Who’s the Villain?

Who's the Villain (CaD 1 Sam 26) Wayfarer

Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’
1 Samuel 26:19 (NIV)

This past week Wendy and I have been working remotely from the lake. We finished watching all of the Marvel movies in their chronological order within the Marvel Universe which was a lot of fun. I’d forgotten how good Avengers Endgame was as all the Avengers arrived to defeat the evil Thanos and his minions.

Great stories need great villains. Thanos hadn’t arrived on the scene when the American Film Institute celebrated its 100th anniversary by listing the 100 top movie heroes and villains. I wonder where they’d have put Thanos in the list. Here are their top five:

  1. Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs
  2. Norman Bates, Psycho
  3. Darth Vader, Star Wars
  4. Wicked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz
  5. Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One of my favorite villains, whom I believe is one of the greatest villains of all time, comes from Shakespeare’s world. In Othello, the title character’s best friend is a man named Iago. What Othello doesn’t know is that Iago is not his friend, but his enemy (ever know anyone like that?). Slowly and methodically, with manipulative and conniving whispers, Iago drives Othello to madness. Iago convinces Othello that his beloved Desdemona is cheating on him, and eventually Othello murders his innocent girlfriend in a jealous rage.

I thought of Othello as I read today’s chapter. Once again, Saul and his army are hunting David in the wilderness, even after David had spared Saul’s life just two chapters ago. Saul had repented of his foolish, mad envy of David. Now Saul is doing it again, and I had to ask myself “Why?”

Saul’s madness is certainly evident throughout the David vs. Saul saga, but I pondered the idea that it might be more than that. Then I remembered a little tidbit the author of 1 Samuel shared back in chapter 22:

And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin…”

Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, and “all his officials” were from the tribe of Benjamin, as well. They are Saul’s officials from Saul’s tribe, and as the king’s officials, they enjoy feasting on the king’s gravy train. If David, from the tribe of Judah, becomes king. What do you think will happen to their privilege and power? What might David do to them if and when he becomes king, knowing they were Saul’s henchmen?

David has thought about this, too. What’s driving Saul’s repeated homicidal attempts on David’s life might not only be Saul but from his officials who have everything to lose should David come to power. Could it be Saul’s entourage who are whispering Iago-like in Saul’s ear?

In today’s chapter, David once more confronts Saul with the fact that he could have killed the king and didn’t. David doesn’t address Saul, however. He addresses Saul’s general, Abner. David calls into question the motives of Saul’s advisors and officials: “If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord!

In the quiet this morning, I find myself pondering friendships. I have had an Iago or two in my life and wondered in hindsight how I could have been so foolish as to listen to their whispers and how I could have missed the signs of their true motives. I also find myself grateful for true friends who have walked the journey with me for years, who have been through the worst of life with me, and who have always had my back.

This is another thing David is forging in his wilderness experience. He is creating a brotherhood of men who have no other reason to be with David but loyalty. They are forging relationships through the worst of times which will translate into advisors who will be loyal to him when the best of times come and he ascends the throne.

It is a blessing to have friends and companions who are motivated only by the desire of wanting God’s best for you.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

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