Striving for Peer Approval (and Stardom), King Saul Falls from his ‘High Horse’
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Envy and strife cause so much needless folly and tragic trouble.
Seeking Popularity and Vainglory Leads to Foolish Strivings
Haughty Saul, atop his “high hoss”,
Was so proud, of how he was “boss”;
David’s fans were so zealous,
That Saul became jealous —
Saul’s envy led to his own loss.
And the women answered one another, as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his 1000s, and David his 10,000s. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he [i.e., Saul] said, They have ascribed unto David 10,000s, and to me they have ascribed but 1000s; and what can he have more but the kingdom? (Quoting 1st Samuel 18:7-8 — see also, accord, 1st Samuel 21:11 & 1st Samuel 29:5)
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:16)
Some things don’t change all that much – certainly it is a timeless truth that “envy and strife” produce “confusion” and all kinds of trouble” (James 3:16). Even nowadays, in plain view, we see many examples of this tragic-but-true reality. And yet how ironic it is that David was so much more qualified to lead than Saul, his detractor, was. Although Saul seems, from outward appearances to be “head and shoulders” above his “peers” (an early example of how “peer review” is often an unreliable “veneer review”), it was David whom God recognized as qualified for carrying the responsibility of leadership (compare 1st Samuel 9:2 with 1st Samuel 16:7). Picking the flashy crowd-pleaser for leadership may seem like a “natural selection” (pardon the pun), but God makes intelligent and purposeful selections, based on His brilliant wisdom and moral judgment.
If we really understand our uniqueness as God’s creatures we won’t quickly fall for competitive strife and jealousy, trying to one-up someone else whose God-given assignments in life don’t belong to us anyway. Appreciating our own uniqueness, as God’s created and redeemed children, can help us to enjoy a life accented by gratitude and contentment.(1)
Peer pressure, whether it comes from singing “fans” or so-called “peer review”(2), is anchored in seeking to please other humans to gain “fame” and “popularity”, i.e., the approval of their peers.(3) But that motive clashes with prioritizing God’s honor and approval (see John 5:44 & Ephesians 6:6).
(1) See “Of Grackles and Gratitude”, Acts & Facts, 41(7):8-10 (July AD2012), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/valuing-gods-variety/ — and “Valuing God’s Variety”, Acts & Facts, 42(9):8-10 (Sept. AD2012), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/grackles-gratitude .
(2) “Forensic Science Frustrated by ‘Peer Review'”, Acts & Facts, 44(2):18 (February AD2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/forensic-science-frustrated-by-peer/ .
(3) See also “Saul, a Tall Man, Short on Faith”, my earlier limerick blogpost posted at https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/saul-a-tall-man-short-on-faith/ .