The Book of Proverbs states, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30). “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 37:30). “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Finally, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissensions among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Peninnah was one such woman full of jealousy and covetousness.
1 Samuel describes a woman in sorrow. Grief and tears engulf this woman’s life as she yearns yearly for a baby. Hannah has the love of her husband, Elkanah, but has yet to provide him an heir. Taking another woman as concubine, pain grips Hannah further as she succumbs to witness Peninnah’s pregnancy.
Feeling the rejection from Elkanah and used for breeding purposes only, Peninnah begins “vexing” Hannah, for jealousy has rotten her bones desiring the affection of her husband. This story is not too far off from the slave Hagar and her mistress Sarai. Sarai, barren and raked with sadness, persuaded Abram to sleep with her slave Hagar. Low and behold, a baby is born. Haughty glances, crooked smiles, and teases seethe from these two women. Peninnah and Hagar, both desire the father’s affection, receive nothing in return but rejection, turn their jealousy into productive haughtiness. Oh I am sure those pregnancies where flaunted in front of the “loved” barren wives. “My back hurts today. Would you rub my swollen feet?” “I will let you hold the baby when he is born.”
Jealousy can turn to hatred.
Hatred into harmful actions and words; words can absolutely cut to the core of a barren woman. Does the spirit of jealousy have a stronghold in your life? Do you covet what you see another woman has? Do you want or mimic someone who you think has it all? Do you rush out to buy the latest fashion; unable to see another beat you to the punch? Do you gossip and tear down another friend who you secretly desire to be like? Do you covet another’s husband who seems to be that doting, caring, and loving man you deserve? Careful woman, those jealous actions, rages, and desires may turn your heart callous to the Lord.
In Philippians 4:11-13, the Apostle Paul writes to Philippi encouraging the Christians, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
I have prayed these versus in my own life. I have dreams, ambitions, and desires just like the next woman. I will be completely transparent for you. I too have sat wondering why some are blessed and I am not. I have prayed to the Lord, “Lord, I pray more than Suzy Christian, why does she get to do __________?” “Lord, I know more of the Bible than Jane Doe Christian, why does she get___________?” “Lord, we tithe our money and _____________ doesn’t! Why are they continually blessed financially and we are not?” “Lord, we worked so hard for ________, why do I have to share with __________?” “Lord, I have been praying for a husband and _____________ gets that amazing man! She doesn’t deserve him; I do!”
If we are truly honest, what response do you think God’s would be to these questions? I know He would be thrilled with your honesty in coming to Him in prayer, but I can tell you His answer to me when I complained to Him. Luke 18:9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable, ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even men like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
That is a powerful parable, one in which God has spoken to my spirit many times. If I am honest in my prayers to God, I sure want Him to be honest in response. At times it is painful to hear that I have a Pharisee attitude or I am not “Phar – u – see” . The Lord continues to humble me, as challenging as it may be. I love the verse from Isaiah 48:17, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
I have prayed to the Lord, “If money will make we walk away, I do not want it. If worldly “stuff” will make me distant from You, then do not allow me to have it. If my flesh is enticed with worldly acknowledgement and applause, then keep me safe in the cleft of the Rock! I choose God every time. I pray your heart desire the same as the Apostle Paul who wrote to Philippi. I want to be content. I know I will not be in this same situation next year, in five years, or maybe even six months. The key to happiness is found in a thankful heart and trusting God that He knows best for you. Let’s pray.
Let us pray out loud and CONFESS the Word of the Living God; a prayer for jealousy
Remind me to not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will die away. I will trust in the Lord and do good; I choose to dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. I will delight in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart, which are constantly seeking to glorify Him.
I will commit my way to You Lord, trusting You with the plan and purpose for my life. I know You will make Your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of Your cause like the noonday sun. I will be still and wait patiently on the Lord. I will not be jealousy or covet another woman who succeeds in her ways or when she may carry out worldly schemes.
I choose to refrain from anger and turn from wrath when I do not get what I want. I choose to be like Christ and not like these worldly women, for I know those who hope in Christ will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. I know the Lord delights in a woman’s way, He makes her way firm; I may stumble and backslide, but will not fall for the Lord will uphold me with His hands.
I will turn from jealousy and covetousness, do good, and dwell in the land forever; For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithfulness. I praise the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness. I praise the Lord for showing me His ways, and I praise the Lord who graciously forgives me everyday. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, amen. Adapted from Psalm 37