1 Samuel 18—For the Love of David
Chapter 18 is a sequel to the David and Goliath story. David’s victory had a huge impact on King Saul and all of Israel. The Philistines had been a huge threat to over run Israel such that Israel would cease to exist and all the people would have become slaves. For 40 days the army of Israel had trembled in fear of Goliath. David had done what Saul was supposed to have done—eliminate Goliath. David had single handedly eliminated the threat of the Philistines. Afterwards Saul took David, would not let him return home, and Saul kept him to use him. David’s fame spread, and as Saul sent him out to fight Israel’s enemies, he became more and more of a hero. This aroused feelings of fear and jealousy in Saul’s twisted mind. Even though David is serving him, he suddenly sees David as a threat. The author has chosen to reveal the character of each man by contrasting the way Saul’s family loves David verses Saul’s growing hatred of David. Saul’s jealousy vacillates from attempts to murder David to just being tolerant of him. Amazingly, every time Saul tries to kill David it backfires and David is promoted. Saul’s family and all of Israel love David even more. The author’s point is much more than historical–it is theological. God is with David, but God has abandoned Saul, and therefore David is blessed but the evil intentions of Saul are thwarted. After three attempts of Saul trying to get David killed and David prospering the text says after each, “God was with David”.
Jonathan’s Love for David
In 1 Samuel 18:1-5, we read that Jonathan loved David as much as his own soul. The text says that Jonathan’s soul was “knit together with the soul of David”. Jonathan was the oldest son of King Saul and therefore heir apparent to the throne. Jonathan made a “covenant” with David because he loved him so much. This would have been a strong mutual commitment to each other to always have each other’s back, no matter what. It was a binding agreement initiated by Jonathan to always love David and never turn against him. Jonathan’s love was so deep for David that he gave David his own royal robe, his armor, sword, and his bow. We are amazed because even though Jonathan was heir to the throne, this was a clear message that he was abdicating his rights to the throne to David and saying “What’s mine is yours!” These gifts were symbols of Jonathan transferring his royalty to David. Jonathan was acknowledging that God had made David the true heir to the throne and it was all right with Jonathan. We know this for sure because in 1 Sam.23:17 when Saul’s hatred escalated, Jonathan told David not to fear because “You will be the next king of Israel and I will be next to you”. Recently many liberal theologians in an attempt to be politically correct, have speculated that their relationship was sexual. This is absurd, and has no support from the text. The rest of the historical narrative of David’s life makes it clear that David is strictly heterosexual. The author’s point in stressing Jonathan’s love is to contrast it with the evil hatred of Saul. David is the faithful servant of God and the King, so he deserves their love, but Saul wrongly fears and hates David.
The People of Israel Love David, 1 Samuel 18:6-16
As David and Saul were coming home from the military campaign against the Philistines, many women came out to greet them and sing their praises singing, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”. I have no doubt that if they had given Saul all the credit, David would have been happy. Saul, on the other hand was secretly outraged that they gave David more credit than him. Saul’s sick mind took him to his next thought that David would try to usurp the office of king from Saul. The King was totally paranoid from that day on that David was a threat to his power, and David would bump him off. The stories that follow make it clear that David was innocent of that charge. An evil spirit acted on that paranoia to induce Saul to act on his fear and jealousy by hurling a spear at David two different times. Amazingly, David did not hold it against him and stayed at the court. David’s miraculous dodging of the spears from point blank range make it clear that “the Lord was with him”. Not only that, but at this point Saul knows God is with David, so Saul goes to plan B—send him out to fight against the Philistines against great odds. Again, David had great success, and Saul’s plan B to kill David backfired such that the people loved and praised David even more. Saul became more and more desperate in his attempts to kill David, but it just gave David more opportunities to succeed and garner favor from the people. At this point Saul appears to be Wile E. Coyote in the old cartoon series that tries and tries to kill the roadrunner (David), but no matter how sneaky or ruthless Saul is it backfires on him. Wile E. Coyote sent off for Acme rockets to fire at the roadrunner, but somehow they would boomerang around and hit the coyote. Meanwhile, David prospers and succeeds in all that he does and the people continue to sing his praises. David might be standing on a ledge while Saul would saw it off, but the mountain would collapse instead. In this sense David was a type of Christ. He loved and served, and the crowds loved Him in spite of Saul’s evil plans, so the worldly king wanted to kill him.
Saul Stoops Even Lower to use His Own Daughters to Kill David, 1 Sam.18:17-25
In 1 Samuel 18:17-25, Saul becomes so desperate to kill David that he uses his own daughters in an attempt to get David killed. The almost comedic part to these stories is that Saul acts like he favors David by all appearances, but inside Saul is at a boiling point to wipe him out by any means necessary. Meanwhile David is completely humble and innocent and unaware of Saul’s true intentions. We the student are reading that Saul is throwing spears at him and sending him out to fight against impossible odds, and despising the ground he walks on, but David is just pulling the spears out of the wall and giving Saul throwing lessons, and asking what else he can do for Saul. Saul now offers his oldest daughter to David in marriage—he will become the son-in-law of the king! But first “be a valiant man for me and fight the Lord’s battles”. We know that Saul is sending him on a suicide mission. Think of it, Saul is actually hoping for a Philistine victory! How sick is that? His plan was thwarted by David’s humility as he replied, “Who am I that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” meaning “I am not worthy”. Saul therefore reneged and gave his daughter to some other guy. In verse 20, we read that Saul’s other daughter Michal had a huge crush on David, and when Saul found out about it he thought “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore, for a second time Saul offered one of his daughters to David. Apparently, Michal was smoking hot beautiful because this time David would agree, but he confessed to Saul that he was a poor man and could not offer a dowry worthy of the king’s daughter. This seems to fall right into the evil plans of Saul as he sends word back to David that he required a dowry of 100 Philistine foreskins. This feat is really going to require God’s help! Imagine David has to go down to enemy territory alone, and not only kill 100 Philistines, but then strip them and cut off their foreskins. I think I would rather fight Goliath!
1 Samuel 18:26-30, Saul’s Murderous Schemes Backfire
Saul gave David a murderous “Mission Impossible” demand for a dowry in order that David could marry Michal, the King’s daughter. David saw it as an opportunity to serve King Saul and Israel, and to earn the right to marry the King’s daughter. David was given a short time period to complete the quest, so he took a few of his men to the land of the Philistines and somehow struck down 200 of the enemy. David brought back the 200 foreskins to Saul as proof. David was actually appreciative of King Saul for giving him this great opportunity, but meanwhile Saul (like Wily Coyote) was secretly cursing his bad luck that David just wouldn’t die. Not only that, but Saul’s scheme backfired—now he lost his daughter to David, and David was now even closer to the throne. Also, the people of Israel loved David even more, and “his name was highly esteemed”. I would have loved to having been there just to see Saul’s face when David delivered the 200 foreskins! Chapter 18 ends with Saul being even more aware that God was with David, and “Saul was even more afraid of David. Thus Saul was David’s enemy continually.”
The Providence of God
Divine providence is the governing of God by which He, with wisdom and love cares for and directs all things. Providence differs from miracles in that God works through the natural order of things. Somehow all circumstances and the natural happening of events will work out according to His will. Humans have a free will, and we all make our free will decisions, but our Creator’s purpose and determined will, somehow will be worked out in the end. The clearest example of this is found in the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Joseph’s brothers made their decision to beat him and sell him into slavery, and then lie to their father about his fate. Poor Joseph was then falsely accused by his master in Egypt, thrown into prison and mistreated by just about everyone he came in contact with. Yet Joseph ended up in the perfect position to save Egypt from a terrible famine, and he became Prime Minister of Egypt. His new position enabled him to also save his own family. When his brothers fear retribution, Joseph acknowledges God’s providence in Genesis 50:20, “You meant it for evil, but God used it for good!”
Will Wile E. Coyote ever catch the Roadrunner? Can Acme Inc. ever provide the bomb, rocket, trap, or invention that will help him catch and kill the Roadrunner? No way! Is there a reason or valid explanation why the scheming coyote can’t catch the roadrunner, and every sneaky ruthless plot always backfires? YES, the reason is that the creator and writer of the cartoon series, Chuck Jones, determined beforehand that Wile E. would never catch the roadrunner. Therefore, every episode full of devious plots by the coyote ends with Wile E. frustrated and defeated—Chuck Jones has guaranteed it. In the same way, the Creator of all things—the sovereign all powerful God, has determined that the adversary of God’s people will always be defeated. God’s people may appear in the short run to be in big trouble just like David fighting Goliath. But God determined before creation how it would end. People make their own free will decisions, but in the meantime God has guaranteed the ending. Throughout the book of 1 Samuel it appears David is always in harms way. He is always outnumbered and ruthless people are all scheming against him, but God is with David so we know he will prevail.
The greatest example of God’s divine providence is the story of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. God allowed Judas to lie, deceive, steal, and betray Jesus—all terrible despicable things. Nevertheless, every bad decision Judas, Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate made led to the greatest event ever—the salvation of mankind!