David has been secretly anointed king by Samuel, yet Saul still wears the crown. When no one in Israel had the courage to face the giant Goliath in battle, David volunteered and defeated him. When we left off in chapter 17, Saul had asked David whose son he was, that he might bestow the reward of freedom upon his family.
Jonathan loved David's soul as his own. This is a rare kind of love that should be much more common than it its. After all, it is, as Jesus said, the second greatest commandment:
Matt. 22:39 ...YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
But how many of us have strived to love this kind of love. After all, think about it: how much do you love yourself. Don't you always make sure that your needs are met? Don't you pamper yourself and look out for yourself? Don't you take care of yourself and feed yourself? When you look at how much you really do love yourself, and then look at how you treat your neighbor, it really pales in comparison.
This love that Jonathan had for David is the example of love that we must have for one another. It is a self-sacrificing love, a love that puts others first. Look at how Jonathan's love for David was demonstrated:
1Sam. 18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.
These were more than just presents. They were statements. They were the provisions of a covenant.
In those days, you could tell a person's authority by the fringes of the robe. Much like our military wear their ranks on their shoulders, the robes of Bible days had fringes that displayed their authority. Jonathan was giving up his authority to David, demonstrating love.
1Cor. 13:4 ...Love does not brag and is not arrogant
To show true love, we will give up our authority, give up our right to be the boss. Paul said to husbands and wives,
Eph. 5:21 ...be subject to one another...
It is so sad to hear Christian men tell their wives, "the Bible says you have to submit to me," when in reality, the husband is told to love his wife as Christ loves the church. True love gives authority to the other. A marriage based on love is a mutual submission of authority.
In giving David his armor, Jonathan was also giving up his means of defense. Many of us build up a protective barrier around our hearts. We make sure that people can only get so close, because we've been hurt before, and don't want to go through that again. Butt rue, selfless love is defenseless. Paul told us that love,
1Cor. 13:7 ...believes all things, hopes all things....
If your love has armor protecting you, it's not love like Jesus commanded us to have.
Jonathan also gave David his sword and bow, his offensive weapons. True love makes no provision for attack. It doesn't store up ammunition for a well-timed assault. Paul wrote that love...
1Cor. 13:5 ...is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered
True love does not attack, but yields its offensive weapons.
Finally, Jonathan gave David his belt. Again, in Biblical days, the belt had a different purpose than ours that keep our pants up. With the long, flowing tunics that they wore hanging by their legs, it was impossible to break into a run. They used the belts to "gird their loins," in other words, to gather up the hanging clothing and secure it to their belts, that they could run.
True love gives up its ability to run away. True love says, "I'm here for the long haul. I'll stick by you no matter how bad things get." Again, 1Corinthians 13 says that love...
1Cor. 13:7 bears all things... endures all things.
Too many friendships are dissolved lightly. Too many marriages are abandoned quickly. Too many relationships end with someone running away.
Saul had David serving full-time, and made him a commander. But when Saul heard the song that the people had begun to sing, his appreciation for David changed. They sang,
1Sam. 18:7 "...Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands."
This caused Saul to look at David in a new light. Suddenly, David wasn't a blessing, but a threat.
This is an indication of Saul's carnality. How do you respond to other's blessings? When someone new comes in to your office and people begin to remark about what a great worker they are, or when someone joins the team, and people notice how skilled a player they are, do you rejoice? Or are you jealous? James wrote,
James 3:16 ...Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Saul's jealousy and suspicion arose from his selfish ambition, and we will watch disorder and evil be the result.
The evil spirit that we discussed in chapter 16 once again came upon King Saul. He went ballistic. The word rendered "raved" here is actually the Hebrew word for prophesying. The word is used for speaking forth the Word of God, as well as singing or shouting to a god, whether it be a true or false God. So "raved" is actually a good translation for the meaning of Saul's actions. We can picture him screaming, storming around, shouting unintelligible words.
During this ranting and raving, David tried to minister to Saul by playing the harp. But instead of the spirit leaving the king, Saul instead tried to kill David twice by throwing his spear at him. Fortunately, David escaped.
Notice the contrast between Saul and David. Saul is raving, David is playing. Saul is killing, David is ministering. It can be summed up as it says in verse ten:
1Sam. 18:10 ...David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand.
Each of their hands were holding something. David's hand held the harp, an instrument of praise to God. Saul's hand held a spear, an instrument of death and destruction.
Who are you more like today? Are you full of anger and bitterness? Or do you desire to minister to the hurting? What is in your hand? A spear? Or a harp?
Saul was afraid of David's popularity with the people and good standing with the Lord. He figured that if he sent him to many battles that he would be killed soon enough. But this only served to make David even more popular in the eyes of the people.
Saul's plan hadn't worked. David was still alive, and growing in popularity. Then he hatched an idea: if David became the king's son-in-law by marrying his oldest daughter May-RAWB, then he would become public enemy number one when he was fighting the Philistines! He might as well have a target drawn on his shirt!
But David didn't feel worthy to become the king's son-in-law, so May-RAWB married Ad-ree-ALE the Mekh-o-law-THITE instead.
When Saul found out that his other daughter, Me-KAWL, loved David, he tried the plan again. But again David didn't feel worthy. He was poor, hardly able to conceive of how much a dowry might need to be paid for a king's daughter!
But again, Saul desired David to die, so the dowry he asked for (through the grapevine of course) was a hundred Philistine foreskins. Saul figured that certainly David would die while trying to kill a hundred Philistines!
David figured that he could afford this kind of dowry. He actually killed 200 Philistines, doubling the dowry. Although he hated David, he allowed him to marry his daughter Me-KAWL.
David proved to be wiser than all the other commanders in the Israeli army that fought the Philistines, and it brought him even more popularity among the people.
Reputations are built by wise behavior. How can we be wise? A good place to start is the book of Proverbs. The introduction of the book says that the proverbs are...
Prov. 1:3 To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;
Applying the proverbs to your life will result in wise behavior. The proverbs also sum up what one thing will bring wisdom above all else:
Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom...
If you walk in the fear of God, you will behave more wisely than all others.
Well, Saul's secret plans haven't worked out so far, so he decides to just come right out and tell people to kill David. Nothing works like the direct approach, right?
But Jonathan warned David, and told him to hide in the field while he tried to find out more.
Jonathan talks to his father Saul and reminds him how David has been nothing but a blessing to the king. He had not sinned against Saul, laid his life on the line by fighting goliath, and has led his thousand men in many victories against the Philistines.
He tells his father,
1Sam. 19:4 ..."Do not let the king sin against his servant David..."
I like the fact that Jonathan calls sin, "sin." He doesn't mince words, doesn't work around it delicately. One of the most profound moments of my life was at a weekend retreat when someone called sin, "sin" for me. It was about ten years ago, and I was talking to a pastor about an issue. I asked if he had any insight into it. He told me straight up, "it's pride. That's the problem, and it's your problem. There's no other word for it than pride. It's something you need to deal with."
At first, his bluntness shocked me. But I quickly realized that he'd hit the nail on the head. And I dealt with the issue. I don't ever want to be afraid of calling sin, "sin," and I think my reputation speaks for itself. Some appreciate it, others bail out, but no one has ever accused me of skirting around the truth of sin.
I pray that we can all become Jonathans in this regard. Lovingly, yet firmly, saying, "Hey, that's sin. What are you going to do about it?"
Prov. 27:5 Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.
That's good wisdom, and it worked - at least temporarily - when Jonathan frankly spoke to his father about David.
Although David was the commander of a thousand men, he was still Saul's harp player, continually trying to minister to him when the evil spirit would come upon Saul. But once again Saul threw his spear at David.
Gene Edwards, in his book "A Tale of Three Kings," makes many great observations. One of which is: "David had a question: What do you do when someone throws a spear at you? Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question.? After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them. Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back! 'When someone throws a spear at you, David, just wrench it right out of the wall and throw it back. Absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure.' And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things: You are courageous. You stand for the right. You boldly stand against the wrong. You are tough and can't be pushed around. You will not stand for injustice of unfair treatment. You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy. You will not be wronged. All of these attributes then combine to prove that you are also, obviously, a candidate for kingship. Yes, perhaps YOU are the Lord's anointed.... After the order of King Saul."
What did David do? Did he prove himself to be just like Saul by throwing back the spear? No. He fled. He didn't return the attack, he ran away. Does this make David a wimp? A coward? Is David not a real man? No, he is a real man. A real godly man.
Jesus was a real man. He was a carpenter, strong, masculine, and no one dared oppose Him when He overturned the moneychangers' tables in the temple courts. But this real man taught,
Matt. 5:38-40 "You have heard that it was said, AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also."
Does a real man throw the spear back? The real godly man never will.
Saul wasn't going to let David live this time. He sent men to watch his house, to have him killed in the morning. But Me-KAWL knew her father well enough to know what he would do. She convinced him to escape that night out the window.
Then she set up a decoy made out of an idol and a quilt of goats' hair. This idol was a teraphim, an image that carried with it the belief that it would bring healing. Although they were very common in Israelite households (Hosea 3:4), they were still idols. The only other time the word is used in the book of Samuel is when Samuel said,
1Sam. 15:23 "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry (teraphim)..."
God and His prophets did not look kindly upon idols of this nature. He hated them as much as He hates our good luck charms, horoscopes, and superstitions.
Although Me-KAWL lied and said that David was sick, Saul demanded that he be brought on his bed to die. Of course the messengers discovered the deception and told Saul. When Saul confronted her, Me-KAWL lied and said that David had threatened to kill her if she didn't help him escape.
Idolater, liar, deceiver. Not much to like about this woman, is there? She'll even lie about her own husband to save her own neck! We will see in chapter 25 that after this, she is given to another man to marry. In 2Samuel 2, we'll see David demand her back, but she is a bitter woman. By chapter 6, she despises him in her heart, and her bitterness leaves her barren.
David must have figured that if anyone could help him, it would be the prophet Samuel. So he heads to Raw-MAW and tells him what's been happening. They both head out to Naw-VEETH, but word gets to Saul.
When Saul's messengers came to Naw-VEETH, they Samuel overseeing a worship service. They were so overcome by the presence of the Spirit of God, that they joined in and prophesied in song. This happened to three different groups of messengers!
Saul decided to go himself. When he got to the well in SAY-koo, he got directions, and went directly to Naw-VEETH. But on the way, the Spirit of God came upon him and he began to prophesy. By the time he got to Naw-VEETH, he stripped off his outer garments and lay down all day and night! It seems interesting to me that this is used by many Pentecostals as evidence that being "slain in the Spirit" or doing "carpet time" is something that we should be duplicating. Saul was insane and had made himself an enemy of God!
However and whatever God was doing here, there is a lesson for us. God protects his anointed even in when there is no human or natural way of escape. Job tell us, that a man's...
Job 14:5 "...days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and his limits Thou hast set so that he cannot pass.
The Lord spoke through Isaiah,
Isa. 54:17 "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper..."
God is a God of miraculous rescues in the tightest situations. May we learn to rely completely on Him for our deliverance.