by George H. Morrison

The Jealousy of God
George H. Morrison
Exodus 20:5

Jealousy is so associated with evil that we hesitate to attribute it to God. We should never have ventured to think of God as jealous without the authority of Holy Scripture. A jealous nature in a man or woman is not one that commands our admiration. We do not despise it as we do a mean nature, but we certainly do not admire it. And all our associations with the word, gathered from the experience of life, create in us an instinct of recoil from attributing jealousy to God. Among the passions portrayed for us by Shakespeare there is one unrivaled portraiture of jealousy. Jealousy is the absorbing passion, as it is the ruin, of Othello.1 And so inwrought into the minds of students is that unrivaled creation of the dramatist, that it has tended to color the jealousy of God. Here is a nature essentially great, goaded into the madness of a beast. There is in Othello a certain grand simplicity such as is always found in noble natures. And yet Othello becomes blind and mad and ends by murdering the woman whom he worshiped under the overmastering power of jealousy. It is such things that make Bacon2 in his Essays speak of envy as the vilest of all passions. It distorts everything, blinds the vision, and is the mother of profound unhappiness. And that is why we naturally shrink, as our experience of life increases, from attributing the passion of jealousy to God.

Nor is the Bible, to which we owe the thought, ignorant of that darker side of jealousy. Like Shakespeare, it has wonderful portraiture of jealous men in its picture gallery. There is Cain, for instance, on the verge of history, madly jealous of his brother Abel. There is Saul, who was not unlike Othello in a certain heroic simplicity of nature. And yet when the women cried in the day of victory, "Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands" (1 Sam. 18:7), the heart of the kingly Saul was turned to bitterness. He who could fight like a lion in ...

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