life, careers, health and our very lives. None of us are immune to the devastation and destruction of bitterness. Hebrews 12:15: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” This root begins small, but if fed and given time will take over our lives so that we blame God. We may say we believe He is sovereign, but question why He has permitted difficulties in our lives. Following are some of the results of bitterness.
Bitterness creates animosity. Verses 5-8: “And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?” Saul was jealous of the praise given to David when he returned from battling the Philistines. He wanted the praise for himself and feared the loss of his throne. He feared the people would love David and turn against him. Even though David had proven himself trustworthy and was willing to risk his life in battle, Saul became very angry at the responses from the people toward David.
Bitterness causes mistrust. Verse 9: “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.” Saul’s anger and mistrust grew, and he was determined to get David. He wanted David dead! Even though David had proved his loyalty, Saul’s unhappiness caused him to continue looking for reasons and ways to get rid of him. The Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). Bitterness leaves no place for love or objectivity.
Bitterness opens the door for a satanic attack. Verse 10a: “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul.” Unbelievers can be indwelt and possessed by Satan and pushed by him to do evil. Believers can be oppressed by Satan but not indwelt, because believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Satan can oppress and disturb believers with discouragement and other heart issues. Beware of allowing pride, jealousy, anger, or wrath in your life, which opens a door for Satan to gain a foothold. Allowing him to gain any foothold affects our relationships at home, at work, and with God. This robs us of joy and the ability to focus, give praise to God, and gain victory over Satan’s attempt to destroy us.
Bitterness leads to violent action. Verses 10b-11: “And he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.” David attempted to soothe Saul with his harp. Saul attempted twice to smite him, but David escaped. Saul refused to let go of his anger, jealousy, and wrath. Do not think you are immune or beyond violent behavior. When one is overtaken with a deep bitterness, they are pushed to react in ways that they would not normally behave. Remember, sin is not rational.
Bitterness prompts the manipulation of others. Verses 12-16: “And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him. Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.” Saul feared David. He knew the Lord had departed from him and was with David. Instead of fighting back, how should you react when you are the object of someone’s bitterness and you cannot please them? Be like David. Verse 14: “David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.” This caused Saul to even change his tactics. Saul was afraid of David’s popularity, so he sought another way to try to get rid of him. He offered David his elder daughter, Merab, in marriage. That was after sending him off to war against the Philistines. He hoped David would be killed in battle, but David was victorious. Roots of bitterness are hard to pull out. Have you ever tried to pull roots out of dry ground?
Bitterness justifies the breaking of promises. Verses 17-18: “And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord’s battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?” While David was away battling the Philistines, Saul gave Merab in marriage to another man. He saw Michal, his other daughter, wanted to marry David. He believed she would be a snare to David and offered her to him, if he would go again to war against the Philistines and bring back 200 foreskins. It is a terrible thing when your bitterness allows you to use your children to gain advantage over another.
Bitterness destroys families. Verse 19: “But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.” David was denied marriage to Merab. Saul was willing to risk David’s life. Saul continued to be his enemy.
Bitterness causes more than your soul can bear. The warning stands from Hebrews 12:15: “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” There is hope. Forgiveness is a choice, and Scripture offers the cure. Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice (evil attitude); and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Life is too short. If you are harboring bitterness in your life, deal with it. Do not be like Saul who wasted twenty years of missed opportunities for a good life to pursue David.