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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 18

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

First Samuel - Chapter 18

Saul’s Jealousy Exhibited, vs. 1-9

Jonathan was a silent, but interested observer of the interview with David. Once again he comes through as a far more understanding and submissive man to God’s will than his father, King Saul. In that his soul was knit with the soul of David is indicated that he realized that his life was bound up in the life of David. Jonathan had evidently taken the word of the Lord from Samuel as final and resolved himself to comply with the will of God. He seems to have recognized at once that here is the man the Lord is readying for king of Israel.

Saul’s mind must have been stirred with the same thoughts, but with cautious apprehension instead. He no longer permitted David to leave him, but kept him nearby where he could be watched. Jonathan, however, stripped himself of princely attire and put it upon David. Off came the royal robe and garments; the princely weapons were girded on David, and he was dressed as the prince rather than the king’s son. Jonathan was ready to acclaim David as the new king and made the first covenant between them at that time.

At this time Jonathan was a mature man, perhaps even old enough to have been David’s father. He was not certainly the youth which is often portrayed as David’s friend and companion. Jonathan doubtless used his years of experience in the army and the king’s council to train David in many of the things he must know when he becomes king.

Saul put David into the armed service; where he conducted himself discreetly. He was loved and admired by the men over whom he was placed. Saul’s servants also respected him highly all of which seems to have been displeasing to the king.

An incident which roused the king’s strong animosity toward David occurred as they were returning from the battle in the valley of Elah. In all the towns and villages the women of Israel came out singing joyfully of Israel’s victory over the Philistines. Someone had composed a hit song which all of them were singing. The refrain was, "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands." This indicated the immense popularity of David after his brave feat of killing Goliath.

Certainly Saul, in his long military career, had slain many times more than young David. It aroused the king’s anger, and he was filled with wrath. The singers had credited David with ten times as many as they had Saul. With all this popularity what was left for him but to assume the kingship, as Samuel had foretold. Therefore Saul watched David thereafter with the strongest of suspicion.

Verses 10-19

Attempts Against David, vs. 10-19

The great rage of Saul and his jealousy over David precipitated a recurrence of his demonic seizures. The very next day he was seized by the evil spirit and began preaching in his house. (Here again is strong evidence that Saul’s prophesying was false and that he did not truly accept the Lord in his heart.) David was called to soothe his troubled feelings with the soft music of his harp. This time Saul had such strong aversion toward David that he could not be calmed. He had a javelin, a short spear, in his hand, according to the King James Bible. However, the language scholars say the original Hebrew word indicates a heavier weapon, a spear.

This is what he flung at David as he played, with stated intent of fastening him to the wall with it. Twice he sought thus to murder David, and twice the Lord made him to escape. Saul knew that his prowess with the spear was not that poor and realized that the Lord had indeed departed from him, as Samuel told him, and was now with David and protecting him. This made him afraid of David.

But Saul was intent on ridding himself of David and gave him a field command in the army, over a thousand men. Thus he was in the eye of the people even more, and conducted himself in such a way as to further enhance himself with them. He seemed unable to do anything to lose favor, and as Saul saw him further ingratiating himself with the people his fear of David became greater.

All Israel and Judah came to love the young man, and doubtless Saul realized that they would quickly follow his leadership, if David sought to rally them in rebellion against him.

Saul’s next stratagem against David involved his eldest daughter, Merab. Perhaps Saul had been the object of criticism by not keeping his promises to the man who would kill Goliath by giving him his daughter. He now promised to give Merab to David to wife if David would prove his valor against the Philistines, hoping that David would be killed by the Philistines.

However, David had not desire to be the king’s son-in-law, and emphasized the insignificance of himself, his deeds, and his family. Thus when time arrived for Merab’s marriage she married, instead of David, a man named Adriel.

Verses 20-30

Marriage to Michal, vs. 20-30

Saul continued to seek ways to circumvent David and to remove him from the scene. At this time he learned that his youngest daughter, Michal, had fallen in love with David, and Saul, when he had contemplated it, thinks he sees a way to entrap David through her. He intends to work the arrangements out in such a way that David must surely be slain by the Philistines. So he sets his servants to persuade David to marry Michal, but David is not to know that Saul is behind it.

When approached on the subject of marrying the princess David again pleads his poverty whereby he would be unable to pay the dowry for Michal. In addition he knew that he was very lightly esteemed by the king. When David’s feelings were conveyed to Saul the king had them return the word to David that he did not require a dowry for Michal’s hand. David could win that honor by attacking the Philistines and taking the foreskins of a hundred of them for Saul. Such an endeavor would be almost impossible to produce, for the Philistines would doubtless put forth great effort against David, and likely he would be killed.

It would appear here that David also wished to marry Michal The demand of Saul came within the time set for Michal’s marriage, but there remained yet sufficient time for David to meet it. He promptly took his men out and attacked the Philistines, killing and taking the foreskins, not of a hundred as Saul demanded, but of a whole two hundred. David brought the whole bloody tally to the king and had them counted out to him. Saul then had no recourse than to allow David to marry Michal.

When Saul saw the deep love his daughter had for his enemy he was still further alarmed and was the constant enemy of David. When the Philistine war was renewed, possibly as a result of Saul’s ridiculous demand of David, David went out with the armies. His wise conduct and prudent behavior among the men continually added to David’s stature with the armed forces. Saul could see that the Lord had protected David, and there seemed to be no way he could prevent it.

Some lessons: 1) True servants of the Lord should rejoice in the advancement of others in His service; 2) God will protect those who are in His will, so that they may accomplish His tasks for them; 3) there is no way man may frustrate the will of God.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-samuel-18.html. 1985.
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