Genesis 37:3–11, 1 Samuel 16:1–13, 1 Samuel 17:12–29, Proverbs 14:30

Unrighteous jealousy is very much a human feeling. Joseph’s brothers were, without question, jealous of Joseph. Their father was—in many respects—the initiator of their jealousy, for he treated Joseph differently than them. He even had a special robe made for him. It is not unreasonable to look at the robe as a foreshadowing of the royal station that Joseph would get. It was completely inappropriate for the contest of being the 2nd youngest to be so elevated, yet he was.

As the Proverb said, the brothers’ jealousy corrupted them down to their bones. Their brother was condemned to slavery (they thought). Yes, they didn’t kill them, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it was their first thought. Then, in a capstone to their jealousy, they put blood on the “royal” coat and deceived their father. It was an act of respect in regard to their father’s place in their lives. Mostly, however, it was an act of cruelty. They were able to get back at their father, too.

Unlike Joseph’s dreams, with Joseph sharing them, David’s anointing was external. The holy man and (last) judge of Israel, Samuel, anointed David. David really had nothing to do with it, other than obeying his father (Jesse) and submitting to the anointing. We can see later on, though, that the brothers weren’t responding well to their brother. Eliab, the de facto leader of David’s brothers, spoke poorly to David. We can see by David’s response that this is not a new thing. Yes, in many respects this is the reality of siblings. On the other hand, the Scriptures often highlight the important things, implying that Eliab’s jab was more than sibling rivalry.

The jealousy that seeks to elevate oneself at the cost of another rots human relationships “to the bone.” Jealousy is the sign of an unbalanced relationship.

1) Why is focusing on the jealousy within families so important? What lessons can we learn from it?

2) Unrighteous jealousy usually involves taking from others. When have you seen this? What have you done, if you could, to resolve the situation?

3) Usually all parties involved in a jealousy situation are affected/harmed. Why do you think the jealous person will often work against their self?

Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at