12 Things One Verse Tells Us About the Abusive Mind

12 Things One Verse Tells Us About the Abusive Mind

The Bible is so deep! Do you want to know the 12 things the Lord shared with me from 1 Samuel 20:30 about the abusive mind?

There is so much to be gleaned from 1 Samuel 20:30!

As I’ve continued on my project to understand domestic violence through the eyes of Saul, David, and Jonathan, I came across 1 Samuel 20:30, which says, “Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?” Those words were uttered by Saul seconds before he tried to kill Jonathan, his own son. 1 Samuel 20:33.

First, we have to understand the depth of Saul’s senseless outburst in 1 Samuel 20:30.

To better understand the depth of Saul’s anger, we have to understand what the phrase “to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness” means. I learned from blueletterbible.org that the word “confusion” in the Hebrew means “shame.” Saul felt that Jonathan shamed himself and his mother by his friendship with David. The NKJV renders 1 Samuel 20:30 like this: “Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?'” The expression “to the shame of your mother’s nakedness” was an idiom Saul used to express how much shame he thought Jonathan caused. It was as if Saul said Jonathan’s choice to befriend David was like disgracefully letting everyone see the nakedness of his mother. That word “nakedness” in 1 Samuel 20:30 is connected in the Hebrew to the word “shame” in Isaiah 20:4, which says, “So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.” Obviously, Saul was very livid with Jonathan!

With this understanding, I now present to you 12 things one verse tells us about the abusive mind.

Below are 12 Things One Verse Tells Us About the Abusive Mind:

1. Sinful anger is directed toward the person instead of the sin.

Saul was speaking in anger in 1 Samuel 20:30. Saul’s anger was not an anger against sin, but it was an anger that dealt with his will being crossed.

There are two types of anger; one is sinful and one is righteous. How can we tell the difference between the two?

There are two types of anger mentioned in 1 Samuel 20. Saul demonstrated the sinful type of anger, and Jonathan demonstrated how one can be “angry, and sin not”. Ephesians 4:26. Notice that when Saul was angry, his “anger was kindled against Jonathan.” 1 Samuel 20:30. He was mad with a person instead of with sin. When Jonathan was angry, he “arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.” 1 Samuel 20:34. Jonathan’s anger wasn’t kindled against Saul. He tried as much as possible to have a high regard for his dad. This is why when Saul prophesied in 1 Samuel 19:23, 24, Jonathan jumped at the opportunity to believe that Saul had changed for the better. 1 Samuel 20:1, 2. In total contrast to Saul, Jonathan sought to love the sinner while still hating the sin.

If we have righteous anger, we can love the sinner while still hating the sin.

Jonathan’s anger wasn’t because his feelings were hurt or because his reputation was marred. Actually, Jonathan’s anger wasn’t because his father had just hurled a javelin at him. 1 Samuel 20:33, 34. Nowhere in the Bible does it record Jonathan seeking revenge against his father. “…He was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.” Jonathan’s anger was against his father’s sin towards David.

Further reading: Jonathan: “David, there is no issue of domestic violence in my home. Period.”

2. Feelings dictate abusers’ actions.

God wants us to love and care for one another, but never are feelings supposed to supersede how we make decisions. Saul’s example shows us that feelings are sometimes fleeting and irrational.

Feelings are sometimes fleeting and irrational, but Bible based principles never change.

Feelings–not Bible based principles–dominated Saul’s actions. Saul asked Jonathan a question, and Jonathan answered it. Then Saul became so upset that he threw a javelin at his own son. Obviously, it’s not a decision that any rational person would make, but Saul felt angry, and therefore, he acted like he was angry.

However, sometimes Saul could be talked with in a rational way. It all depended on how he was feeling at the present time. In 1 Samuel 19:1, 4-6, Jonathan talked with Saul about David without a javelin being hurled at him. “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David…And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain.”

3. Being preoccupied with feelings allow abusers to make wrong judgment calls.

Judging Jonathan’s actions based on feelings led Saul to come to the wrong conclusion about his own son. Saul felt Jonathan was shaming himself as well as his mother, but who was really bringing shame (or dishonor) to the family? God’s unerring Word states it was Saul. 1 Samuel 20:34.

How do we come to conclusions?

Take the quiz called “What Are They Thinking” to find out.

God says, “Come now, and let us reason together”, but can we sometimes get so caught up in feelings that we can’t make right decisions based on God’s Word? Isaiah 1:18. Imagine we were transported back to Saul and Jonathan’s day, and we didn’t know that much about the character of Saul (which would be hard because Saul was king). If Saul said to us, “Jonathan is no son of mine; he shamed both himself and his mother”, would we readily believe Saul’s words because he was the father and his feelings were hurt?

Judging from Jonathan’s unselfish character, he most likely wanted to please his father whenever possible. How did he reconcile not truly wanting to shame his family and also doing the right thing? He had to follow whatever God wanted him to do first above his family.

Further Reading: Can the Bible Relate to My Dysfunctional Home?

4. Abusers assign false motives to their victims so they can look good in front of others.

The accusation Saul brought against Jonathan was that he was shaming his himself and his mother. Was anything about the honor of God mentioned in Saul’s comments? Was Saul concerned more about how he looked in front of others, or was he more concerned about honoring the Lord? The love of praise had been in Saul’s heart for a long time. 1 Samuel 18:7-9. This verse is applicable to Saul’s character: “…If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. Saul wanted to please himself more than serve the Lord. His standard of right or wrong was based on whatever pleased him.

Saul’s self-righteousness led to assigning false motives to others.

From 1 Samuel 20:30-33 we see that the love of praise led Saul into to domestic violence. Why? Saul desired the greatest praise from others, but he didn’t want to confess his sins. Therefore, when he sinned, he sought to shield himself by casting the blame on people or circumstances. See 1 Samuel 13:8-14; 1 Samuel 15:1-3, 14, 15, 20, 21, 24. Saul believed he was always right, so if there was an issue with sin, it had to, at least in his mind, be coming from something or someone other than himself. When we trust in ourselves that we’re righteous, we’ll despise others. Luke 18:9. “Only by pride cometh contention…” Proverbs 13:10. The worse others appear in our eyes, the better we’ll appear because our standard of righteousness won’t be based on Christ. Saul’s self-righteousness led to assigning false motives to others. His story is on record for us to study and examine ourselves to see if we, too, have characteristics of self-righteousness. 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Saul’s false reasoning, which is consistent with self-righteousness is also demonstrated in 1 Samuel 22:7, 8. “Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds; That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?”

How could Saul have such distorted thinking?

Consider this statement from Signs of the Times, September 14, 1888 about Saul’s problem with assigning false motives to others:

“Saul represented David as one who was his deadly enemy, and accused Jonathan, his dutiful, and God-fearing son, of urging on the rebellion, because he would not join in the pursuit of his friend. This was an entirely false accusation. It was not David and Jonathan only who were accused, but the king’s own tribe, and the people of his realm were all included in this suspicions as traitors and conspirators. He declared that they were all blind to their own best interests, and were destitute of compassion for him, the king of Israel. He had been informed by spies of the interview between David and Jonathan, of how they had entered into a covenant of eternal friendship; and, as Saul knew nothing of the particulars, he was filled with evil surmising as to their loyalty, and deemed that they were plotting against himself and his kingdom. At one time when Saul had furiously condemned David to death, and Jonathan had asked, ‘Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?’ the king, in a moment of intense anger, had hurled a javelin at his own son, as he had previously thrown one at David. Jonathan had lost all confidence in his father. He was afraid of him, and could not be free and confidential with him; for he saw with sorrow that God had departed from him, and that another spirit had taken possession of him.”

Saul could understand his failure only by attributing evil motives and actions to his people.

“That a conspiracy had been formed against him, Saul affirmed to his councilors as a settled fact, and he had arrived at the conclusion that it must be one that was thoroughly organized, or the chief conspirator would not have been so successful in eluding his search. From this he argued that the people must be involved in it, or its success would not be so evident. He put darkness for light, and light for darkness. His reasoning and its conclusions were all erroneous. The plotting was all on the side of Saul himself. Because he had changed his position from time to time, and had thought to have secured his prey long before, and had been defeated time and again, he could understand his failure only by attributing evil motives and actions to his people. Those who had been in communication with him, and had known of his plans, must, he thought, have informed David of his movements.”

Saul became blinded through the deceitfulness of sin.

“Saul had become so blinded through the deceitfulness of sin, that he could not discern spiritual things. He did not recognize the fact that God was present at all his councils, and that he was in communication with his servant David. God did not intend that the murderous designs of Saul should prove successful to accomplish their ends. The evil of the king’s heart was to be manifested before Israel, that they might see to what terrible lengths a soul would go, after breaking away from the restraining influence of the Spirit of God. The king had had sufficient evidence to prove to him, beyond a doubt, that David had no evil intention toward him. He had had opportunity to take the life of his enemy, if he had desired to do so, but the son of Jesse would not lift up his hand against the Lord’s anointed. But all this went for nothing, for it was in the heart of Saul to accredit evil purposes to David, and he did according to all that was in his heart.”

5. Abusers try to distort the truth.

Saul tried to distort Jonathan’s perception of reality when he was living by his feelings. Jonathan didn’t do anything wrong, but Saul spoke in a way to make Jonathan appear like he was the evildoer. Was this this the only time Saul spoke in a derogatory way to his son? No. At one point Saul wanted Jonathan to die for the “crime” of eating “a little honey.” 1 Samuel 14:43, 44.

Do you believe the truth?

Words, especially derogatory words spoken in anger from abusers, can be used by Satan to be repeated constantly in the minds of victims until that those words become the victims’ truth. The phrase, “Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman” could have turned into “I am a no good son of a prostitute who is shaming my family” in Jonathan’s mind if he wasn’t careful. This is why it’s so important to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5.

What could have become more confusing to Jonathan was that Saul was the king of Israel and had just prophesied with the prophets. 1 Samuel 19:20-24. Surely, after that experience, Saul would be speaking the truth about his son, right?

The lying link between Cain and Saul.

Saul perfectly reflected Cain’s lying spirit. In my book, “Except the Lord Build the House: Overcoming the Dysfunctional Mind” under the chapter “Why Violence is Often Carried Out in Secret”, I wrote, “…Cain was part of a class of people that ‘hideth hatred with lying lips…’ (Proverbs 10:18). He tried to use his speech to change even God’s perception of reality. [See Genesis 4:9]. If Cain could be so bold as to lie to God, who spoke to him directly and audibly about his hatred, how much more easily can people lie to God about cherishing sin today? This happens with husbands and wives concerning secrets and sin. A violent outburst occurs at home and abusers can speak in a way that tries to take the guilt off of them. They might deny that the event occurred, or they might cast blame on others or circumstances. If they are unrepentant, they will speak in a way that enhances how they appear before others instead of expressing, both in words and actions, true humility of heart. Through the continual practice of sin, they can sincerely believe the words they speak because the Lord will eventually let them believe their own lies. (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Unfortunately, those who have been abused sometimes forget the reality and believe the lies of the remorseless abusers. And in many cases, abusers either strongly suggest or directly request that the abuse remain a secret between the victim and the abuser.”

Further Reading: How to Break Generational Curses of Domestic Violence.

6. Victims might be disowned.

If Jonathan didn’t do what Saul wanted him to do, Saul would disown him. Of course, Saul wasn’t claiming a son from a “perverse rebellious woman” as his own.

7. Independent thought is stifled.

Saul didn’t even attempt to reason with his son for his supposed “wrong” choice to be friends with David. Jonathan was supposed to be stifled from independent thought and judgment. Saul taught by his actions that whatever he felt at any given moment was what he expected Jonathan to feel; if Jonathan didn’t feel like that, a javelin and/or curse words would be hurled at him.

8. Emotional ties are severed.

Saul resorted to name calling and severed his emotional tie with his son when Jonathan didn’t follow every whim of his father.

9. Abuse happens when the Word of God isn’t followed.

Saul was upset with Jonathan befriending David because he didn’t believe the Word of God. He said to Jonathan, “…For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom.” 1 Samuel 20:31. Was Jonathan really going to have a kingdom? Samuel had already told Saul, “…Thy kingdom shall not continue.” 1 Samuel 13:14. If Saul really believed the words of the prophet, would he have an issue with David and Jonathan?

Further Reading: Who is the King of Your Home: God or You?

10. Abusers’ promises are meaningless.

Saul’s promises meant nothing. He had sworn to Jonathan, “…As the Lord liveth, he [David] shall not be slain.” 1 Samuel 19:6. Then in 1 Samuel 20:30-33, Saul was so upset that Jonathan didn’t have his murderous heart toward David that he threw a javelin at his own son. If Saul had kept his word concerning not killing David, would he really be angry with Jonathan?

11. Abusers have expectations that their victims can’t conscientiously fulfill.

Saul’s expectation of honor (the opposite of shame) from his son was for Jonathan to be an enemy of a God fearing man. Jonathan could only “honor” his father at the peril of his own soul. Honoring God before he sought to honor his father was primary for Jonathan even though his relationship with Saul was very unstable.

12. It’s all about self.

Saul loved his self so much that he could cherish murderous anger towards his son. He was unwilling to die to self.

Further Reading: Break Up? Seriously?! …But Lord, He’s/She’s Suddenly Going to Church!

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