The Philistine "Messiah" Goliath, in whom they trusted, was
covered with their technological might: metal. King Saul, who had a
Philistine heart, was very attached to his sword, his armor and particularly,
his spear. Jonathan and David were marked by their tendency to give
away their metal weapons. God used them mightily when they did. With
the exception of one Davidic moment, Saul clung to his. Ultimately,
he wound up falling on his own sword.
"Now the Israelites had been saying, "Do you see how this
man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give
great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter
in marriage and will exempt his father's family from taxes in Israel."
David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the
man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies
of the living God?" They repeated to him what they had been saying
and told him, "This is what will be done for the man who kills
him." (1 Samuel 17:25)
David confirmed every word in the mouths of at least two witnesses.
"When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the
men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come
down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert?
I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came
down only to watch the battle." (1 Samuel 17:28)
David was completely innocent of every accusation. He had been ultimately
faithful in every arena in which he was accused. But the Saul heart
in Eliab was afraid and angry because of its very nature. Saul knew
that the fleshly people enthusiastically hailed him as king partly because
of his height. They wanted someone TALL to go out in front of them and
fight their battles. At this point, while Goliath is asking for a volunteer
to fight him, it's no fun to be a tall Israelite with a Saul heart.
"Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?"
He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter,
and the men answered him as before."
(1 Samuel 17:29-30)
It is obvious that the giant killer did not fear Eliab; he turned away
because he was confident in who he was, not because he was afraid.
"What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul
sent for him. David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account
of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." (1 Samuel
David's shepherd heart caused him to immediately begin shepherding
someone needing his help, even if it was the king, the official shepherd
of Israel. Many of us are called to pastor our pastors, or father our
fathers, and yet be effectively unaware that we are doing so. David
had the utmost esteem and respect for Saul, even though he had reason
to be tempted to resent him. This is part of what it means to be "after
"Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine
and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from
his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been
keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off
a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep
from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck
it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear;
this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has
defied the armies of the living God." (1 Samuel 17:33-36)
The David heart is humble; therefore David was not humiliated or embittered
by being sent back, again and again, to the lowliest job in Israel:
shepherding. Since he fully trusted God, he knew the details of his
life were ordered by the Lord. Consequently, he was content in the place
assigned to him, and he was able to be blessed by God in that position.
He knew that God had called him to be king, so he knew he couldn't
die till he fulfilled his assignment. When he had seen beasts attacking
Jesse's sheep, he in turn attacked the beasts. He fully believed God
had placed him where he was, so God would surely enable him to do a
good job there. Consider this in light of the fact that Jesse had probably
been less than fair in his treatment of his youngest son. Yet, no place
on earth could have better prepared David for his show down with Goliath.
Alone with God in the sheep pastures, doing exploits against bears of
resentment and lions of fear - and all without an ounce of vainglory
because no one was watching - put him way ahead of all those guys that
were up on that hill trying to pump one another up, "shouting the
"The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw
of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." (1 Samuel
In the first chapter of this book, Hannah, the original "David
heart," was blessed by Eli, the original "Saul heart."
Both she and David had to convince their respective "Sauls"
of the rightness of their faith. When they were blessed by their "Sauls,"
God honored the blessing in both cases. If you are at this moment in
your life in some measure a "David," know that it is a good
thing to seek your "Saul's" blessing.
"Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor
on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword
over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to
them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because
I am not used to them." So he took them off." (1 Samuel 17:38-39)
The teenage David indulged the extremely tall Saul by trying on his
prized equipment. It must have looked ridiculous on him. Saul, for his
part, was having a semi-Davidic moment. He was touched by the simple
faith and the pure heart of the shepherd boy. Surely Saul was convicted
by his awareness that he was the most responsible, qualified, and equipped
person to do what David was volunteering to do. The description of his
effort to equip David in his own extra-large armor has a real pathos
about it. This is the only time he ever offered anyone any of his armaments
other than the business end of a spear.
"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones
from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with
his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine."
(1 Samuel 17:40)
The beginning of the end for Saul was Gilgal where he in effect worshipped
man at the altar of God. His course eventually carried him to full fledge
torment by a demon of fear. Being in the presence of the pure worship
of a David heart gave him an immediate deliverance, though it was both
borrowed and temporary. The demonic spirit of the fear of men could
not abide the Presence of the Spirit of the Love of God. David politely
turned down Saul's armor, and took up five stones, his staff, and his
An altar is a place where trust is placed in God. In Old Testament
times, an altar was generally constructed of unhewn stones. Wood was
then piled onto it, (a staff is made of wood). Then an animal was placed
on top, (a sling is made of leather, which is an animal skin). David
was carrying an altar into battle! He had "worshipped" a demon
out of Saul, and he was about to "worship" a demonic manifestation
out of Israel! Contrast the forged metallic weapons of men, which must
be mined out of the dark earth, heated, beaten, and shaped by man's
might, with the things only God can make: stones, wood, and animal skin!
"Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of
him, kept coming closer to David." (1 Samuel 17:41)
Goliath and his armor bearer were Satan's answer to Jonathan and his
armor bearer showing themselves to the Philistines in chapter 14. But
when Jonathan attacked the detachment of Philistines, he put himself
in front of his armor bearer. Goliath, however, hid behind his armor
"He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and
handsome, and he despised him." (1 Samuel 17:42)
"he despised him." A Saul heart always despises
a David heart, and Goliath was a caricature of Saul. Saul's daughter
would later despise David, and her reward was barrenness (2 Samuel 6:16-23).
Goliath despised David, and it cost him his life!
"He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with
sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come
here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of
the air and the beasts of the field!" (1 Samuel 17:43-44)
Jonathan attacked a Philistine detachment without any strategy other
than pure faith. David, by contrast, approached the giant with a strategy,
and yet, this too was pure faith. He, like Jonathan, had his staff in
one hand, and I believe he was shaking it menacingly at Goliath as though
he were about to give him a good "whupping"! He was enraging
and distracting the proud giant. He didn't want him to notice that rolled
up in his other hand was his sling, with its pocket outermost, ready
to have a stone placed in it. He was trying to infuriate the giant,
and make him so indignant that he would have to stop and look David
I believe when Goliath stopped to check out this obviously foolish
child they had sent out to fight him, he raised his face shield, the
thing that had protected him from Israelite missiles heretofore. And
I believe that in the heat of his rage, he forgot to lower it again!
Thus, Goliath was fooled into forgetting to cover his head fully. Saul
had left himself uncovered on his last trip to Gilgal by his disobedience.
And a scrawny old prophet had knocked a demon right out of Agag's head
into Saul's own heart - using his own sword! I also believe that David
was deliberately acting like a mentally defective person. You will see
"David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with
sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the
Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
(1 Samuel 17:45)
"sword and spear and javelin," represented an unholy
trinity of the real god of Philistia, their advanced metallurgy. "Lord
Almighty, the God
" is the English rendering of three names
for the Triune God: "Yahweh Saba Elohim." David boiled the
conflict down to its true essence!
"This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you
down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine
army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole
world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here
will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for
the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward
the battle line to meet him." (1 Samuel 17:46-48)
[With David in motion, it was hard for Goliath to see that he had dropped
his staff, and
"Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and
struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead,
and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine
with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down
the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took
hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After
he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword."
(1 Samuel 17:49-51a)
The Divine Author emphasized that it wasn't a sword that killed Goliath.
He made it plain that it wasn't Philistine technology, but a Jewish
"altar stone" that killed the monster. At the same time, the
giant's sword was used to carve up his carcass. There was Divine poetic,
prophetic justice in this. "The Philistine," who was a caricature
of Saul, had his javelin on his back and his sword still in its scabbard
when he was killed. Therefore, we can deduce that Goliath was going
to try to kill David with his spear. This was also the weapon of choice
of Saul. And tragically, Saul hurled it at a David heart four times.
By God's grace, his aim was no better than the giant's. Also, unlike
most of the pictures you see painted of this legendary scene, the giant
"fell facedown." This was the same stance Dagon took before
the Ark of the Covenant.
"When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned
and ran." (1 Samuel 17:51b)
It seems that none of the Saul hearts kept their promises to David!
Goliath had promised that if he was defeated, his army would surrender.
"Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout
and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates
of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and
Ekron. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they
plundered their camp. David took the Philistine's head and brought it
to Jerusalem, and he put the Philistine's weapons in his own tent."
(1 Samuel 17:52-54)
Jerusalem was, at this time, a fortress city under the control of the
Jebusites. They were hostile to the Israelites, especially warriors
carrying giant's heads. Their watchmen would certainly have closed their
gates when they saw David coming. Quite possibly, David, being as prophetic
as he was, may have had inside information that one day Jerusalem would
be his. Possibly he carried the head of Goliath to them as if to serve
them notice, and say, "you're next!!" If they wouldn't let
him in the city, maybe he threw the Philistine's head down on a hill
just outside the gates. Maybe they were superstitious and feared to
move it. Maybe that hill became known as "the place of the skull."
Maybe the demonic spirit in Goliath hated being tricked
by David and his staff at Ephes Dammim. Maybe the same spirit that was
in Goliath wanted to exact a particular kind of vengeance on David's
Greater Son, Jesus Christ. A staff was thrust into the Son of Davids'
hands and then jerked back, and used to beat the crown of thorns down
into His scalp. Maybe there is a connection here.
In the last verses of this chapter the Divine Author wrote in something
similar to an "instant replay" after the plunder of the Philistines.
It lets us see what was happening with Saul as David attacked Goliath.
"As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said
to Abner, commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is that young
man?" Abner replied, "As surely as you live, O king, I don't
know." The king said, "Find out whose son this young man is."
As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him
and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine's
head. "Whose son are you, young man?" Saul asked him. David
said, "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem."
(1 Samuel 17:55-58)
Saul had actually forgotten David's name. He had "despised"
him in the passive sense of the word. Heretofore, he really could not
see David, for David did not rank in his economy of things. But we may
be confident Saul found it a lot easier to remember the kid holding
the fifty pound giant's head!
Before we leave this wonderful chapter, let me point out something really
neat God dropped in this passage: In chapter 16, David was anointed
with oil in the presence of his father and of one prophet. Then he drove
a demon out of Saul that no one else could handle. Then, in chapter
17 he ascertained, (twice), that his whole family would be free from
taxation if he kills the giant.
In Matthew 17 Jesus was anointed with light in the presence of His
Father and two prophets. Then He drove out a demon no one else could
handle. Lastly, in this same chapter 17, Jesus ascertained that he didn't
really owe the temple tax. In His perfect humility, He conceded to pay
God is amazing.
Two Spears and Two Daughters
(1 Samuel 18)
Chapters eighteen, nineteen and twenty constitute another triad of
chapters. They are the "Spears of Saul" triad.
"After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one
in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself."
(1 Samuel 18:1)
Saul talked. Jonathan became one in spirit.
A question presents itself: If Jonathan had been willing to climb a
cliff with a virtual "firing squad" of twenty Philistines
at the top, why didn't he take on Goliath?
I believe Jonathan had made the connection in his spirit that every
time he trusted God, and God really moved, something weird would happen
to his father. In chapter thirteen, Jonathan attacked the Philistines,
and his father was rebuked by Samuel shortly thereafter. Jonathan then
tried to fix things by taking his armor bearer with him and attacking
the Philistines again. The result was that his father spoke a death
curse that was supposed to result in the death of either Saul or Jonathan.
I don't think it was clear in Jonathan's mind, but the presence of the
Lord was consistently bringing Saul to a place of judgment that was
painful for his loving and loyal son to see. I believe he hesitated
when Goliath challenged Israel because he couldn't bear to see a re-run
of the kind of fiascos that had transpired in chapters thirteen and
Jonathan was extremely courageous. He did not, however, fully understand
a concept that Jesus later spelled out for us. It goes something like
this: "if you're going to love God, you will have to be ready to
do some things that will make it appear that you hate some of your family
members," (my translation).
If Jonathan could have mustered the faith to "hate" his father,
he would have been able to save him, as we will see. He would also have
"From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return
to his father's house." (1 Samuel 18:2)
(This was supposed to have been David's reward when he got rid of Saul's
"And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him
as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to
David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt."
(1 Samuel 18:3)
Jonathan again gave away his sword. He would have given David his position
as heir to the throne, had he that option. Jonathan's "David heart"
guided him faithfully.
"Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that
Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people,
and Saul's officers as well. When the men were returning home after
David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns
of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs
and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: "Saul
has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." Saul
was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David
with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands.
What more can he get but the kingdom?" And from that time on Saul
kept a jealous eye on David."
(1 Samuel 18:5-9)
Again, Saul's god was the praise of man, (in this case, of women!).
The kingship for Saul was only a means to the end of receiving the adulation
of the masses.
"The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.
He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as
he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand." (1 Samuel 18:10)
Most commentators say "prophesying" in contexts like this
has reference to an ecstatic utterance of praise. (See First Samuel
10:5). This seems to fit. Saul was "prophesying" while David
was playing. "As he usually did" means this was not the first
time this had happened. I believe Saul got free from the evil spirit
that was "terrifying" him by worshipping God with David, but
Saul wasn't able to worship the Lord when a sacrifice of his own flesh
was being called for. He desired more than anything else to be praised
by his men. Though David's ratings with the singers put murder in Saul's
heart, somehow this didn't stop Saul from "prophesying." Sadly,
the one thing that was delivering him from fear before (the worship
of God) had now become something he was faking in order to try to "rub
out" his main competition for the people's praise! Thus, his fear
of man had cut off his only avenue of deliverance from the fear of man.
Consequently, the "evil spirit" (an intelligent, though diabolical
entity) came on him forcefully. The spirit was "from God"
because it was coming because of Who God Is. (At the same time, because
of "Who God Is," it was thwarted in its effort to kill David!)
The original Hebrew here is something like:
"David was playing the harp with his hand, while Saul held a spear
in his hand." The contrast is dramatic. The thing in their hands
was also in their hearts.
"And he hurled it, saying to himself, "I'll pin David to
the wall." But David eluded him twice." (1 Samuel 18:11)
Pinning someone to the wall is an extreme picture of ultimate control,
which is witchcraft. Saul was trying to control his perceived problems
by his carnal strength. Also, he was attacking David with a spear while
the boy was worshipping Jehovah. This was Tall Goliath's mistake. The
giant intended to skewer the boy carrying an altar, (wood, stones, and
an animal skin). All the confidence of Philistia was vested in Goliath.
Similarly, Israel had asked for a king
"such as all the
other nations have
" Enter Tall Saul, the one in whom they
had vested all their hopes. The "wrath of God" on Israel was
to give them what they asked for. Goliath was the logical end of a road
on which a Saul is the beginning. By insisting on a king
as all the other nations have
" Israel, God's Covenant people,
got a king who persecuted the king God had intended to give them. If
Abraham and Sarah could have stood being childless a little longer,
Isaac would not have had to grow up in the dark shadow of "tall
Ishmael." The Nation Israel in Saul's day bumped its head on the
same rock that their forbearers had when they refused to wait for a
king. At this point in Israel's history they were being confronted with
the consequences of their impatience.
"David eluded him twice."
David believed that if God had promised him something that was as yet
unfulfilled, then he couldn't die till it happened. David was totally
aware that he had been promised the kingship, insofar as being unafraid
of death was concerned. On another level, David was oblivious to the
fact that he was supposed to be king. He acted as though Saul was the
best thing since sliced bread! He was continually trying to shepherd
Saul from a stance of total meekness. Though Saul threw the spear twice,
David didn't even leave the premises. He was totally devoid of fear.
Saul, by contrast:
"Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but
had left Saul." (1 Samuel 18:12)
David seemed to have much to fear, and feared nothing. Saul had nothing
to fear, and feared the very one trying to help him most!
"So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand
men, and David led the troops in their campaigns." (1 Samuel 18:13)
This verse confirms that David did not even leave Saul's presence when
he threw the spear at him a second time. David was still there for Saul
to send out.
"In everything he did, he had great success, because the Lord
was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of
him." (1 Samuel 18:14-15)
David was destroying the thing that threatened Saul most, the Philistines,
and yet this made Saul more afraid.
"But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in
their campaigns. Saul said to David, "Here is my older daughter
Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and
fight the battles of the Lord ." For Saul said to himself, "I
will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!"
(1 Samuel 18:16-17)
Merab was supposed to have been given to David as part of his reward
for killing Goliath. Saul did not have enough character to keep his
word. David had too much character to remind him of his obligation,
though he had twice confirmed what his reward was to be before he slew
the giant. Saul was saying, "If you will keep killing lots of Philistines,
I'll give her to you. "Merab" means "increase."
Saul presumed David was like himself. He presumed he would jump at the
chance to "increase" his status by marrying the king's daughter.
Saul also believed in odds. He thought that if he could keep David on
the front lines, his luck would run out and eventually he'd be killed.
David didn't believe in odds. He believed in God.
"But David said to Saul, 'Who am I, and what is my family or my
father's clan in Israel, that I should become the king's son-in-law?'"
(1 Samuel 18:18)
It is clear that David knew Merab was owed to him, and yet his humility
was so great that he did not let himself know what he knew too much.
This was similar to his full awareness that he was to be king, and yet
on another level, it was the furthest thing from his mind. The David
heart is a pure heart. He considered himself and his family totally
unqualified for royalty, and yet he, along with most of Israel, was
aware that the first king was supposed to come from Judah, David's tribe.
It is a good thing not to know what you know too much. The father of
John the Baptist was told that John was the fulfillment of the one coming
in the spirit of Elijah, (Luke 1:17). So John, doubtless, also knew.
Yet when he was asked if he was the "Elijah," he seemed to
not know that he was, (John 1:21).
Did you hear about the guy who received a medal for being humble, but
he was wise enough not to wear it?
Don't know what you know too much.
"So when the time came for Merab, Saul's daughter, to be given
to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah." (1 Samuel
David's humility delivered him from a snare, (being married to Saul's
daughter), and it is implied that Saul agreed that, "Yeah, David's
right. He probably isn't good enough to be my son-in-law."
"Now Saul's daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they
told Saul about it, he was pleased. "I will give her to him,"
he thought, "so that she may be a snare to him and so that the
hand of the Philistines may be against him." So Saul said to David,
"Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.'"
(1 Samuel 18:20-21)
Saul at this point set a new record for attempts at manipulation. His
plan was to kill David by the Hand of Jehovah! His concept of God was
so low that he didn't believe God knew what he, (Saul), was doing or
why. He saw God as an angry, raging force to be controlled to one's
own advantage. Though he surely wasn't thinking about it this way, he
was trying to trick Jehovah like David tricked Goliath! He believed
that if David became one flesh with a wicked woman, (Michal, his daughter,
was a full-fledged idol worshipper, as we will see), that God would
blindly pour out His wrath on him! This was extreme presumption! It
is similar to the attitude of a person who might rub blood on someone
and then throw them into a shark tank in order to kill them. Saul saw
God as a mindless shark, an impersonal, unreasoning force! Wild as this
mindset sounds, it's not so very far from the madness of the man who
can praise God while taking aim at the worship leader!
Have you ever gone through the motions in a worship service while resenting,
or lusting after, or envying someone on the worship team? I have. God
help me! Saul was terribly and tragically wrong about Who God Is. And
yet he had a basic insight in another area we would do well to partake
Few of us understand how true it is that in marital union the souls
of the partners are somehow mingled.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be
united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?
Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?
Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute
is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one
flesh." (1 Corinthians 6:15-16)
Obviously these passages do not mean two people are physically grafted
into one body. This means that somehow the flesh minds, (the souls),
of sex partners become one. The single most difficult concept in this
book for you to accept will likely be this: God chose to let Saul succeed
in doing something to
David that was exceedingly useful in demonstrating His ways. Said differently,
what happens to David will show us dramatically Who God Really Is, and
what a heart that is after His Heart looks like.
The thing Saul succeeded in doing was this: he made David temporarily
like himself. Sleeping with Michal caused David to temporarily believe
in outward appearances. After he was away from her for a time, (maybe
three days), David would suddenly wake up and revert to the David heart
again. More on this later. Consider also the following verses where
the marital relationship is compared to drinking water:
"Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own
well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water
in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with
strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the
wife of your youth." (Proverbs 5:15-18)
An hour after you drink a glass of water, it is present in every cell
of your body. You and the glass of water will have become one. Now,
back to our story:
"Then Saul ordered his attendants: "Speak to David privately
and say, 'Look, the king is pleased with you, and his attendants all
like you; now become his son-in-law.' They repeated these words to David.
But David said, "Do you think it is a small matter to become the
king's son-in-law? I'm only a poor man and little known." (1 Samuel
Insofar as David was "poor," it was only so because the "great
wealth" promised him for killing Goliath had not been forthcoming.
However, the fact that Saul was his debtor was far from David's mind.
He was also well-known for his exploits by this time, though he desired
man's praise so little, he had not noticed his new status. Also, he
was again oblivious to the fact that Saul already owed him a daughter.
"When Saul's servants told him what David had said, Saul replied,
"Say to David, 'The king wants no other price for the bride than
a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.' Saul's
plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines." (1
Though David had already paid for Michal with Goliath's head, Saul
offered him a conditional sales contract whereby he could pay for her
again. He believed that the odds would have to catch up with David,
his luck would run out, and a Philistine spear would find the target
his own spear had missed. We will see in verse 26 that in addition to
these conditions, Saul actually put a time limit on his offer in order
that David would be under time pressure.
In chapter fourteen Saul called a carnal fast in which he said: "Cursed
be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged
myself on my enemies!" He had spoken of his motive as holy vengeance,
though it was really a hunger for status. The result was that a tremendous
move of God was hobbled, partly because his troops were made physically
weak. In this passage he was again giving holy vengeance as his motive
and he was again actually working to shore up his status. The result
this time was going to turn out to be similar to the previous time,
for David, a living, walking, breathing "move of God," was
about to be made spiritually weak.
Before, the fast resulted in Saul pronouncing a death curse on himself.
This time, the curse he is able to put into effect on David will weaken
David's ability to oppose the Philistines. Thus the Philistines were
restrained less than they would have been, and they were ultimately
able to kill Saul, which fulfilled the curse Saul had spoken on himself
in chapter 14. This is how curses actually work. To defy the ways of
the Giver of Life is to embrace death.
"When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to
become the king's son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, David
and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought
their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he
might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter
Michal in marriage."
(1 Samuel 18:26-27)
Saul must have been stunned that David's luck had not run out, even
when David killed twice as many Philistines as he had asked for, and
within "the allotted time." But he still had another card
up his sleeve. He believed that when David actually began to sleep with
Michal, he would become like her, and thus he would incur the wrath
As an aside, I believe David taking 200 Philistines foreskins is a
picture of the Son of David. The Christ had to be able to deal with
the filth of the flesh in order to take a bride to His side. He will
do twice as good a job as the flesh ever dared ask for, and He will
"before the allotted time [has] elapsed." He will
have a bride
"without spot or wrinkle."
"When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his
daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and
he remained his enemy the rest of his days. The Philistine commanders
continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with
more success than the rest of Saul's officers, and his name became well
(1 Samuel 18:28-30)
Deceiving and Being Deceived
(1 Samuel 19)
Each chapter heretofore has laid the groundwork for the succeeding chapters.
We now have enough background laid to get a feel for the size of the
picture God is painting here.
"Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David.
But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him, "My father
Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow
morning; go into hiding and stay there."
(1 Samuel 19:1)
There was at this point a spirit of murder on Saul, but he was not
as yet entangled in a spirit of deceit. He was trying to kill David,
but he was not trying to hide it from anyone. By the end of this chapter,
this has changed.
"I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you
are. I'll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out."
Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, "Let
not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you,
and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in
his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory
for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do
wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?"
Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: "As surely as the
Lord lives, David will not be put to death." (1 Samuel 19:3-6)
At this moment Saul was not only without overt deceit, he was entreatable.
His favorite son was able to bring logic and truth to bear and expose
the obvious insanity of his intentions. Saul even swore an oath which
was embedded with more truth than he knew: He swore David's life was
as safe as God's.
"So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation.
He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before. Once more
war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck
them with such force that they fled before him." (1 Samuel 19:7-8)
It seems that whenever David struck the Philistines, Saul yelled, "Ouch!"
He wanted the Philistines killed, but he wanted even more to be the
most honored man in the kingdom. This attention to outward appearances
was a Philistine attitude. Therefore, because Saul had what was really
a Philistine spirit, he unwittingly moved to preserve the Philistines.
"But an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he was sitting
in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the
harp," (1 Samuel 19:9)
This verse is intentionally similar to the tenth verse of the previous
chapter. We are seeing a repetition of a previous scene, as scientists
say, with only one "variable" changed: David's heart.
"Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded
him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good
his escape." (1 Samuel 19:10)
"Made good his escape" is the Lord specifying that David
did not stay around to give Saul a second shot this time. Saul did not
re-commission him and send him off to the front lines as he did before.
David was not around to send. David, who was now married to Michal,
had now received, temporarily, a Saul heart! He was no longer certain
he could not die before he had become king.
"Saul sent men to David's house to watch it and to kill him in
the morning. But Michal, David's wife, warned him, "If you don't
run for your life tonight, tomorrow you'll be killed."
(1 Samuel 19:11)
Though this warning sounds like the words of a loving wife, it is much
more than that. She was indeed doing her best to save David, but she
was a true daughter of Saul. Her warning was saying that he had to protect
himself, for God would not protect Him if he didn't. The old David-heart-David
would have stayed in Saul's court, which would have cast brilliant light
on Saul's darkness. "The righteous are as bold (confident) as a
lion," but the Saul-heart David ran like a rabbit!
"So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped."
(1 Samuel 19:12)
Why would the Holy Spirit give us this seemingly inconsequential detail
about the window? What difference does his route of escape make? Second
Samuel 6:16 says that Michal watched David worshipping God "from
a window," and from that point despised him. The despising of the
David-heart by the Saul-heart was, and is, pure witchcraft! In both
of these cases Michal effected her power through a window. [I repeat,
Michal here meant to save David's life. But she was preaching Saulish
unbelief.] The Lord linked the two "window scenes" together
to cue us to their spiritual similarity! David has here been conned
into trying to save his own life, a dangerous practice indeed. If you
doubt me, read on.
The plot thickens!
"Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it
with a garment and putting some goats' hair at the head."
(1 Samuel 19:13)
A Hebrew word sometimes translated "demons" in the Old Testament
is literally "goat idols." With that in mind, we come to an
amazing insight into Who God Is. Saul believed that his daughter would
be "a snare" to David. ("The fear of man brings a snare")
He believed he should make arrangements for the holy shepherd boy to
be immersed and enmeshed in a marriage to a demon worshipper. He thought
that surely Jehovah would smite the polluted vessel that David would
become. But God, of course, knew Saul was ignorantly operating as though
the Lord knew nothing of his plans.
God's response was the purest and most poetic justice. Though the Lord
let Saul succeed in demonizing David, He made it look to Saul as though
a demon (the idol) and Michal had worked together to save David from
Saul's hands! The Lord was going to ultimately frustrate Saul's every
attempt to manipulate Himself and His power. Unfortunately for Saul,
he was slow to see what God was rubbing in his face!
Four centuries after Saul's time, Ezekiel had an experience and a revelation
that spoke to the heart of what was happening with certain idolaters
in his day. It also applies to King Saul, the spiritual ancestor of
the idolaters of Ezekiel's time.
Ezekiel 14: 1-8
"Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front
of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, these
men have set up idols in their hearts and have put wicked stumbling
blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore
speak to them and tell them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts up a wicked stumbling
block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the Lord will answer
him in keeping with his great idolatry. I will do this to recapture
the hearts of the people of Israel, who have deserted me for their idols.'
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign
Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable
practices.' "'When any Israelite or alien living in Israel separates
himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling
block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I
the Lord will answer him myself. I will set my face against that man
and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people.
Then you will know that I am the Lord. And if a prophet is enticed to
utter a prophecy, I the Lord have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch
out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel."
Because Saul's heart did not really know or love the Lord, he was not
"after His heart." When he inquired of the Lord, it was only
because he had some angle he was pursuing which made it advantageous
to inquire of God, or at least to be thought by men to be inquiring
of God. Thus, as it says above, he had "separate[d] himself from
[God]." This was the very essence of idolatry, the very thing Samuel
had charged him with at Gilgal. If you inquire of God for carnal advantage,
bet on it: you will surely hear from God! And he will speak something
to you that will surely break you, because His intent is "to recapture
the hearts of the people of Israel."
"When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, "He
is ill."" (1 Samuel 19:14)
[It's written between the lines that Michal took Saul's men to a bedroom
door and pointed to a bed that appeared to have an "ill man"
in it. All they really saw was a form under some cover with some black
goats hair sticking out where the head of the "ill man" should
"Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, "Bring
him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him." But when the men
entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats'
hair. Saul said to Michal, "Why did you deceive me like this and
send my enemy away so that he escaped?" Michal told him, "He
said to me, 'Let me get away. Why should I kill you?'"" (1
Those who do not love the truth will eventually love deceit. They will
"go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Saul
first put his daughter Michal in such a place so as to force her to
deceive her father or see her husband killed. Then he put her in the
place of having to choose between facing her own death at her father's
hands or deceiving him by vilifying David. She chose to lie to her father,
knowing full well of David's innocence. She also knew fully her father's
eagerness to be deceived into believing David had threatened his daughter,
which he had "so graciously" given to the shepherd boy! Thus
had Saul actually "witchcrafted" himself [through Michal]
into a demonic stronghold of self-deceit. He could, from this point
on, ignore what he knew with his heart, and focus on what his daughter
had witnessed against David. This is what Ezekiel called "separating"
from God. All the Saul hearts in the books of Samuel eventually were
separated from their heads - they were decapitated or their necks broken.
It goes without saying: God is our Head.
It was now Saul's duty as a father to hunt down David and kill him!
He who was trying to use witchcraft as a weapon was falling on his own
sword. And he believed he was serving his own interests in doing so.
Some advice that will serve you well: Don't be surprised when persons
in a panic or a rage lie to you. When those two war horses are loosed,
truth is quickly trodden down in the streets.
This thinly veiled threat Saul made against Michal was followed by
an increase in the strength of the stronghold in Saul's soul. It was
a sad sequel to the thinly veiled threat Saul made against Samuel at
Gilgal, which was followed by an evil spirit being loosed on him.
"When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at
Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel
went to Naioth and stayed there."
(1 Samuel 19:18)
Once David began running from Saul, he could find no place to stop.
He could no longer muster the faith to abide in Jehovah in Saul's house,
ignoring whizzing spears. Michal had said, "He is ill." He
was indeed an "ill" man. He was "temporarily insane"
with a Saul heart. For the first time in his life he had come to believe
in outward appearance. This will be important later.
Think of this: Saul planned to use Michal, her demons, and her marriage
bed to make David become one flesh, (and one soul), with his daughter,
thus weakening him. Instead of Saul's plan succeeding, Jehovah saw to
it that not only did it seem that David was saved from Saul's murderous
intentions by one of Michal's idols/demons, he was also saved by Michal's
"Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah," so
he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying,
with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon
Saul's men and they also prophesied."
(1 Samuel 19:19-20)
Samuel, in his later years, had established a school of the prophets
where worship was as strong as it had been when David worshiped God
in Saul's house. Saul's men, who had been sent to arrest David, were
paralyzed by the presence of God at this "school." But you
can be sure, God was going to save the overwhelmed and confused David
regardless of how He had to do it. The Judge of all the Earth is the
only One who can know for sure when a person is an incorrigible Saul,
and when they are a David temporarily overwhelmed by a Saul spirit.
"Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied
too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied." (1
Saul believed very little in the invisible, though he had experienced
it himself. He thought that if he kept throwing enough troops, (with
enough spears), that David's luck would have to run out, and one of
his men would manage to kill David. Finally he said to himself, "I
CAN DO THIS! I can place one foot in front of the other and I can go
kill David myself!"
"Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern
at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?" "Over
in Naioth at Ramah," they said."
(1 Samuel 19:22)
This is very important. Saul drank from "the great cistern at
Secu." "Secu" means "surmount." I believe that
surmount in this context means, "I can surmount anything I set
my mind to. I can, by my own strength, be the master of my fate and
the captain of my soul. I am my own lord and I will take care of me."
Which, of course, is the song of those who serve outward appearance.
And Secu is a cistern. We will see later that it is significant that
the word "cistern" is used here, and that a man's wife is
called his "cistern" (Proverbs 5:15). As a glass of water,
once drunk, permeates your whole body, so this "secu spirit"
had become the thing Saul was drinking and was "married to."
Also notice in the above verse that it says
"Samuel AND David."
This is important for what we will read in the first verses of the next
"So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even
upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He
stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He
lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, "Is
Saul also among the prophets?""
(1 Samuel 19:23-24)
First Samuel is a tale of two hearts. It didn't matter how much God
did for Saul, if Saul refused to entrust himself to God, he was doomed
to die by his own hand. Saul had seen and felt so many God-things you
could hardly consider him to be an atheist. He had a certain kind of
"belief." He knew for sure God was there and He could do miracles.
But there is a second kind of belief he did not have, a kind of faith/belief/trust
that only David-hearts have.
In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus fed the five thousand. Afterward,
there was certainly not an unbeliever in the bunch! They were talking
of making him king by force. When Jesus seemed to disappear, they even
crossed the lake in search of him, just on an off chance of finding
him in Capernaum. And they did this, even though they had ascertained
that He had not been in any of the boats that had left their area. They
were convinced He had the capacity to have transported himself across
the lake without the benefit of a boat. When they did find him, they
immediately started trying to induce him to open the chow lines again.
They had absolutely no doubt of his power to do the miraculous, but
He refused to feed them. He basically said that if they wouldn't follow
Him without being fed by Him, then they didn't have what He called "belief."
This, the "Jesus kind of belief," says: "Lord, I have
'seen' you so I know you and love you. Therefore I will serve you for
nothing, if need be." This kind of belief is the essential nature
of the David heart. It is absolutely foreign to the Saul heart.
On the other hand, things happen to Davids. They seem to lapse into
a Saul heart at times. But it isn't permanent; it passes. David had
been conned into coming under a stronghold in the above chapter. But
his Lord knew that when he was away from Michal long enough, he would
revert to being who he really was. Furthermore, David was aware, at
least part of the time, that he had been "snared" by Saul.
Psalm 142, written by David in one of the caves he hid in while fleeing
from Saul, says: "...men have hidden a snare for me." He seemed
cognizant that his fear was hindering his ability to praise God, for
he wrote in the last verse: "Set me free from my prison that I
may praise your name." Thus, we see the originator of spiritual
warfare with his most trusted spiritual weapon (praise) knocked from
his hand. But he will recover. David will become David again.
"Only a Step from Death"
(1 Samuel 20)
"Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and
asked, "What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged
your father that he is trying to take my life?"
(1 Samuel 20:1)
In chapter 19, Saul was looking for both Samuel and David. They were
both potential targets of the paranoid Saul. When Saul was overcome
by the presence of God at Naioth, he "prophesied in Samuel's presence"
(see 1 Samuel 19:24). David, by divine contrast, had fled. Saul did
not harm Samuel. He couldn't. Had David stayed in Naioth, he would have
been as safe as Samuel-as safe as he had been when Saul missed him twice
with his spear-as safe as he had been while facing lions, bears, and
giants. But David had become enough like Saul that he was afraid for
his life. This was not the old David who trusted the invisible God.
Saul had successfully imposed his nature upon David.
"Never!" Jonathan replied. "You are not going to die!
Look, my father doesn't do anything, great or small, without confiding
in me. Why would he hide this from me? It's not so!" (1 Samuel
Something new was going on with Saul. He was under a spirit of deceit,
though Jonathan did not yet know it. He had never seen his father lie.
"But David took an oath and said, "Your father knows very
well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself,
'Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.' Yet as surely as
the Lord lives, and as you live, there is only a step between me and
death." (1 Samuel 20:3)
As I said, the oaths in Samuel are pregnant with meaning. David thought
he was only a step from death, and yet the Lord kept him from swearing
on God alone.
Before his marriage, David believed he was invulnerable because he
was dwelling in God. Even a giant was not a problem to the boy who believed
the omnipotent God had promised him something that was as yet unfulfilled.
At this point, however, David believed that only the quickness of his
feet had delivered him. He had begun to believe that staying alive was
something he had to take care of himself.
It was not true that there was only a step between David and death.
David was under the Lord's sovereign love and care, although he didn't
know it. He had been moved from his simple faith, and the Lord had allowed
him to be moved, but the Lord Himself had not moved an inch. Therefore
David was as safe as ever. So God sovereignly changed David's oath to
make it true-terribly, ironically true. David, without realizing it,
put a double condition on the oath: "as surely as the Lord lives
and as you live."
How secure was Jonathan's life? David's oath stated that as surely
as Jonathan lived, David was a step from death. But Jonathan's life
was not secure, which meant that David was not a step from death.
"Jonathan said to David, "Whatever you want me to do, I'll
do for you." So David said, "Look, tomorrow is the New Moon
festival, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and
hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. "If
your father misses me at all, tell him, 'David earnestly asked my permission
to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is
being made there for his whole clan.' "If he says, 'Very well,'
then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure
that he is determined to harm me. As for you, show kindness to your
servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the
Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your
father?" "Never!" Jonathan said. "If I had the least
inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn't I tell you?"
David asked, "Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?"
"Come," Jonathan said, "let's go out into the field."
So they went there together. Then Jonathan said to David: "By the
Lord, the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time
the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will
I not send you word and let you know? "But if my father is inclined
to harm you, may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I
do not let you know and send you away safely. May the Lord be with you
as he has been with my father." (1 Samuel 20:4-13)
Jonathan unwittingly put his finger on something: "May the Lord
be with you as he has been with my father." God was allowing the
same demons that had ruined Saul to come against David. The purpose
of this sequence in David's life was to show us that a David heart may
be manipulated into behaving like Saul for a time, but it will eventually
revert back to its true Davidic nature. Likewise, though Saul came under
God's Spirit several times, he always reverted back to his fleshly nature.
"But show me unfailing kindness like that of the Lord as long
as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your
kindness from my family - not even when the Lord has cut off every one
of David's enemies from the face of the earth." So Jonathan made
a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the Lord call
David's enemies to account." And Jonathan had David reaffirm his
oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon festival.
You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. "The day after
tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble
began, and wait by the stone Ezel. "I will shoot three arrows to
the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. "Then I
will send a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I say to him, 'Look,
the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,' then come, because,
as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. "But
if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrows are beyond you,' then you must
go, because the Lord has sent you away." (1 Samuel 20:14-22)
When Jonathan said, "because the Lord has sent you away,"
he was verbalizing his and David's belief that Yahweh was in charge
of whatever happened, through good men or bad.
And they were right.
"And about the matter you and I discussed-remember, the Lord is
witness between you and me forever." So David hid in the field,
and when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat. He sat
in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat
next to Saul, but David's place was empty. Saul said nothing that day,
for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make
him ceremonially unclean-surely he is unclean."
(1 Samuel 20: 23-25)
Notice that Saul was completely willing for David to be absent if it
was a matter of his keeping the law. He was planning to murder David,
but he didn't mind postponing it if that was what was necessary for
David to remain kosher!
Do you remember how the New Testament scribes would not go inside Pilate's
house in order to talk to him about murdering Jesus, the Son of David?
Pilate had to come out to them. He was a Gentile, and they didn't want
to become unclean right before Passover. They didn't mind murdering
God's Son, but they didn't want to be technically unclean! (John 18:28)
The most common way for a married person to become unclean was through
marital relations. It was not shameful to become unclean in this manner;
it was expected of married Jews. Cleansing from this uncleanness required
a twenty-four hour process, so Saul was not upset when newlywed David
was missing for one day. Saul was zealous for the ceremonial side of
the law. He was zealous for outward appearance.
The wonderful divine irony here is that David sleeping with Michal
was in fact the real issue, though in a different way than Saul thought.
Neither God nor man was really concerned with the technical uncleanness
that came with the marriage bed. But Saul had succeeded in making David
spiritually weak through Michal's bed. The hardest thing to accept in
this little book is, as strange as it sounds, Saul's own fears had come
upon David since he had "become one" with Michal. Saul thought
when he arranged the marriage that God would be angry with David for
marrying an idolatrous woman. Saul did not fully understand that Michal
had influenced David to the extent that he now fervently believed he
was "only a step from death." Saul also did not begin to understand
the depth of God's unfailing love that was going to deliver David despite
the demons of fear that had overtaken him.
Saul, and everyone else, was genuinely surprised that David hadn't
come back into their circle. They had reserved his chair for him. Saul
had a record of irrational behavior, and David had a record of dealing
with it. But this was not the David they had known before.
"But the next day, the second day of the month, David's place
was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't
the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?"
Jonathan answered, "David earnestly asked me for permission to
go to Bethlehem. "He said, 'Let me go, because our family is observing
a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If
I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.'
That is why he has not come to the king's table." (1 Samuel 20:
Jonathan was cringing inside as he defended David to Saul. He even
went to the extent of throwing in the bit about David being ordered
by Eliab to attend the feast. Jonathan didn't fully know his father's
intentions, and yet he suspected them. And he strove mightily to pacify
"Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You
son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided
with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother
who bore you? "As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth,
neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring
him to me, for he must die!" "Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?" Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his
spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended
to kill David."
(1 Samuel 20: 30-33)
Sin is not sane. In order to insure Jonathan's throne, Saul tried to
kill him? Again he used the spear, the preferred weapon of both Saul
Let's go further here: Saul was glad to see David keep the law with
regard to ritual uncleanness, but he had murder in his heart. In chapter
14 Saul was zealous about insuring that the men didn't eat meat with
blood in it, and a few verses later he is about to kill Jonathan. It
is beyond the scope of this book, but let me mention that in Second
Samuel 12 David had become a Saul heart when he committed adultery and
and yet he is very legalistic about assuring that the
man in Nathan's story who'd stolen a lamb pay back four fold to the
man it was taken from. The Saul heart is all about the letter of the
Law, but it cares little for the Spirit of the Law.
"Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second
day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father's
shameful treatment of David." (1 Samuel 20:34)
At the battle of Gilgal, Jonathan had been the only one not fasting,
and his father had threatened his life. Here he was the only one who
was fasting, and his father took a shot at him again. Have you gathered
by now that there's a pattern of Saul's fear weakening even the strong?
"In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting
with David. He had a small boy with him, and he said to the boy, "Run
and find the arrows I shoot." As the boy ran, he shot an arrow
beyond him. When the boy came to the place where Jonathan's arrow had
fallen, Jonathan called out after him, "Isn't the arrow beyond
you?" Then he shouted, "Hurry! Go quickly! Don't stop!"
The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master." (1 Samuel
This was not according to their planned set of signals. Jonathan was
beside himself with grief. He was not able to send David away without
talking to him one more time.
(The boy knew nothing of all this; only Jonathan and David knew) "Then
Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, "Go, carry them
back to town." (1 Samuel 20: 39-40)
Again, Jonathan gave his weapons away.
"After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the
stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the
" (1 Samuel 20:41)
The stone had already been named Ezel, and Ezel means "departure."
It was predestined in God that David would have to depart. And I don't
believe this note that David was on the south side of this particular
stone is there for nothing. The clan of the high priest was the Kohathite
clan and they camped on the south side of the tabernacle in Numbers
chapter three. Clearly, David is pictured throughout Samuel as one who
transcends the law, even as Christ did. Because of David's heart, he
was qualified to be even more intimate with God than the high priest's
"Then they kissed each other and wept together-but David wept
the most." (1 Samuel 20:41)
Did David weep the most because he had a spiritual instinct that his
friend was sliding toward a deadly precipice, and he was in no condition
to rescue him?
"Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn
friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord
is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants
forever.'" Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town."
(1 Samuel 20:42)
A Fake Demon and A Real God
(1 Samuel 21)
"David went to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled
when he met him, and asked, "Why are you alone? Why is no one with
you?" (1 Samuel 21:1)
Ahimelech trembled for the same reason the men of Bethlehem trembled
when Samuel came to visit in First Samuel 16. The Bethlehemites knew
that Samuel was on the wrong side of a dangerous man, King Saul. The
High Priest also knew it was hazardous to be seen as David's friend.
Fugitives are often alone, which made David look all the more dangerous.
But ultimately, David was alone because he was a David-heart in a Saul-kingdom.
David answered Ahimelech the priest, "The king charged me with
a certain matter and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about your
mission and your instructions. As for my men, I have told them to meet
me at a certain place."
(1 Samuel 21:2)
David obviously lied about having instructions from the king. But the
part about meeting up with his men must have been true because Jesus
later made reference to it (see Matthew 12:3-4).
"Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread,
or whatever you can find."
"But the priest answered David, "I don't have any ordinary
bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here-provided
the men have kept themselves from women." (1 Samuel 21:3-4)
A member of Eli's family, Ahimelech, like Saul, was zealous for the
ceremonial law. Amazingly, he was zealous for one law in particular,
and it was the same one Saul seemed preoccupied with. He was ready to
give David the consecrated bread as long as David and his men had not
recently had marital relations.
David replied, "Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual
whenever I set out. The men's things are holy even on missions that
are not holy. How much more so today!"
(1 Samuel 21:5)
Israelite warriors seemed to have a tradition of "fasting"
marital relations during military campaigns. That is what David is alluding
to here. (see also 2 Samuel 11:11)
"So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was
no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed
from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken
"Now one of Saul's servants was there that day, detained before
the Lord; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul's head shepherd." (1 Samuel
Doeg was having some kind of powerful spiritual encounter, (he was
"detained before the Lord"), that was keeping him immobilized
in or near the tabernacle. This scene is reminiscent of Saul being knocked
down by the Spirit of God at Naioth of Ramah. God was "tweaking"
the unfolding events here to make things go according to His plan. Doeg
was paralyzed in place so that he would overhear a certain conversation.
"David asked Ahimelech, "Don't you have a spear or a sword
here? I haven't brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king's
business was urgent."" (1 Samuel 21:8)
David lied to get bread because of his fear. He was also after the
"The priest replied, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine,
whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth
behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but
that one." David said, "There is none like it; give it to
me." (1 Samuel 21:9)
David had sunk so low that he took the ultimate Philistine weapon:
Goliath's sword. He now eagerly grasped the very sword that he had previously
described as useless against the God of Israel.
That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath.
"But the servants of Achish said to him, "Isn't this David,
the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances:
'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'?"
(1 Samuel 21:11)
Both Saul and the Philistines were very aware of David's reputation.
"David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish
king of Gath.
"So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was
in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of
the gate and letting saliva run down his beard."
(1 Samuel 21:12-13)
David had now hit bottom. He was helpless, and yet rather than trust
the Lord to deliver him, he stooped to the lowest of indignities. God
let His champion taste what it felt like to be, literally, in the hands
of the enemy. This was not the old David.
"Achish said to his servants, "Look at the man! He is insane!
Why bring him to me?
"Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here
to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?"
(1 Samuel 21:14-15)
Achish was a military man; why did he release David? Saul himself later
said, "if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely?"
(see First Samuel 24:19 NKJV) I believe the reason is as follows:
Demon possession was fairly common at this time, even as it was in
the days of Jesus. When God sent an army to destroy a group like the
Amalekites, they were killing many demonized people. The demons could
not go into the ones killing their hosts, for they did not have permission
to afflict those who were about God's business. But when Saul disobeyed
and took Agag and some of the Amalekite livestock home, he stepped out
of his divine hedge of protection, and, when Samuel executed Agag, Saul
immediately "caught" his demon and was terrorized by an "evil
I believe the Philistines were aware that killing a demon-possessed
person caused the demon to leave them and look around for a warm body
to inhabit! If Achish thought David had a demon, he could have foreseen
the possibility that killing David might cause David's demon to jump
on him. God in His mercy was allowing David to again be saved by a fake
demon, (David was FAKING insanity). And, just as Michal's idol, (a fake
demon) had saved him earlier, he is being saved by a "faked"
demon now! This was the awesome degree of the love God had for David
even while he was acting out of fear instead of trust.
David the Original "Comeback Kid"
(1 Samuel 22)
"David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his
brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to
him there." (1Samuel 22:1)
David's family had figured out that they were in danger. Saul's homicidal
tendencies were no longer in question, and when people's lives are at
stake, they tend to pay attention to such facts.
"All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered
around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were
"From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king
of Moab, "Would you let my father and mother come and stay with
you until I learn what God will do for me?""
(1 Samuel 22:2-3)
The main focus of much of First Samuel is hearing from God. At this
point, David was out of touch with God. He could not tell what God was
going to do, but he knew his parents were in danger, so he appealed
to the king of Moab. Jesse's grandmother was Ruth, a Moabitess, and
David was appealing to the strength of this kinship, for though it was
distant, it was all he had. His parents were certainly too old to be
on the run.
David's Path to Recovery:
"So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him
as long as David was in the stronghold.
"But the prophet Gad said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold.
Go into the land of Judah." So David left and went to the forest
of Hereth." (1 Samuel 22:4-5)
God had begun to speak to David again. God told him through the prophet
Gad to do something typical of God's nature: leave a stronghold. When
David obeyed this word from the Lord that required trusting Him, he
was on his way toward total recovery. He would soon again be the man
we so admire.
David had been away from Michal's influence almost long enough to be
able to trust God rather than focusing on outward appearances. God's
timing is perfect. He will not tell us to do something He has not given
us the faith to carry out.
"Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And
Saul, spear in hand, was seated under the tamarisk tree on the hill
at Gibeah, with all his officials standing around him." (1 Samuel
The paranoid Saul was still clinging to his spear, trying to keep his
men close, lest they also desert him.
"Saul said to his servants, "Listen, men of Benjamin! Will
the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make
all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds?
"Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me
when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned
about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait
for me, as he does today.""
(1 Samuel 22:7-8).
Was David offering them all bribes? Were Saul's men conspiring against
him? Was the fugitive David lying in wait for him? Saul's men were not
stupid. They knew he was tormented by his unreasonable fears. Since
this passage says that all of Saul's officials were standing around
him, we can presume that Jonathan his son was there. Would he accuse
Jonathan of homicidal treason to his face? Yes. In fact, he accused
every man there of conspiracy to depose him! I believe this sealed Jonathan's
fate. He was mortally wounded by his father's accusation. Not long after
this, he perished at his father's side, felled by false guilt, primarily
because of what happened on this fateful day.
The tamarisk tree, mentioned in verse 6 above, has the peculiar ability
to concentrate salt in its leaves. As the leaves fall off and are incorporated
into the surrounding soil, the soil becomes increasingly salty. Salt
is deadly to most other plants. Thus the tamarisk tree creates its own
poverty, its own desert, and its own isolation. Saul was doing the same.
"But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul's officials,
said, "I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelech son of Ahitub at
"Ahimelech inquired of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisions
and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
"Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and
his father's whole family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all
came to the king." (1 Samuel 22:9-11)
"Saul said, "Listen now, son of Ahitub." "Yes,
my lord," he answered.
"Saul said to him, "Why have you conspired against me, you
and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of
God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for
me, as he does today?""
(1 Samuel 22:12-13)
Notice that Doeg listed inquiring of God first and Saul listed it last.
Saul knew in his heart that if a man inquires of God, and God gives
him His council, he is on good terms with God. This was certainly bearing
on Saul's mind, for his whole purpose in inquiring of God was to be
seen by men. Saul played down the fact that Ahimelech inquired of the
Lord for David. Saul presumed that God had given David His council.
This angered and embarrassed Saul. He, the king, was supposed to have
more access to God through the high priest than anyone in the kingdom,
but at no time had Saul ever inquired of God and gotten an answer!
Chapter 20 told us that David asked for a sword and for bread, but
it did not mention that he inquired of God. We know he did because of
what Doeg said and because the doomed Ahimelech confirmed it in the
"Ahimelech answered the king, "Who of all your servants is
as loyal as David, the king's son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard
and highly respected in your household?
"Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course
not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father's family,
for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.""
(1 Samuel 22:14-15)
Not only did Ahimelech confirm that he inquired of God for David, he
made it plain that David had made a practice of going to the tabernacle
for this very purpose.
When David inquired of God with the spirit of Saul on him, I don't
believe he got a response. Saulish David couldn't hear from God any
better than Saul. When David left the tabernacle he was more spiritually
disoriented than ever. He went to Gath pretending to be a madman, which
proved to be the most humiliating experience of his life. This was not
the action of one who had just received the counsel of the Almighty.
When he left Gath, he said he was still unable to learn what God would
do for him.
More importantly, when he inquired of the Lord through Ahimelech, he
was treating God like Saul treated God. David had selfish motives for
inquiring of the Lord. He wanted to use God to get information with
which he could save himself from supposed danger. He didn't think God
would notice that he knew that inquiring of the Lord in Doeg's presence
was greatly endangering Ahimelech and his family.
The greatest difference between the Saul heart and the David heart
is as follows:
Saul's inability to manipulate God made him pull into himself. Because
his predetermined goal, or god, was the approval of his men, there was
a fierce pain in his heart when he was humiliated by his efforts to
gain their favor. Instead of repenting and throwing himself on the God
he had offended, Saul recoiled in his soul from God. He made Jehovah
a lesser god than the approval of men. He did not trust the Lord to
help him get what he wanted, so he withdrew from all trust in the Lord.
David found himself incredibly humiliated as well (the trip to Gath
was a real low moment), but the rejection of men was not so sharp a
pain to him. For him, the memory of the times he had spent in the presence
of the Lord had "ruined" him in a good way. Though he found
himself in the throes of the same demonic insanity Saul had suffered,
when the heat of the battle cooled a little, his heart's compass made
him run instinctively to Yahweh.
"But the king (Saul) said, "You will surely die, Ahimelech,
you and your father's whole family."
"Then the king ordered the guards at his side: "Turn and kill
the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They
knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me."
(1 Samuel 22:16-17a)
Saul's madness is between the lines: if David was fleeing, who was
"But the king's officials were not willing to raise a hand to
strike the priests of the Lord."
"The king then ordered Doeg, "You turn and strike down the
priests." So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That
day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod.
"He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its
men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and
sheep." (1 Samuel 22:16b-19)
What Saul was unwilling to do to the demonized Amalekites and their
livestock, he did with swiftness to the priests of the Lord, their families,
and even their livestock.
At this point I need to branch off and describe something that is relevant
here. Saul was promised that his kingdom would not endure because he,
"loved praise from men more than praise from God." (see John
We saw how this "love," which was actually lust, gradually
painted him into the corner of trying to exterminate the best and brightest
hope for his kingdom-his son Jonathan. Eli, the high priest, was also
promised that his family priesthood would not endure, and the reasons
were similar to the reason for the curse on Saul's dynasty. Read about
it with me:
"'Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed
for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening
yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?'
"Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that
your house and your father's house would minister before me forever.'
But now the Lord declares: 'Far be it from me! Those who honor me I
will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.
"The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the
strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man
in your family line and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although
good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be
an old man.
"Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared
only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all
your descendants will die in the prime of life.
"And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be
a sign to you-they will both die on the same day.
'I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according
to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house,
and he will minister before my anointed one always.
"Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down
before him for a piece of silver and a crust of bread and plead, "Appoint
me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat."" (1
Eli refused to discipline his sons. God promised that the result of
this would be the end of his family's priesthood. This kind of promise
is more commonly called a curse. A curse from God is a prophecy of the
realities that are present at the moment and how they will manifest
themselves destructively in the future. Let's see if we can discern
the mechanics of how this curse worked itself out
Eli spoiled his sons:
Eli was given the opportunity to raise Samuel, but since he had not
repented, he raised Samuel the way he had raised his sons.
Because of Samuel's heart, he did not turn out like Eli's sons, but
he learned his fathering skills from Eli. Consequently, Samuel's sons
turned out like Eli's sons-corrupt.
Samuel dealt with his sons' corruption very poorly. Apparently he tried
to placate them by installing them as judges, though anyone could have
seen this was a very foolish decision.
As a result, the people asked for a king. Judges were not supposed
to name their sons as their successors. This was supposed to be the
difference between judges and kings:
"When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.
"The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second
was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.
"But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after
dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
"So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel
"They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk
in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations
have."" (1 Samuel 8:1-5)
Far from restraining his adult sons, Samuel tried to make them judges.
Because of this, the people gave in to their sinful desire for a king.
Since they insisted on having a fleshly king in their own timing, they
got a carnal king while the spiritual king was still a boy.
The carnal king acted carnally, seeking man's praise instead of God's.
He then was told that there was another king waiting in the wings:
"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept
the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established
your kingdom over Israel for all time.
"But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out
a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because
you have not kept the Lord's command." (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
Saul was insanely jealous of anyone who might be his rival or befriended
his rival. His rival had to flee for help to the priests, the descendants
The jealous king slaughtered the descendants of Eli, who helped his
rival, thus fulfilling the curse on Eli's house. Thus we see that God's
curses prophesy the result of sin that is not dealt with.
Let's return to our main story line in First Samuel 22:
"But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, escaped and fled
to join David.
"He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. Then
David said to Abiathar: "That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there,
I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death
of your father's whole family.
"Stay with me; don't be afraid; the man who is seeking your life
is seeking mine also. You will be safe with me."
(1 Samuel 22:20-23)
Our old David is back! He was the only person on earth who knew he
was partly responsible for the massacre at Nob, and yet he confessed
it openly. Saul would not admit his wrongdoing even with the world's
foremost prophet rebuking him to his face.
David was aware that he was an accessory to murder, and yet he was
not overwhelmed by guilt. David knew his loving God very well. He felt
so safe that he freely offered asylum to a wanted man, Abiathar.
Yes, David was making a major comeback!
(1 Samuel 23)
"When David was told, "Look, the Philistines are fighting
against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors," he inquired
of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?"
The Lord answered him, "Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah."
(1 Samuel 23:1-2)
This battle was two-thirds won when David asked God if he should fight
it. Do you remember why Saul would not inquire of the Lord? He didn't
want to know what the Lord wanted him to do if it meant he was going
to have to trust God. David, (as a fugitive), had every reason not to
even consider going out and attacking the Philistines. After all, wasn't
fighting those guys the responsibility of the king of Israel and his
army? If David had been even slightly bitter, he would have refused
to consider doing the job of the man who was persecuting him.
Also, he bravely ignored the indelicate situation that would likely
arise when Saul learned where he was.
The David Heart-Faithful and Humble
"But David's men said to him, "Here in Judah we are afraid.
How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!""
(1 Samuel 23:3)
These men were not yet "David hearts." It took David a while
to impart his heart to his men.
"Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered
him, "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines
into your hand." (1 Samuel 23:4)
Some teach that asking God for something twice is not faith. I believe
at times God considers it VERY GREAT faith to ask twice. In Gethsemane,
Jesus asked for something more than once, as did Paul when he prayed
about his thorn. I believe God considered David such a hero for wanting
to go rescue Keilah that David's perseverance was not only inoffensive
to Him, it pleased Him greatly! David was mustering the faith to overcome
his men's fear. Saul, on the other hand, always gave in to the least
amount of pressure from his men. They often seemed to lead him more
than he led them.
"So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and
carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines
and saved the people of Keilah. Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought
the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah." (1 Samuel
God is good. The one who really desired to inquire of the Lord inherited
access to the ephod with its Urim and Thummim. The one who refused to
make use of his right to inquire of the Lord, (Saul), lost it.
But Saul still had official God-given authority as well as anointing.
For this reason David was submissive toward him.
David was also anointed, but he had no official authority yet. He prized
what he did have even more highly than official authority: He had God's
favor and His manifest presence. Saul had to make hard choices about
what he really wanted most. He wanted authority and position before
men, and he received it. He despised intimacy with the Lord, and he
was stripped of it. God often judges us by giving us what we really
The actual event that brought the ephod to David was Saul's slaughter
of almost all those even remotely qualified to hear from God through
it. Saul exterminated the priests because they had given David bread
and a sword, but even more because they talked to God for him. It appears
that if Saul couldn't hear from God, he didn't want anyone to hear from
"Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, "God
has handed him over to me, for David has imprisoned himself by entering
a town with gates and bars." And Saul called up all his forces
for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men."
(1 Samuel 23:7-8)
Saul here prophesied his interpretation of the turn of events before
him. He was saying basically that God had chosen to set David up so
that it would be easy for Saul to trap him and kill him. Nothing could
have been further from the truth! David was seeking and trusting the
Lord with all his heart and God was pleased with his faith. A truer
interpretation of the events that were transpiring would be that the
official shepherd of Israel had become so much like the Philistines
that he would not defend Israel from them. Because he would not do his
job, the unofficial shepherd of Israel was defending Israel from the
The Saul heart could not hear from God even when he had the Urim and
Thummim in his possession. In this situation his conscience should have
been screaming at him. It was obvious that David's rescue of Keilah
was a rebuke to Saul and his administration.
Sin is not static. It takes more and more until it owns all of you.
Saul was a good man when he began his kingship, but he allowed sin to
feed on his flesh. On this sad day he called that which was dead wrong
the will of God, and sin had him by the throat.
"When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said
to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod."
David said, "O Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely
that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of
me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come
down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant."
And the Lord said, "He will."" (1 Samuel 23:9-11)
The way David asked for two things at once makes me think he was a
little on edge. Maybe he was anticipating that the citizens of Keilah
would not stand up for him. Regardless of what his emotions were, he
poured them out to his best friend, Yahweh.
Again David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and
my men to Saul?" And the Lord said, "They will."
So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and
kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped
from Keilah, he did not go there." (1 Samuel 23:12-13)
I'm sure it was not lost on Saul's men that his prophecy had been false,
both in motive and in result. We may well presume they were discreet
enough not to point out this fact.
"David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the
Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not
give David into his hands.
"While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that
Saul had come out to take his life.
"And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him
find strength in God." (1 Samuel 23:14-16)
Jonathan knew his covenant brother might be feeling a little low at
this point, so he encouraged him and helped him find faith. This from
the man whose father and sister were the reason David was in this valley
of trial. It seems that the spirit of prophecy came on Jonathan at this
point and he heard from God in this chapter. Notice that he made three
"Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not
lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second
to you. Even my father Saul knows this."" (1 Samuel 23:17)
His first two prophecies were accurate. Tragically, Jonathan and David
did not see the third prophecy fulfilled.
For some prophecies to be fulfilled, a certain response by the concerned
parties must be forthcoming. The Lord greatly desired Jonathan to go
over to David's side. Had Jonathan been able to overcome the spell of
manipulation-through-condemnation that his father had put on him, he
would have indeed ruled at David's right hand. David would have been
given relief, and many years of bloodshed would have been prevented.
What follows is possibly the saddest verse in this book.
"The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan
went home, but David remained at Horesh."
(1 Samuel 23:18).
David was alone. Jonathan was alone. They never saw each other again.
Jonathan missed a great opportunity to both hear, and obey God.
"The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, "Is not
David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah,
south of Jeshimon?
"Now, O king, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we
will be responsible for handing him over to the king." (1 Samuel
It seems there were whole clans of "Saul hearts" in Israel.
And listen to how religious and fatherly Saul sounds in response to
their self-serving manipulation:
"Saul replied, "The Lord bless you for your concern for me.
Go and make further preparation. Find out where David usually goes
and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty.
"Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to
me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the
area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.""
(1 Samuel 23:21-23)
Second Timothy 3:12-13 says:
"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to
worse, deceiving and being deceived."
Saul was being willingly deceived. The Ziphites knew he was an insecure,
paranoid despot and they were aware of David's faithful character. They
were cooperating with Saul in his self-deception to further their own
status in the kingdom.
"So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and
his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon.
"Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about
it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When
Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.
"Saul was going along one side of the mountain [apparently the
rock was this mountain], and David and his men were on the other side,
hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing
in on David and his men to capture them
" (1 Samuel 23:24-26)
At this point there was nothing between David and Saul but a rock.
That rock, however, was a picture of Jehovah. David, by outward appearances,
seemed to be "only a step from death," as David himself had
said while under the Saul spirit. Surely it seemed that God was saying
through the circumstances and through the consensus of the Ziphites
that David was a doomed criminal. But in reality, he was as safe and
secure as he was innocent.
a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly!
The Philistines are raiding the land."
"Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the
Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth (The
Rock of Escaping).
"And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En
Gedi." (1 Samuel 23:27-29)
It was clear at this point that God had not handed David over to Saul.
Even though God let Saul come tantalizingly close to capturing him,
He delivered David at the last moment, by the hand of the Philistines,
Our chapter ends as it began with two hearts interpreting an incursion
by the Philistines in two polar opposite ways. One heart was thrashing
blindly in fear and anger; the other was given renewed vision through
trust and love.
When God Shouts
(1 Samuel 24)
That Samuel is often inspired in triads of chapters is never more true
than with chapters 24, 25, and 26. This chapter 24 and chapter 26 show
David showing extreme mercy, extreme faith, and extreme wisdom toward
Saul. Saul has the title of King but David is behaving as a beneficent
sovereign toward an errant subject, even though he is officially powerless.
His men surely came to realize that the giant killer was no ordinary
champion - there was something truly royal about this son of Jesse.
Chapter 25 will show us the carnal side of David, and we will see that
clearly in due time.
"After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told,
"David is in the Desert of En Gedi."
"So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set
out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
"He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and
Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in
"The men said, "This is the day the Lord spoke of when he
said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal
with as you wish.'" Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a
corner of Saul's robe." (1 Samuel 24:1-4)
The footnote in the NIV offers an alternate rendering of the phrase,
"This is the day the Lord spoke of when He said to you
"Today the Lord is saying
I will give your enemy into your
hands for you to deal with as you wish."
I strongly believe the latter rendering accurately reflects what the
Lord is saying in this book about how a David heart interprets revelation.
David's men were interpreting the circumstances to mean God was saying
for David to kill Saul while he had the chance. Initially, David must
have agreed with them. Otherwise he would have just remained still and
hidden. I think he crept up on Saul to do him in, but at the last second
he changed the direction of Goliath's sword to the hem of Saul's robe
instead of his neck. I don't think he planned it that way, but the piece
of the robe soon proved priceless. And that piece was possibly his tallit,
which represented a Hebrew man's relationship with God. (see Numbers
"Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a
corner of his robe.
"He said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do such
a thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, or lift my hand against him;
for he is the anointed of the Lord."
"With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them
to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way." (1 Samuel
David was genuinely grieved for what he had almost done. He was so
incensed at them and at himself that he had to immediately address the
breach in their integrity. David's ability to discern the mind of God
under those pressured circumstances is a splendid example of the David
heart at its finest.
When Saul interpreted that David out risking his neck to save Keilah
meant that God was putting him in a walled city so he, (Saul), could
kill him, his heart was corrupted and blinded by pride. A Saul heart
will see any circumstance as indicating God is leading it to do something
that will advance the cause of receiving increased status in the eyes
Saul failed a "no brainer" test at the city of Keilah. David
aced a very hard test in the cave of the wild goats. Only the purest,
noblest, most faithful heart would not agree that God had set Saul up
to reap the murder he had been sowing. This was the acid test, and sparing
the very vulnerable Saul was a greater act of heroism than laying low
Goliath in the Valley of Elah.
A David heart humbly notes unusual circumstances and listens for the
peaceful quickening of the Spirit to cue it when God is speaking and
what He is saying through what is transpiring. This is a very difficult
thing to do under pressure.
God can and does speak through anything He wants to, but many times
what He speaks through is offensive to our religious spirits. I try
to listen - not just to people, but to the voice of God in them. God
speaks through people all the time, often in spite of themselves. David's
men were not bringing David a word from God, and yet his error in listening
to them momentarily WAS THE GRACE OF GOD! Though David was wrong to
cut off a piece of Saul's robe, he knew immediately what the Lord wanted
him to do with it. David could be repenting deeply one minute, and the
next minute be moving on to the business at hand. His concept of God's
sovereignty was so enormous that he had no problem believing God would
readily use the consequences of his sin, the cloth in his hand.
"Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, "My
lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and
prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
"He said to Saul, "Why do you listen when men say, 'David
is bent on harming you?'
"This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered
you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared
you; I said, 'I will not lift my hand against my master, because he
is the Lord's anointed.'
"See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I
cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand
and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have
not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.
"May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge
the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.
"As the old saying goes, 'From evildoers come evil deeds,' so my
hand will not touch you.
"Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing?
A dead dog? A flea?"
(1 Samuel 24:8-14)
When David confronted Goliath, he asked David if he considered him
"May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider
my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your
"When David finished saying this, Saul asked, "Is that your
voice, David my son?" And he wept aloud.
"You are more righteous than I," he said. "You have treated
me well, but I have treated you badly.
"You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the Lord
delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me." (1 Samuel
Because of the dramatic extremity of these circumstances, even Saul
could not fail to see that God had delivered him into David's hands.
He was having a temporary "fit of sanity," and he could not
deny the obvious.
The Judgment Seat will be the place where everything is ultimately
open and laid bare before the eyes of God, men, and angels. God is merciful.
He rebukes us by making the truth more and more obvious as our lives
progress. If He has quit doing this for a person, they have been given
over to a depraved mind. In such a case, judgment has already been pronounced.
Pray that God will always chastise you. He chastises those He loves
(see Hebrews 12:6). The rest are under His wrath.
Saul was still being wooed and confronted by God's faithful love. To
some extent, it is God's judgment if we are hearing Him infrequently.
God speaks to us exactly as much as we will let Him. As Paul Cain said,
"We are all as close to God as we want to be." If you want
to hear God more, listen for Him to tell you to do something that involves
doing something you dislike. Then do it. You will soon find that He
is speaking more loudly.
"When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed?
May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today.
"I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel
will be established in your hands.
"Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants
or wipe out my name from my father's family."
"So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David
and his men went up to the stronghold."
(1 Samuel 24:19-22).
Why was it impossible for David to go home at this point? Was trusting
God not a practical, real-world option? Was it the fact that he had
400 fugitives with him? Was it because David's wife had been given to
another man? What was God saying David should do? Did David ask?
I believe another event had transpired by this point that we are not
yet ready to consider, an event that made it impossible for David to
Saul's Perfect Prototype
(1 Samuel 25)
"Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him;
and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into
the Desert of Maon.
"A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very
wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he
was shearing in Carmel.
"His name was Nabal and his wife's name was Abigail. She was an
intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly
and mean in his dealings.
"While David was in the desert, he heard that Nabal was shearing
"So he sent ten young men and said to them, "Go up to Nabal
at Carmel and greet him in my name."
"Say to him: 'Long life to you! Good health to you and your household!
And good health to all that is yours!'"
(1 Samuel 25:1-6)
The latter part of several of these chapters consistently tells us
information that it seems we needed to know at the beginning. I think
this is to see if we will reserve judgment until we know more. An example
of this is when David sent his men to collect from Nabal. This might
appear to be a strong-arm tactic. We learn later of the details of the
considerable services already rendered to Nabal by David and his men.
"'Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds
were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were
at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing.
"'Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable
toward my young men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your
servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.'"
"When David's men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David's
name. Then they waited." (1 Samuel 25:7-9)
These were ten young men. David was deliberately trying not to be intimidating.
He wanted what was owed him, but as a true shepherd, he didn't want
to be manipulative or forceful. He had operated in good faith toward
Nabal and was presuming he would reciprocate. David was avoiding the
sins of both witchcraft (manipulation) and paranoia.
Just a note from a stockman: Sheep are sheared of their wool in the
spring when they no longer need their winter coats. Adult females, (ewes),
also give birth in the spring. Sheep shearing time is when a shepherd
finds that some of his ewes won't be birthing this year. Those ewes
are either eaten or sold to others for immediate slaughter. So sheep
shearing time is when workers and friends and neighbors drop in for
some fresh barbeque. It is harvest time for a shepherd - a time for
feasting and merry making.
Nabal - Another Saul Heart
"Nabal answered David's servants, "Who is this David? Who
is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters
"Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered
for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?"
(1 Samuel 25:10-11)
Nabal was the perfect picture of a Saul heart. David had protected
Nabal's flocks, and Nabal owed him for his services. True to his character,
he was unwilling to pay up. David had shepherded Saul's two-legged sheep
at Keilah and, far from being rewarded, he was threatened for doing
so. The Philistines in chapter 17 didn't keep Goliath's promise to David
when they didn't surrender after the giant was killed; David had to
chase them down to collect a part of what he had been promised. In this
case Nabal was about to fail to keep the implied bargain he'd made with
David. To add insult to injury, Nabal despised him as a runaway servant.
"David's men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they
reported every word.
"David said to his men, "Put on your swords!" So they
put on their swords, and David put on his. About four hundred men went
up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies." (1
Saul had tried several times to murder David. He had also repeatedly
dealt falsely with him. In spite of this, David would not lay a hand
on Saul. Why did David plan to exterminate a whole household because
Nabal had snubbed him? It was harder for David to be snubbed by a common
man than by a king. Fortunately, God's grace was about to give David
a second chance.
"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.
"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.
"Night and day they were a wall around us all the time we were
herding our sheep near them.
"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."
(1 Samuel 25:14-17)
Just as Saul's men were always busy behind the scenes, quietly trying
to keep Saul from messing up too badly, so Nabal's men were subtly shepherding
Abigail - A David Heart
"Abigail lost no time. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two
skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred
cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them
"Then she told her servants, "Go on ahead; I'll follow you."
But she did not tell her husband Nabal."
(1 Samuel 25:18-19)
Abigail, true to her David heart, was not passive for one second. All
she had to do to be rid of a mean husband and become a rich widow was
sit still and do nothing. This was what Eli and Saul had done at crucial
moments. But her heart was pure, and she did not hesitate to do what
she knew was right.
Jesus said, "It is written in the prophets: 'They will all be
taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him
comes to me." (John 6:45)
Every man and woman hears from God all the time. Everyone is "taught"
by the Father, the Spirit of Truth, but not everyone LEARNS from Him.
Even before the incarnation, Jesus was the "true light that gives
light to every man."
(see John 1:9)
No one is completely without light, except those who choose to be blind.
Only the willfully ignorant don't know what is right. The David heart
"falls on the Rock and is broken," admitting it is too weak
to resist God's great truth, as well as His love. Abigail was a David
heart. Just as David got up and out early on the day he met Goliath,
Abigail hustled out to meet David. And had she hesitated, she would
have been too late to deliver David from having a Saul heart moment.
Abigail was the only one able and willing to confront an angry, hurt
David. She was really trying to rescue David and Nabal, who were both
acting like Sauls. Her actions would speak to their consciences and
cause them to pause and consider what God was saying. She was showing
both men that their ways were reckless before the Lord.
"As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were
David and his men descending toward her, and she met them." (1
Abigail and David were both running down-hill, building momentum for
a clash at the bottom of the ravine. There David would have to decide
who he was.
Abigail is the fourth David heart in our story after David, Hannah,
and Jonathan. In fact, she very nearly was David for a moment, descending
into the Valley of Elah, volunteering to do what no one else could do.
She chose to face a man with the spirit of Saul - no, GOLIATH, for he
carried the same blade as the giant, and David swore an oath similar
to the one spoken by the behemoth against Israel! She even came to him
in the Name of the Lord as David had come to Goliath! "David had
just said, "It's been useless-all my watching over this fellow's
property in the desert so that nothing of his was missing.
He has paid me back evil for good.
"May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning
I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!"
(1 Samuel 25:21-22)
[More on this oath later.]
"When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed
down before David with her face to the ground."
(1 Samuel 25:23)
She was on her face before a "Saulish" David even as David
had been on his face before Saul with the corner of a robe in his hand.
"She fell at his feet and said: "My lord, let the blame be
on me alone. Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant
has to say." (1 Samuel 25:24)
She was imploring David not to be like Nabal who was described by one
of his servants as "such a wicked man that no one can talk to him."
(see 1 Samuel 25:17)
"May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is
just like his name-his name is Fool, and folly goes with him. But as
for me, your servant, I did not see the men my master sent." (1
I believe this is one of the three most important verses in First Samuel.
Davids have to choose to retain a Davidic heart. It is also by choice
that Saul hearts abide in the darkness of their fear and wounded pride.
I believe this is a summary of a chief theme in this tale of two hearts.
Every man falls, but no man can say he can't get up. The pure in heart
can be "infected" by encounters with the folly that "goes
with" a Saul heart. But by God's grace, they can, and will, repent.
"Now since the Lord has kept you, my master, from bloodshed and
from avenging yourself with your own hands, as surely as the Lord lives
and as you live, may your enemies and all who intend to harm my master
be like Nabal."
(1 Samuel 25:26)
There was a general awareness in Israel of who and what Saul was and
who and what David was. Somehow Abigail knew David had spared Saul in
the cave. She also knew he might have a harder time being so merciful
to Nabal. Indeed, she was a VERY intelligent woman.
"And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my master,
be given to the men who follow you."
(1 Samuel 25:27)
She was trying to appease his pride by offering the desperately needed
supplies to his men, instead of to him, thus stroking his bruised dignity.
"Please forgive your servant's offense, for the Lord will certainly
make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord's battles.
Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live." (1 Samuel
"The Lord's battle" is avoiding wrongdoing and walking in
relationship with Him. And this prophetic lady intercessor knew well
that a lasting dynasty was at stake. Because of Saul's error at Gilgal,
Samuel had told him his family's dynasty could not last.
"Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life
of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the
Lord your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from
the pocket of a sling."
(1 Samuel 25:29)
She was alluding to the fact that the shepherd boy knew he was invulnerable
when he went up against Goliath with a sling.
"When the Lord has done for my master every good thing he promised
concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel,
"my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden
of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord
has brought my master success, remember your servant." (1 Samuel
There is a prophetic overtone here of the era of Christ. The One who
now sits on the throne of David inaugurated a covenant in which taking
vengeance was wrong. Through David's rash oath God was saying: "May
God do to all my enemies the thing I am about to do to every male in
Nabal's house, if I leave one of them alive by the time the sun rises."
When David said this, he did not know he was going to show mercy to
Nabal and his house. So what he unwittingly swore was that if he spared
Nabal, then he hoped that all his enemies would receive the same treatment-mercy!
This was fulfilled by the Lion of Judah who has offered grace to all
"David said to Abigail, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of
Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.
"May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from
bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.
"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."
"Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and
said, "Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your
"When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet
like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told
him nothing until daybreak."
(1 Samuel 25:32-36)
Abigail was just as ready to be silent and still as she was to speak
"Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him
all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.
"About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
"When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise be
to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with
contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal's
wrongdoing down on his own head."
"Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife."
"His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, "David has
sent us to you to take you to become his wife."
"She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, "Here
is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master's
servants." (1 Samuel 25:37-41)
David had to wait only ten days to see God deal with Nabal. And Abigail,
who tried to save her "surly and mean" husband, was delivered
from having to endure him without using witchcraft.
"Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five maids,
went with David's messengers and became his wife."
"David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were
"But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's wife, to Paltiel
son of Laish, who was from Gallim."
(1 Samuel 25:42-44)
It is common in Scripture that the most profound truths are hidden
in lists and genealogies. David's first three wives are named here.
Abigail was a great blessing; Michal, a profound curse, and Ahinoam
Ahinoam will turn out to be the greatest mystery of the whole story.
(1 Samuel 26)
In this chapter David again spared Saul. Only this time David's faith
was stronger. He didn't wait for an obviously handcrafted divine moment
in the back of a cave. He rose up and went to Saul.
"The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, "Is not David
hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?"
(1 Samuel 26:1)
Though Saul repented outside the cave in which David had spared his
life, he didn't "stay repented," which is a classic Saul heart
trait. This provided David another even more dramatic opportunity to
spare Saul and confront him with who he was.
"So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand
chosen men of Israel, to search there for David.
"Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing
Jeshimon, but David stayed in the desert. When he saw that Saul had
followed him there,
"he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.
"Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped.
He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had
lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around
"David then asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah,
Joab's brother, "Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?"
"I'll go with you," said Abishai."
(1 Samuel 26:2-6)
David had become David again. Walking into the center of a camp of
3,000 hostile soldiers was suicidal madness
unless God was on
"So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was
Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground
near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him." (1
Saul always had his spear close by. In this scene it was "near
his head," suggesting, I believe, that he had it on his mind.
"Abishai said to David, "Today God has delivered your enemy
into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of
my spear; I won't strike him twice.""
(1 Samuel 26:8)
Abishai was amazed at their opportunity. Like David's men in the back
of the cave, he was sure God was saying to attack. He knew God was protecting
them. After all, they had managed to sneak unnoticed into a camp of
3,000 men, so to him it was obvious that God was saying they should
"But David said to Abishai, "Don't destroy him! Who can lay
a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?
"As surely as the Lord lives," he said, "the Lord himself
will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will
go into battle and perish." (1 Samuel 26:9-10)
David had just seen what the Lord had done to Nabal, so his faith was
strong that God would deal with Saul in His own good time. In fact,
without the near disaster of the Nabal episode, David might not have
been wise enough to pass the test he faced in this chapter. Even the
sin of cutting off the hem of Saul's robe turned out to be something
God used to grow David. When David repented, he did it thoroughly, and
then he never looked back. He even expected that God might well use
his mistakes for His Glory. This is the David heart.
Also David discerned that the supernatural favor from God they were
experiencing as they stood by Saul's bedroll was like they were walking
on water. The only thing holding them up was their faith and God's faithfulness.
To commit wrongdoing at this point could cause them to immediately sink.
As I said, one of the primary themes of First Samuel is hearing from
God. The hardest part of hearing God is the interpretation of such things
as prophetic events. What obviously meant one thing to Abishai meant
another thing entirely to the heart of David.
"But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed.
Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let's go."
"So David took the spear and water jug near Saul's head, and they
left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were
all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.
"Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of
the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them."
(1 Samuel 26:11-13)
Indeed there was a "wide space" between Saul and David, both
physically and spiritually. Across this great divide David called to
Saul. His carefully constructed appeal to Saul's conscience was designed
to make the king's malignant madness obvious to all.
"He [David] called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, "Aren't
you going to answer me, Abner?"
"Abner replied, "Who are you who calls to the king?"
"David said, "You're a man, aren't you? And who is like you
in Israel? Why didn't you guard your lord the king? Someone came to
destroy your lord the king. What you have done is not good. As surely
as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard
your master, the Lord's anointed. Look around you. Where are the king's
spear and water jug that were near his head?"
"Saul recognized David's voice and said, "Is that your voice,
David my son?" David replied, "Yes it is, my lord the king."
"And he added, "Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What
have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of?
"Now let my lord the king listen to his servant's words. If the
Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If,
however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They
have driven me today from my share in the Lord's inheritance and have
said, 'Go, serve other gods.'
"Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence
of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea-as one
hunts a partridge in the mountains."
(1 Samuel 26:14-20)
David's innocence and harmlessness were shining bright and strong,
shaming Saul in front of 3,000 of his finest troops. Implicit in David's
words was the fact that any fool could see God was speaking through
what had just transpired. Even Saul, who really didn't want to hear
God's voice, was forced to hear Him in this event.
"Then Saul said, "I have sinned. Come back, David my son.
Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm
you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly."
"Here is the king's spear," David answered. "Let one
of your young men come over and get it.
"The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.
The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand
on the Lord's anointed.
"As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my
life and deliver me from all trouble."
"Then Saul said to David, "May you be blessed, my son David;
you will do great things and surely triumph." So David went on
his way, and Saul returned home." (1 Samuel 26:21-25)
Returning Saul's spear represented David disowning of the spirit of
murder and manipulation that was on Saul.
But David kept Saul's water jug that was "near his head."
What is the significance of this subtle fact, so quietly recorded here
by the Spirit of God?
From the viewpoint of a man, a woman is compared in Scripture to a
cistern, which is a water source (see Proverbs 5:15). When a man and
a woman lie together, they become one. Whatever you drink permeates
every cell in your body.
(First Corinthians 6:16)
Well, so, what's your point, you may ask? David returned Saul's spear,
but not his water jug. [Brace yourself for the most unsettling suggestion
I will make in this book.] Perhaps David had Saul's wife, and returning
her to Saul just wasn't feasible.
I believe Ahinoam, daughter of Ahimaaz, the wife of Saul, became Ahinoam
of Jezreel, the wife of David. And I think that she had the same effect
on David that Michal had: When he slept with her, David became like
Saul for a season. (Substantiation of this wild idea will follow later)
The following verses are an example of David suddenly, and "randomly"
returning to being a "Saul Heart."
From 1 Samuel 27:
"But David thought to himself, "One of these days I will
be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape
to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for
me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand." So David
and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of
Maoch king of Gath."
(1 Samuel 27:1-2)
This hardly sounds like the mighty man of faith who strolled into the
middle of Saul's camp! It is inconceivable to me that David would ever
return to Gath. When he went there before, "he was ill," as
Michal said. He had to act like a slobbering, demonized fool just to
keep Achish from killing him! Not exactly his finest hour! Now he was
returning to the place of his deepest humiliation? How could he stoop
to the position of being King Achish's lackey and pretend to be a loyal
Philistine captain just to put a little more distance between himself
and Saul? I think I know why the same man that could walk up to Saul's
bed roll in the midst of 3,000 hostile soldiers could not abide in the
Desert of Ziph. But brace yourself. This may sting a little.
"David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his
family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and
Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal." (1 Samuel 27:3)
As I said before, I believe Ahinoam, daughter of Ahimaaz, the wife
of Saul, became Ahinoam of Jezreel, wife of David. And I think that
she may have had the same effect on David that Michal, the daughter
of Saul had. Here are eight reasons I believe this is true:
1.) Saul forcefully took away David's wife, Michal, when David had
to flee. I believe David responded by taking Saul's wife. In Scripture,
Ahinoam appears suddenly and without explanation at David's side as
he begins his flight. No details were offered. This seems a little odd,
given the context.
2.) As I said before, a woman is compared in Scripture to a cistern
(see Proverbs 5:15). When a man and a woman lie together, they become
one. Whatever you drink permeates every cell in your body. David returned
Saul's spear, but not his "water jug." Perhaps David had Saul's
wife and returning her to Saul just wasn't feasible because the murderous
king, embarrassed as he would have been, would likely have killed her.
In any case, David never returned to Saul after Ahinoam is listed as
3.) When a king really wanted to supplant another king irreversibly,
he slept with the former king's wives. David was exhibiting Saul-like
behavior when he fled. He may have taken Ahinoam to supplant Saul in
4.) Saul called Jonathan: "the son of a perverse and rebellious
woman." There may have been a long running conflict between Saul
5.) When God rebuked David through Nathan for the Bathsheba affair,
He said to David: "I gave . . . your master's wives into your arms."
(see 2 Samuel 12:8)
6.) Nabal, the perfect reflection of Saul, had a wife who was as noble
as he was base. Saul may have considered Ahinoam "perverse and
rebellious" because she was Davidic. God judged Nabal and David
took his wife. It's possible that this was a shadow of what had already
happened to Saul and Ahinoam.
7.) After the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, Saul's son Ish-Bosheth became
king. When Ish-Bosheth suspected Abner, leader of his army, of plotting
to take the throne, he asked him, "Why did you sleep with Rizpah,
my father's concubine?" (see 2 Samuel 3:7) Abner probably was indeed
plotting to take the kingdom, but if so, why did he sleep with a lowly
concubine, and not Saul's actual wife? Perhaps Ahinoam, Saul's wife,
was not available for Abner to sleep with, because she had been in the
house of David for years.
8.) There are only two people in the Bible named Ahinoam, the wife
of Saul and the wife of David.
Or maybe there is really only one.
Under the New Covenant we have a whole different dynamic in play, thank
"For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife,
and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.
Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
(1 Corinthians 7:14)
If an Old Testament saint touched a leper he became unclean. If a New
Testament believer lays hands on a leper, the leper, hopefully becomes
clean. We have all been born and bred under the New Covenant. Like a
fish in water, we hardly notice what surrounds and sustains us. We have
no perspective of what it was like before the blood of Jesus was carried
to the Mercy Seat in heaven. Even when only one parent is a believer,
the children are born holy, blessed, and set apart for Christ. This
does not mean they don't have to receive the new birth. It just means
they are not considered unclean. As awesome as Moses, Elijah, David,
and John the Baptist were, they were only born of women and were never
I believe David was greatly weakened by Michal's unbelief. I also believe
Ahinoam somehow caused David to be similarly plagued. Today, because
of the blood of Jesus, married Christians are protected from "catching"
such spirits from their spouses. The power that protects married Christians
also makes it possible to be in the world without letting the world
What are the implications of this teaching? Does this mean a New Covenant
Christian can be equipped for spiritual warfare in such a fashion so
as to make him or her even mightier than David?
"On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem
[New Covenant believers], so that the feeblest among them will be like
David, and the House of David will be like God, like the Angel [Messenger]
of the Lord going before them." (Zechariah 12:8)
Because of our shields, we are enabled to go beyond what was possible
for David. There were places where he wavered that we can, by the grace
of God, walk through faithfully. We can be like Christ, the "Messenger
of the Lord." We can save the souls of our Sauls instead of being
pulled down by them.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On
the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."
(2 Corinthians 10:4)
A spear of false guilt and witchcraft like the one Saul threw at Jonathan
(First Samuel 22: 6-8), can be easily deflected by the shield of faith
and the breastplate of righteousness. If Jonathan had had the sword
of the Spirit he would have known that it's not about our righteousness
but Christ's righteousness. And by dying to guilt and facing up to his
father's wrath, Jonathan could have become strong enough to, ironically,
save his father who was trying to weaken him.
David was tending sheep when he was called by God; Saul was herding
donkeys. The sheep is a type of David, the donkey a type of Saul. The
firstborn male of every animal was supposed to be sacrificed to the
Lord. However, since the donkey was an unclean animal, it could not
go on the altar. The owner of a firstborn male donkey foal was offered
two options: He could let the donkey live if he could find a spotless
lamb to sacrifice in its place. Otherwise, he would have to break the
donkey's neck and bury it. (see Exodus 13:12-13, 34:19-20)
"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only
to take it up again." (John 10:17)
"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
(see John 20:21)
"As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
(see John 13:34)
Reaching the lost, whether they be our closest friends or our worst
enemies, will require giving up our lives. The alternative is for our
Sauls to have their necks broken. Eli, Dagon, Goliath, Saul, and Ish-Bosheth
all had their necks broken. The Lord is not saying that saving our brother's
neck will be easy. He's just saying it will be worth it.
The time for the redemption of all things is very near; donkey foals
included. The Lamb of God has come, meek and lowly and riding on a colt,
the foal of a donkey. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
May He find redeemed donkeys to ride any time He needs one and so receive
the full reward of His suffering.
Other Writings by the Author
These other titles by Miles Albright can be read for
o The 2733 Revelation & Gideon's Army
The prophetic number of firstfruits;
this writing and video series explains the author's "Gideon experience"
and Numbers 3:46 understanding.
o The Hardening of Blessing
This writing explains how the Lord's blessings will both harden and
soften hearts in the same way the sun both melts the wax and hardens
o The Patriarch Chronicles & 430 Timeline
This writing and video series covers the topic of generational blessings,
as well as curses that need to be overcome through forgiveness and God's