1 Samuel 19:1-7
SS Lesson for 10/04/2020
Devotional Scripture: Matt 5:43-48
What risks do peacemakers face in areas of conflict? A study, begun in 2010 by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, seeks to answer that question. The fact that such a study exists confirms the sad truth that we all know: peacemakers sometimes come to very violent ends. A government that doesn’t want outside influence can forcefully remove peaceful humanitarian efforts. One side or another of a military conflict might attack the peacemakers, hoping that the aid they would have given to their opponents will result in victory. Or one individual who stands opposed to a specific peacemaker can kill that one, hoping the movement will end with his or her death. We need only recall conflicts in Syria or Sudan, or assassinations like those of Martin Luther King Jr. or Oscar Romero, to realize that peacemaking can be a very dangerous business. There is no guarantee that efforts for reconciliation will work. But Jonathan, son of King Saul, believed the risk was worth taking. His actions are an example to all of us about the potential power of peacemaking.
Two of the Old Testament’s books of history are 1 and 2 Samuel. They take their name from Samuel, the last judge of Israel. He was instrumental in the transition from the period of the judges to the time of kings. As such, the two books record the transition from the theocracy (when the Lord reigned as sole king of Israel, with human leaders in the roles of judges) to the monarchy of human kings. This transition began about the year 1050 BC. It began with the Israelites’ demand that Samuel give them an earthly king “such as all the other nations have” (1 Samuel 8:5). This demand was not primarily a rejection of Samuel or his sons but of the Lord as their king (8:7). God had called Israel to be his special nation (Exodus 19:5-6), and their desire for a king expressed a wish to be not quite so special. Samuel proclaimed the Lord’s warning of the negative consequences of a human king (1 Samuel 8:11-18). But the people persisted, and the Lord granted their request (8:19-22). The Lord selected Saul as the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:17; 10:17-24). Saul started well, but when he failed to carry out faithfully the Lord’s commands, the Lord selected a different king (15:16-26). Samuel informed Saul of his being rejected by God, and Samuel anointed David as the next king (16:1-13). That signified that Saul’s royal line would end when David took the throne. When the Philistines challenged Israel, it was young David who slew Goliath, which in turn led to a routing of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:1-54). After this great victory, David became a member of Saul’s royal household in two important ways. First, David and Jonathan, Saul’s son and heir to the throne, became fast friends (18:3). Second, David married Michal, daughter of Saul (18:27). When military victories were celebrated, however, people esteemed David’s accomplishments more highly than Saul’s (1 Samuel 18:6-8). This made Saul angry, jealous, and suspicious of David to the point that Saul attempted to kill him (18:10-11; 19:9-10).
Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, "Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you.
18:1-7. David, as has been seen, was not only chosen from eternity to be the founder of the messianic dynasty of kings, but he was also providentially prepared by the Lord to undertake his royal responsibilities. David had served as a shepherd in the fields and had the loving, protective heart of a shepherd, a fitting attribute of a king. He had learned responsibility and courage by confronting and slaying wild beasts that threatened his flock (17:34-36). He had learned to play the harp, a skill that would make him sensitive to the aesthetic side of life and that would help him compose the stirring psalms which extol the Lord and celebrate His mighty exploits. David had been brought into the palace of the king as musician and warrior so that he might acquire the experience of statecraft. Though an uninitiated novice at the time of his anointing, he was eminently equipped to be king of Israel at his coronation some 15 years later. But his education was not always pleasant. With his rising popularity among the people came a deterioration of his relationship with Saul, for the king became insanely jealous of Israel’s new hero. After David’s dramatic victory over Goliath, Saul brought him into his palace once again, this time as a commander of his army (18:5). David’s favored position in the court was further strengthened by the personal affection felt for him by Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son (vv. 1, 3). So close did this friendship become that Jonathan, though heir apparent to the throne of Israel (cf. 20:31), stripped himself of his own royal regalia and placed it on David in recognition of David’s divine election to be king (18:4; cf. 23:17). More than once the covenant of friendship between the two men would work to David’s advantage. Meanwhile David became so effective militarily that his exploits were celebrated in song: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.
18:8-16. So enraged was Saul at the diminishing of his glory that he, inspired by the demonic spirit (v. 10; cf. 16:14-16; 19:9), tried to spear David (18:10-11; 19:9-10). But God delivered David and gave him even greater popularity (18:12-16).
18:17-30. When Saul then saw that he could not destroy David personally, he determined to let the Philistines kill him. This he arranged by proposing that David marry his oldest daughter, Merab. Saul had already reneged on one marital promise to David (17:25). David protested, however, that he was a commoner and had no sufficient bridal price (18:25, mōhar, not “dowry” as in kjv and others). Before anything further could develop, Merab... was given to another man (v. 19). Again Saul offered his second daughter, Michal, who at that time loved David (v. 20; cf. 2 Sam. 6:16). But again David argued that he was unsuitable to be a son-in-law of the king because of his low status (1 Sam. 18:23). In an act of apparent generosity Saul waived the usual bridal payment and demanded only that David kill 100 Philistines and bring back their foreskins (v. 25), a requirement he more than met by slaying 200 (v. 27). Saul had been hoping, of course, that the exploit would cost David his life (v. 25). As a result, Saul was again afraid of David (v. 29; cf. vv. 12, 15). But David became Saul’s son-in-law by marrying Michal (v. 27), and his military success and his popularity increased (v. 30).
Chapter 19. After an initial and successful attempt by Jonathan to soothe his father’s feelings toward David (vv. 1-7), Saul set in motion further steps to destroy David. First he tried to slay him once more with his own hand (vv. 9-10); then he hired conspirators to murder him in his bed, a plot foiled by Michal (vv. 11-17). Next Saul sent men to Naioth at Ramah where David had taken refuge with Samuel (vv. 18-24). (Ramah was Samuel’s hometown.) Their efforts were also unsuccessful for they, and later Saul, were overwhelmed by the Spirit of God who came on them and caused them to “act like prophets” (niv, prophesied, vv. 20-21, 23-24). This means that they fell into a trance or an ecstatic state, a condition which immobilized them and made them incapable of accomplishing their evil intentions.
20:1-23. Having become persuaded of the irremedial nature of Saul’s hostility toward him, David sought to learn its source and to determine if there might be a means of reconciliation. The test would be Saul’s response to David’s absence from the New Moon feast (v. 5), held on the first day of every month (Num. 28:11-15). If Saul became upset about David’s absence, then David would know that there was no hope of patching up their differences. If, however, the king was amenable, then all was not lost (1 Sam. 20:6-8). Jonathan would approach his father on the matter and communicate the results to David by signaling with arrows (vv. 18-23).
20:24-42. At first Saul... thought David was absent because he was ceremonially unclean (v. 26). But then Saul’s response was what David feared. After David’s absence on the second day, Saul was filled with rage toward David and also toward Jonathan (vv. 30, 33). As long as David lived, Saul said, there was no hope that his own dynasty would continue (v. 31). With heavy heart Jonathan signaled to David the next morning by his words to a boy and with arrows (vv. 34-40). Jonathan and David met and wept together (v. 41). It was obvious that friendship with Saul was impossible. But Jonathan said that his own bond of loyalty with David would never be broken (v. 42). Jonathan was giving up a kingdom for the love of a friend.
1 Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted greatly in David.
2 So Jonathan told David, saying, "My father Saul seeks to kill you. Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide.
3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you. Then what I observe, I will tell you."
1 "Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.
7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible.
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
6 You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.
10 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.
43 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
14 One of the servants told Nabal's wife Abigail: "David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us all the time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him."
32 David said to Abigail, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.
4 Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, "Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you.
5 For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?"
12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
19 From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you. 20 In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. 21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
6 So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, "As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed."
7 Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these things. So Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as in times past.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.
21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.
2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.
19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you." 21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the Lord." 22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.
11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
30 Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed. 19:1 Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul's son, greatly delighted in David. 2 So Jonathan told David saying, “Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 “And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you; if I find out anything, then I shall tell you.” 4 Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. 5 “For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, by putting David to death without a cause?” 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these words. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as formerly.
The one thing Saul cannot stand in his servants is their success. Like Satan, Saul does not take well to being in second place (see Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). And so when the Israelite commanders go out to battle, David is among them (see 18:13), and he does better than all of them (18:30). Without intending to do so, David continues to grow in fame. His wisdom (undoubtedly the product of the Spirit; see 16:13) sets him apart from all the other commanders. He is a man highly esteemed.
This is just what Saul fears most. Abandoning his cloak and dagger tactics, Saul now orders his servants – including Jonathan – to kill David. Jonathan has made a covenant with David, which he most certainly does not intend to break. But the underlying reason Jonathan does David no harm is because he “greatly delighted in David.” Protecting David is more than Jonathan’s duty; Jonathan delights in David. He truly loves David as himself (18:1). Jonathan sets out then to reverse his father’s order to kill David. If need be, Jonathan will violate this command, but he would far rather reason with his father to revoke it. This he accomplishes in verses 1-7.
Jonathan first warns David, informing him of his father’s orders. He urges David to be on guard and hide himself until after he can speak to his father. Strangely, he tells David he will meet with his father in the very same area where David is to hide (verses 2-3). Is this so David can observe the whole thing? Does Jonathan want to assure David that nothing is going on behind his back? In addition, he promises to report the outcome of his discussion to David.
Jonathan’s dealings with his father on behalf of David are a model for us in several regards. First, we find here an example of a friend who loves his neighbor as himself. Confronting (or should we say “crossing”) Saul is dangerous business (see 16:2, 4; 20:33; 22:11-19), yet Jonathan does it. Second, Jonathan subordinates himself and his own personal interests (e.g. in the throne) to those of David (see 23:17). Third, Jonathan is a faithful and submissive son to his father, Saul. Jonathan approaches his father directly and speaks to him with respect. He speaks well of David. He appeals for David’s life on the one hand, but on the other he appeals to his father to do that which is in his own best interest. He reminds Saul that David is his most faithful and devoted servant, whose actions have always benefited Saul. He also reminds his father that when David killed Goliath, he rejoiced in David’s victory, because it was Saul’s victory as well (19:5). To act in a hostile manner against David would not be just or wise, and even worse, it would be sin, for it would be shedding innocent blood (19:4-5).
For the moment, Saul is persuaded by Jonathan’s reasoning. He swears that “as the Lord lives” David will not be put to death (verse 6). It is not a promise that will last long, but it is a temporary and partial admission of guilt on Saul’s part and a confession of David’s innocence. Jonathan calls David, tells him about the meeting with his father and its outcome, and then brings him back into his father’s presence. For a short time, at least, things are like they used to be (verse 7).
8 When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines, and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. 9 Now there was an evil spirit from the LORD on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. 10 And Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.
Saul seems to want to have it both ways: he does not seem eager to go out with his men to fight the Philistines, yet, when David goes out against the Philistines and comes back as a hero, Saul is overcome with jealousy and anger. There is no indication that Saul goes to war against the Philistines, but we do know that David goes, and that he wins a decisive victory (verse 8). This brings about a virtual rerun of chapter 18, verses 6-9. An “evil spirit from the Lord” comes upon Saul, who is sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. (David is in the house too, with a harp in his hand – verse 9.) Filled with jealousy, Saul attempts to pin David to the wall with his spear, but David somehow manages to slip away and escape from Saul’s presence into the darkness, thus escaping death one more time (verse 10).
The close relationship between Saul’s jealousy toward David, and the coming upon Saul of the “evil spirit from the Lord” in verse 9, is worth noting. We know that this “evil spirit from the Lord” comes upon Saul with the departure of the Holy Spirit (16:14-15). We also know that this spirit does not possess Saul to the same extent at all times. Formerly, when the spirit came upon Saul, David was summoned to play his harp, and the spirit would depart (16:23). While we know that David’s harp playing caused the spirit to leave Saul, we are not told why the spirit came upon him. Saul’s jealousy and anger may have been the cause of the spirit coming on him, perhaps even more than the result. When Saul is “filled with” with jealousy or anger, the spirit would come upon him at that time, when Saul was more vulnerable. When we surrender self-control, whether by anger, greed, drugs, or sexual immorality (to name a few examples), we open ourselves up to satanic or demonic influences. I believe this is why Saul is overcome by the evil spirit when he reacts uncontrollably to the success of David at war.
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/16-davids-divine-deliverance-1-samuel-1830-1924)
The three characters in this story illustrate positions people find themselves in today. Saul was a person in power who was abusing his position in doing wrong toward another. David, of lower status, was the innocent victim of that wrath. Jonathan was the one who risked sharing that wrath by standing up for the victim. He cared for both the wrongdoer and the wronged as he sought to end the conflict by reconciling them. Doing wrong and suffering wrong can lead to conflict. Hurt feelings can break relationships and end communication. Differences in status, such as employer-employee or parent-child, can make restoring relationships difficult. The one in power finds it difficult to admit wrong. The one of lower status does not feel safe to confront the enraged offender. At these times, restoration is practically impossible without an intermediary. At various times of conflict, we may find ourselves in any of the three roles. The boss who is rankled by the exceptional skill of an employee may feel threatened, becoming bitterly jealous in the process. Perhaps such a boss will belittle the employee or make sure that promotions or raises are not offered. The boss’s subordinate might be puzzled and feel wronged for trying to give the best effort. Someone who genuinely cares for both the boss and employee, and whom both parties trust, may be in a position to reconcile those in conflict. Finally, it must be emphasized that Jonathan, the peacemaker, was not the offender’s peer; Jonathan was subordinate to Saul both as a son and as a subject of the king. Jonathan’s brave and respectful challenge of his own father and king serves as a model for us in handling conflict.
Loving God, Embracing His Will - God rejected Saul as King over Israel and sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the future heir to the throne. After David won several military victories for the nation, Saul grew jealous, even to the point of wanting David killed. However, Jonathan, Saul's son, understood God's plan and accepted it. David and Jonathan grew close, loving each other like brothers. Jonathan repeatedly went the extra mile for his friend to protect David from his father who wanted to kill him. Surprisingly, Jonathan, who would have been the successor to the throne, was at peace with God's choice and ultimate will.
Hatred Leads to Ill Intentions - Out of jealousy, King Saul sent David into battle several times with the Philistines, thinking he would be killed. However, God had different plans for David; he returned to the king as a victor rather than a corpse. Saul continually tried to take matters into his own hands. He ordered Jonathan and all those who served in his court to murder David.
Love Takes Risks - However, Jonathan privately informed David of Saul's intentions. Jonathan assured David that he would speak up for him and see if Saul was earnest about his order. Jonathan attempted to reason with his father, reminding him of David's loyalty, how he was not a threat to Saul, but instead was courageous, faithful, and demonstrated integrity toward Saul and the nation. Jonathan added, his father would sin in murdering an innocent man. At this point, Saul temporarily listened to reason. He swore to his son and made an oath not to harm David. For the moment, David resumed his place in Saul's presence and palace.
God's Love Goes Over and Beyond - Jonathan went out on a limb for David. Sometimes a relationship will require for one or both parties to place themselves in a vulnerable position. When this happens, it exemplifies genuine godly friendship and Christ-like love.