Anxiety tends to warp our thinking. Maybe that statement seems a bit harsh. After all, everyone is anxious at some time or another. Anxiety is part and parcel of the human experience; it is something we all have in common. However, when anxiety takes root in the heart it bears the fruit of unholy fear. Today’s Old Testament story illustrates the insecurity and irrationality that an unchecked anxious heart can produce.
King Saul was jealous of David’s success in battle. Behind Saul’s anxiety was the concern that David was in the limelight. It made Saul angry that David was getting all the attention. Since he was the one in charge, Saul kept putting David in situations where it seemed that he would certainly fail. But instead of failure, David had wild success in everything he did. The text makes it clear that this was because “the LORD was with him.” This made Saul even more anxious and afraid to the degree that he had malevolent motives behind everything he did toward David. Even though it might not have looked evil on the outside, in reality the interior life of Saul was a mess, and it made him stupid.
When Saul saw and knew that God was with David, it only reinforced his fear and led him down a dark path. In contrast to Saul, David had a character developed in the lonely place of the pasture. Genuine integrity is always forged in the secret place where no one is looking. If we are only concerned for outward performance and/or perfectionism, all kinds of anxieties can develop and warp our sense of reality. But if we pay attention to the inner person and allow God to create a deep faith within, then we can stand strong even when there are those who have ill will against us.
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.