How to deal with haters (1 Samuel 18)

Let’s talk about hater culture for a minute.

I remember when it was novel, unusual, even witty to bring up haters in a religious context. I remember hearing sermons about Biblical haters, how Jesus had haters, how most Christians have haters.

Soon, somehow, it became something to be proud of, something to brag about, the fact that you had haters.

Now it seems we’re starting to come full circle. We’re out here proudly declaring ourselves haters!

It’s a topic more humorous than serious, but the reason the concept has stuck around is because it’s real. We have all felt hated, persecuted, looked down on, or attacked.

And whether it’s our imagination or it’s a legitimate event, it’s a problem.

So how should followers of God deal with haters?

It’s above me now

For guidance, let’s turn to one of the most hating haters to ever hate, King Saul. It’s in 1 Samuel 18 that Saul’s hating sights lock in firmly on David.

It’s not hard to understand why. Saul is an aging king and he knows it. He has God’s rejection on his conscience. His battles with the Philistines have been turning up less and less victories. And in the midst of all this arrives David. He’s young, strong, and handsome. He kills Goliath, the Philistines’ champion.

So Saul gets down to his best hating work.

He sends David on dangerous missions, praying he will die in battle.

He promises David marriage to his oldest daughter Merab, only to fake left and give her to someone else.

Then he names an impossible dowry to keep David from marrying his other daughter Michal.

It’s skillful hatery. Galling, sneaky, yet outright enough to make the target furious.

And yet, through it all, David somehow begins to thrive.

He celebrates victory after military victory, rising in rank in Saul’s army.

He is lavished with love, adoration and even songs of praise by his fellow Israelites.

And against all odds, David does marry King Saul’s youngest daughter and develops a deep friendship with his son and heir, Prince Jonathan.

How did he do it? How did he transform Saul’s hatred into the fuel he needed to rise higher and higher?

He didn’t. He didn’t do it at all.

He didn’t confront Saul. He didn’t bad mouth him to other people. He didn’t even make passive aggressive social media posts about him.

David did nothing but his best. God took over all of the rest.

Now I can’t be sure, but I’m willing to bet that none of us can name powerful world leaders among our haters. So if David didn’t stress over his hater, then why should we? If David didn’t snipe back at his hater, then we don’t have to either!

And if David could rest knowing that his hater was completely handled by the Almighty God, then so can we.

“Don’t compare your life to everyone else’s, compare it to Mine.”

Being a hater. Worrying about haters. Jealousy. Inferiority complexes. I’d like to posit that all of the above stems from a common root:

Comparing ourselves to others. Worrying what other people think.

Some of us have gotten by on this way of looking at life for a long time. It serves us well. Usually when we compare ourselves to others we come out on top and we like that.

But there will always come a dip. A crash. A downtime when things just aren’t looking so good. The rest of us spend most of our time there. And to cope we hate. Or we conjure up haters. Or we stew in jealousy. Anything to project our self-hatred outward.

We may have an idea of the supposed solution. A fuzzy picture of the unbothered queens we all want so badly to be. But pretending can only take us so far.

No, what we need is a reminder of the reason we’re all here. What we need is to recollect the real purpose of our lives. It’s not to one-up someone. It’s not a perfectly curated social media feed of a life.

It’s to live like God. It’s to live for God. It’s to live telling people about Him and looking forward to the day when we’ll finally see Him.

And if that sounds like too much, it’s even simpler than that – live with God. Think of Him and know He thinks of you. Ask Him what to do next and believe He has an answer.

Maybe if our lives centered around God and not ourselves, haters and hating and all the like would fade into the background. It sounds nice. Calm. Peaceful, even.

Let’s try it.

What do you think? How should followers of God deal with haters?

4 thoughts on “How to deal with haters (1 Samuel 18)

  1. Good points about comparison and jealousy. When I didn’t have peace inside and things were not fine with me, I was so frustrated with others around me for everything they did. And that leads to resentment and self pity and so easily turns into hatred. But as you said, the solution is so easy, because God promised to give us peace and if we spend time with Him and talk to Him about our issues, it helps us to see other people differently.

    And we should pray for them, as Jesus said, and when we pray that leads to more compassion and understanding. And talking to them and getting to know them helps. So often we can look at others, and compare, be jealous and feel bad towards them and consider them bad. And when I feel this way towards someone I try to talk to them to get to know them and I usually realize that my initial opinion about them was so incorrect.

    It’s different when someone really treats us badly, but in those cases also we need to turn to God and pray for them and remember how much God loved us when we were still His enemies and how He still loves us though we still sin so much.

    God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you say “I was so frustrated with others around me for everything they did”, that’s exactly how I have felt and still sometimes feel about people when I’m letting jealousy rule me! No matter what, I’m just irritated that they’re doing good or accomplishing stuff and it’s the worst feeling. And you’re so right about praying for people – that really does help. And spending time with God and talking to Him is so important especially because, at least for me, I have a tendency to hide my bad parts from Him and hope they go away on their own but we have to be honest with Him in order to heal.

      Thank you so much for sharing! God bless you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Saul was indeed the most hating hater to ever hate! That made me laugh. God will take care of all “haters.”


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