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I Samuel 18-20 Listen
Psalm 11; Psalm 59
How about a blood-brother covenant (I Samuel 18:1-5)
1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
David has just led Israel to victory over the Philistines with his defeat over Goliath in I Samuel 17 (see notes). Good things happen when you slay a giant! Immediately following David's victory appearance (having killed Goliath) before King Saul, the king's son, Jonathan, is endeared to David - even makes a blood-brother covenant with him. Jonathan seals the covenant by awarding David with his own complete set of clothing as a token of that covenant - even his sword. And Saul places David over Israel's men of war. One day David is delivering supplies to the front where his brothers are fighting Philistines; the next thing he knows he's commander of the whole army - WHAT A COUNTRY!
6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.
11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.
13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
14 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.
15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
After a great victory over Goliath and the Philistines, it's time to head back home - a highlight for the soldiers and especially the victorious king. Saul rides in as the women break out in spontaneous songs of glorious victory praising the king and his army. Those lyrics were insulting to King Saul. They ascribe the greater glory to David rather than to Saul. Verse 9 says, "And Saul eyed David from that day and forward." The Hebrew word for "eyed" there means to view with jealousy. Whoa...You get a new job and already your boss is out to get you!
The next day David is playing his music when Saul tries to run him through with his javelin. As a matter of fact, verse 11 seems to indicate that this happened twice. Again, the Hebrew word for the "spirit" that came upon Saul does not mean "evil" in the context of "wicked," but rather a "troubling" or "adverse" spirit came upon Saul - I'LL SAY! It was mental illness...like paranoia schizophrenia. He's had it ever since Samuel turned thumbs down on his kingship and anointed David as the next king back in I Samuel 16:1-13 (see notes). It's first mentioned in I Samuel 16:14. Nonetheless, Saul still thinks he's king, and so do the people of Israel. I Samuel 18:12 sums up Saul's reality, "And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul." So, Saul puts David on active duty in charge of a battalion of fighting men. A dangerous job like that will surely get him killed - NOT! Continuing battle success just endears David to the people of Israel - minus Saul, of course.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
17 And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD’S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
18 And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?
19 But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.
20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.
22 And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law.
23 And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?
24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.
25 And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired.
27 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was WITH DAVID, AND THAT Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.
29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.
30 Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, THAT David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.
"Here, take my daughter to be your wife!" Saul says. "Not worthy - no dowry to pay," replies David. Saul has this ingenious idea - how about bringing the foreskins of 100 Philistines for a dowry...YUCK, YUCK, DOUBLE YUCK! I mean...killing them is one thing, but then..!!! Saul knows how hard it is to skin a Philistine - certain death for David; it's a suicide mission. Saul, ya' better go ahead and get your glass case ready for your new collection. Oh, better make that two glass cases; David didn't know when to stop - brings back 200! David becomes Saul's son-in-law, and Saul hates him - not the ideal father/son-in-law relationship. So maybe the suicide mission didn't work as Saul planned, but here's Saul's new plan involving his daughter, Michal, in verse 21, "I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him." Here's the problem with that plan: Michal, Saul's daughter and David's new bride, loves him; that's a good start. David continues to excel in battle and his reputation grows.
A couple of additional points are in order here. First of all, as Michal's husband, David now has a legitimate claim to Saul's throne. Of course, that's after Saul's sons, but a claim, nonetheless. The second point may be more interesting than relevant. According to the Jewish Study Bible, verses 20 and 28 contain the only two references in the Old Testament of a woman loving a man.
At least not everybody wants David dead (I Samuel 19)
1 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
2 But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret PLACE, and hide thyself:
3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou ART, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee.
4 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:
5 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?
6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.
7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.
8 And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him.
9 And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.
10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
11 Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain.
12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.
13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.
14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick.
15 And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.
16 And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster.
17 And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee?
18 So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.
19 And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.
20 And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
21 And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also.
22 Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.
23 And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.
24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?
It's tough when the King is bent on your death, but at least when the King's son and heir apparent (Jonathan) wants you to live - well, that's gotta be some sort of a plus. Saul even makes a vow/oath in I Samuel 19:6, "And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain." Do you recall how sacred these vows were to the Israelites? An oath was an oath; back then you just didn't break an oath. Come to think of it, Saul broke an ill-conceived vow when he spared Jonathan's life back in I Samuel 14:24-46 (see notes); remember the honey episode? Anyway, for now, Jonathan arranges for David to be returned back to good standing with Saul. However, this good standing didn't seem to last very long before David has great success in battle against the Philistines again, and Saul's resentment toward David intensifies. FORGET THE VOW! After Saul has another bout with that "evil spirit" in verse 9, followed by a near miss from Saul's javelin (verse 10), David flees from Saul.
And then there's Michal, Saul's daughter (David won her "fair and square"), she wants David alive as well. Knowing that Saul has sent for David to bring him in for execution, she helps David escape and does the ol' fake-a-person-in-the-bed trick on Saul's men using (of all things) a family idol and fake hair from a goat.. Hey! Aren't those things (idols) supposed to be bad for you? The messengers return to Saul with this message from Saul's daughter, "David can't come in to be executed today, he's too sick." That's when the story becomes even more amusing. Saul tells the messengers to go ahead and bring the whole bed back with David on it; Saul himself will do the slaying. Apparently they got the bed all the way back to Saul without realizing they were carrying an idol's head with a goat-hair wig; Saul makes the discovery and rebukes Michal for deceiving him, but Michal covers her tracks by adding yet another lie in verse 17...that David threatened to kill her if she did not help him escape. So, David escapes to Samuel's place, a prophet's college established by Samuel near Ramah, at a place called Naioth.
Saul sends three sets of messengers, one group after another, to fetch David and bring him back for execution. Instead, they all get caught up in prophesying and fail to return. Saul himself heads for Naioth. He also breaks into prophesying...naked, all-night prophesying. Just tell me where you get a better story line than I Samuel 19; sometimes reality is just more interesting than fiction.
By the way, this was not Saul's first bout with prophesying. You will recall a similar incident nearly 40 years earlier when he was called by Samuel to be King of Israel back in I Samuel 10:10-12 (see notes).
1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?
2 And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.
3 And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.
4 Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.
5 And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
6 If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.
7 If he say thus, It is well; thy servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.
8 Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?
9 And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?
10 Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?
11 And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.
12 And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;
13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father.
14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:
15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.
17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
19 And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.
20 And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
21 And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the LORD liveth.
22 But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the LORD hath sent thee away.
23 And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between thee and me for ever.
24 ¶ So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat.
25 And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, and David’s place was empty.
26 Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.
27 And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?
28 And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem:
29 And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king’s table.
30 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?
31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.
32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?
33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.
34 So Jonathan 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.
35 ¶ And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.
36 And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.
37 And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?
38 And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.
39 But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.
40 And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.
41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.
It is interesting that Jonathan doesn't seem to know that Saul has already made some serious attempts at killing David when he says in verse 2, "God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so."
Jonathan determines to take care of David with regard to his dad's strong desire to see him dead. Look at I Samuel 20:4, "Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee." Jonathan pledges his friendship to David. He also requires of David preferred treatment for himself and his family after David is in a position to do so (verse 15). Obviously, Jonathan realizes that a kingship is in David's future. How else do you explain all of David's near-death experiences?
You know those big family dinners where everybody sits around the table and just fellowships? Well, it's the beginning of the month and time for one of those in Saul's house per Numbers 28:11-15 (see notes). It takes some of the fun out of it when your father-in-law is devising ways to kill you. On the first day of the feast, Saul assumes that David's absence must have something to do with the "unclean" rule of Leviticus 15:16-18 (see notes). However, Jonathan and David had determined it best if David skips the meals, and both conspire a little cover story (a lie) to account for David's absence on the second day - one involving family obligations back in Bethlehem. It's hard to have a conversation with Saul about David without Saul getting a little testy. When Saul finds out that Jonathan is a party to David's absence, he lets loose some pretty strong language on Jonathan - even throws the ultimate insult at Jonathan's mama in verse 30 when he says of Jonathan, "Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman." Watch it Saul; that's your wife you're talking about there! Saul angrily tells Jonathan that he ought to want David dead as well - no kingdom for Jonathan as long as David lives (verse 31). Then, he hurls his javelin at Jonathan. Saul's really in need of some anger-management classes. Has Saul ever really hit anything with that javelin?
Jonathan goes to meet David out in the field to deliver the bad news, "My Dad really, really hates you." But David and Jonathan seal a deal between themselves in verse 42, "And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city."
Hmmm...since Samuel anointed David King of Israel back in I Samuel 16 (see notes), life hasn't really rolled along that smoothly for David, wouldn't you agree? Yet, it was God who selected David. There's a lesson for us in this process. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 16:9 (see notes), "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." So...here's that lesson: The road to God's will for your life isn't always paved. Or...to state it plainly: Obeying God's will in your life does not mean you won't have adversity in the process. David certainly had his adversity on the way to his crown.
God loves the righteous (Psalm 11)
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
1 In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
4 The LORD is IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE, THE LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
While impossible to say for certain, it is likely that David wrote this Psalm while Saul was seeking his death. Hmmmm...I wonder who is the righteous and who is the wicked about whom David speaks here. Regardless, God has a special punishment in store for the wicked.
They're watching your house, David (Psalm 59)
To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.
1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.
3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.
4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold.
5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.
6 They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.
7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?
8 But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.
9 Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.
10 The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.
11 Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.
12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.
13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.
14 And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.
15 Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.
According to the subtitle, the occasion that probably inspired this Psalm is found in I Samuel 19:11-18 (see above). Saul sent messengers to David's house to kill him, but Michal (David's wife and King Saul's daughter) helped David escape. So David had descended in Saul's kingdom from army commander to fugitive. How's that for a setting to write poetry? So, when David asks God to deliver him from his enemies; he's actually talking about Saul's messengers. Perhaps that is why David asks God not to kill them in verse 11. However, ultimately our lives are in God's hands - a fact that David acknowledges in verse 17, "Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy."