The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Envy



The Green-Eyed Monster


A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30


Envy rots the bones. The Hebrew literally means “envy makes the bones disintegrate.” Once again, Solomon is telling us that there is a strong connection between the spiritual and the physical. The attitude of the heart has a direct impact on your physical well-being or lack thereof. If your heart is at peace, it gives life to the body. Envy causes the bones of the body to disintegrate.

King Saul is Exhibit A of a man whose life was de­stroyed by envy. You’ll remember the little ditty that made Saul so angry when he realized that David had be­come more popular than he. As the women welcomed their returning heroes, they sang, “Saul has slain his thou­sands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). When Saul heard that, his anger burned within him. Jeal­ousy drove him to attempt to murder David. Envy ate away at his insides until it finally destroyed him and his whole family.

If you read 1 Samuel 10-26, you will discover some amazing things about Saul.


  • He was in many respects a gifted man.
  • He was tall and handsome.
  • He was a natural leader of men.
  • He was skillful in battle.
  • He was chosen by God to be the first king of Israel.


In many ways he had all the natural attributes for suc­cess-plus he had the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. Yet we remember him as a failure because of the way his life ended. There were many contributing factors, but in the end his anger destroyed his life. After it became clear that David would replace him as king, Saul’s heart was so blinded by rage that he could think of only one thing- killing David. So he hunted David as he would a wild animal, chasing him into the Judean desert, tracking him to a cave by the Dead Sea, a place called En Gedi. There David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe when he actually could have killed him. David meant it as a sign of mercy, but Saul continued to hunt him down. Even though Saul knew that David would be the next king, his hatred so consumed him that he tried to kill him anyway. In the end, Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. The Philistines cut off his head, put his armor in a pagan temple, and fastened his headless corpse to the wall of Beth Shan. It was an igno­minious end for a man with the seeds of greatness in him. Saul had many flaws, but it was his envy that finally de­stroyed him.

There are people who suffer deeply, both physically and spiritually, because they will not forgive. Envy rots the bones. Anger rots the bones. Unforgiveness rots the bones. Bitterness rots the bones. Until you do something about your anger and bitterness, you’re going to be sick, for the Bible says it will happen that way-it will literally rot your bones.

The lesson is clear: Don’t let this happen to you!


Lord God, when I am tempted to envy, remind me that the only thing that matters is what You think of me. Amen.


Have you ever known anyone like Saul, whose life was destroyed by envy and jealousy?

Whom do you envy, if only just a tiny bit? Why? What does that teach you about yourself?  
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