THE EVIL EYE (1 SAMUEL 18)
The master-disciple or teacher-student relationship in the Chinese society is a hierarchical one. The teacher is the superior and the student is the subordinate. A prominent senior pastor twenty years older than me still calls me teacher after he has audited just one of my preaching classes! To save each other embarrassment, I would say, “You’re just an audit!”
For centuries the kungfu master, the god of chef and the divine physician do not teach their students everything they know for fear that one day the students’ skills, knowledge and expertise might top, overtake and surpass the teacher himself. The Chinese sayings include (1) the student triumph over his master, (2) the back waves pushing the front waves, and (3) the color green that comes from blue overpowering the color blue.
Every teacher is afraid that his students might draw the plank after they have crossed the bridge. For example, a wise kungfu teacher withholds a trick or two from the disobedient student that can throw him for a loop, bring him to his knees or put him in his place. Rare is the master that graciously transfers the entirety of his secret manuscripts, fighting techniques and martial arts school to his student. A benevolent teacher might do it if the student marries his daughter. Often, if the teacher cannot pass the killer blow to his children, he would rather take it to the grave than to benefit those outside the family.
Saul the king was jealous of David, the man who would be king, and he did all that was in his power to stop David from making his mark, taking his place and gaining the respect, the loyalty and the affection of the people. However, the more he tried, the more popular David became.
Shakespeare called jealousy a “green-eyed monster.” The Germans associate pale with jealousy, the Swedes become “black-sick” with jealousy and the Chinese go red with jealousy. The word jealous comes from the word zeal. A jealous person guards everything with excessive zeal, whether it is his status, his secret or his success. The jealous person is afraid that someone else is going to steal something from him or her (Stories behind words 21).
Why is jealousy negative, unfulfilling and self-defeating?
People Become Defensive When They Are Jealous
5 Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well. 6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. 7 As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” 8 Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (1 Sam 18:5-9)
A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist. When he arrived, he was given an audience by the sensei. “What do you want from me?” the master asked. “I wish to be your student and become the finest karateka in the land,” the boy replied. “How long must I study?”
“Ten years at least,” the master answered. “Ten years is a long time,” said the boy. “What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?”
“Twenty years,” replied the master. “Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?”
“Thirty years,” was master’s reply. “How is it each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?” the boy asked.
“The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.” (Bits and Pieces 1/2/97, from “Zen in the Martial Arts” by Joe Hyams & Joseph Cardillo)
A sports saying suggests, “A mad player is a bad player.”
The rise of David and opposition of Saul was literally an eye-opener in the text. Jewish eyes were smiling on David – the word “pleased” (v 5) is the Hebrew noun for “sight,” but Saul watched David as if his life depended on it – he, too, kept a jealous eye on David (v 9). The NIV used the word “eye” as a noun, but the Hebrew text recorded it as a verb: “Saul eyed David from that day on.” This is the only time, the first and last time the eye is used as a verb in the Bible. Saul was probably the most jealous biblical character. His jealousy knew no bounds and had no limits.