1 Samuel
1-7 Jonathan Pleads for David 8-10 Saul Tries to Kill David 11-17 Michal Helps David to Escape 18 David Flees to Samuel 19-24 Under the Protection of Samuel
Jonathan Pleads for David

1Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David. 2So Jonathan told David saying, “Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you; if I find out anything, then I will tell you.” 4Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds [have been] very beneficial to you. 5For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw [it] and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?” 6Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these words. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as formerly.

We see in Saul and Jonathan a great contrast between two people in their attitude opposite David. This speaks of the relationship that every human being has with Christ. It is for or against Him. The relationship to Christ is all-determining for the present and the future. The separation that that triggers runs through families (Lk 12:51-5351Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;52for from now on five [members] in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”).

Saul speaks openly for the first time about killing David (verse 11Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David.). It is no longer during an attack of anger, but deliberate. He does it in the presence of Jonathan and all his servants. In this company David has only one friend, Jonathan. The servants seem to symbolize the silent majority. They are neither for David nor against him. They do not have their own opinion but go along with the party that offers them the most benefits. There is a certain esteem with them for David, of which Saul is also aware (1Sam 18:5,225So David went out wherever Saul sent him, [and] prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.22Then Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David secretly, saying, ‘Behold, the king delights in you, and all his servants love you; now therefore, become the king’s son-in-law.’”), but they do not speak openly for him, like Jonathan.

Jonathan is “greatly delighted in David”. Saul seems to have forgotten that. He will think that Jonathan is as afraid of his position as he is and will therefore benefit from killing David. But Jonathan informs David of the intentions of his father and urges him to exercise caution. He also informs him that he will let him know what his father really intends to do. He does not urge David to flee, but seeks an opportunity to return to his father’s court. Despite all the difficulties that is still David’s place.

In what Jonathan says in verses 4-54Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds [have been] very beneficial to you.5For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw [it] and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?” of David, we can almost hear the Christian speak of a fellow believer and of Christ. It is good to be a friend who speaks well of a friend. Above all, it is good to speak well of the Lord Jesus before the ears of the world.

The first thing Jonathan says is that Saul, as king, should not be tempted to sin against David. He may only kill David if sin is found in him. But, Jonathan testifies, David hath not sinned against the king. On the contrary, he has done what is good for him. Jonathan reminds his father of David’s victory over Goliath, putting his life at risk (cf. Jdg 12:33When I saw that you would not deliver [me], I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the LORD gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”). That victory the LORD has given, and has benefited all Israel. Saul saw it himself and rejoiced.

Jonathan’s testimony to Saul shows how much David is a servant of the LORD and not just of Saul. David is hated without cause, as was and is the case with the Lord Jesus. The natural man can sometimes admire the Lord Jesus for His deeds. But if he doesn’t choose Him, he actually hates Him and also all who are in connection with Him.

Jonathan concludes his plea with an appeal to Saul’s common sense. There is no reason to kill David, he is innocent. Therefore Saul must refrain from killing David, otherwise he will shed innocent blood.

The heart of Saul is getting soft and he reassigns David, just like before. It characterizes David that he returns to the court of Saul. This can only be done by someone who lives with and for the LORD and not for the eyes of men. There is no resentment or revenge on his part. Despite all the injustice done to him and the permanent threat of death, David returns to perform his humble service with an intractable king.

Every time we find such moments of the becoming soft of the heart of Saul (1Sam 24:77David persuaded his men with [these] words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on [his] way.; 26:2121Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and have committed a serious error.”). Each time it turns out to be only a transient condition and not the conviction of his heart. His jealousy for David remains and with it his hatred and his attempts to kill him. David remains for him the competitor of his throne, from which he does not want to renounce.

David escapes the sword of Saul four times in this chapter alone. First through the intervention of Jonathan. Next time by his own speed to dodge the spear Saul throws at him (verse 1010Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.). The third time by the help of Michal (verse 1212So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped.) and the fourth time by the protection of Samuel (verse 2323He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah.).


Saul Tries to Kill David

8When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. 9Now there was an evil spirit from the LORD on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing [the harp] with [his] hand. 10Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.

When there is war with the Philistines, David attained a great victory, that the Philistines may flee from him. Instead of rejoicing over it, the evil spirit of the LORD comes over Saul. Then David leaves his place of celebrated general and takes again the place of the humble minstrel to calm down a king tormented by an evil spirit. He knows that in that place he should not be on his guard of the Philistine spear, but of Saul’s spear (1Sam 18:10-1110Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing [the harp] with his hand, as usual; and a spear [was] in Saul’s hand.11Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.).

Because, following David’s victory, it says that an evil spirit is taking over Saul, we can assume that David victory is making Saul jealous. Jealousy offers demons an opening to gain control over a human being. Saul again tries to kill David with his spear. Because David is always on his guard, he dodges the spear with a presence of mind given to him by the LORD. Then he flees and escapes.


Michal Helps David to Escape

11Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death.” 12So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped. 13Michal took the household idol and laid [it] on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ [hair] at its head, and covered [it] with clothes. 14When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15Then Saul sent messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me on his bed, that I may put him to death.” 16When the messengers entered, behold, the household idol [was] on the bed with the quilt of goats’ [hair] at its head. 17So Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal said to Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I put you to death?’”

While Saul’s servants surround the house, David writes Psalm 59 (Psa 59:1a1For the choir director; [set to] Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent [men] and they watched the house in order to kill him.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Set me [securely] on high away from those who rise up against me.
). In it he prays for deliverance (Psa 59:1b-21For the choir director; [set to] Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent [men] and they watched the house in order to kill him.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Set me [securely] on high away from those who rise up against me.
2Deliver me from those who do iniquity
And save me from men of bloodshed.
). He is therein a type of the remnant. In such circumstances we may trust in God and say that in the morning we will praise Him. At the same time David uses the opportunity offered to escape. He flees in a way similar to that of Saul, later Paul (Acts 9:24-2524but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death;25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through [an opening in] the wall, lowering him in a large basket.).

The use of the idol means that there is an idol in the house of David. Perhaps the application is allowed to show how Michal looks at David: she adores him. It leads her to help her husband stay out of her father’s hands. There are women who adore their husbands so much that they support him through thick and thin, even in evil. We do not know whether Saphira, for example, worshipped her husband Ananias, but she did support him in evil and also shares his judgment (Acts 5:1-2,5,9-101But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2and kept back [some] of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.9Then Peter [said] to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [as well].”10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.).

The illness that David is said to have is no obstacle to Saul to let him bring to him. He is now so keen on the death of David that he wants to kill him by himself to have the certainty of his death.

Michal has a certain love for David, but it is a selfish love. She is not a Saul, but neither is she a woman who follows her husband. Her help to the refugee resembles in the distance the help Rachab gave to the spies (Jos 2:4-64But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.5It came about when [it was time] to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”6But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof.).

The deceit is discovered. Saul blames Michal very much and calls David “my enemy”. Then Michal’s self-love appears. She introduces David to her father as someone who has threatened to kill her if she would not help him escape. Michal is not Saul, but certainly also not Jonathan who spoke well from David to his father Saul (verse 44Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds [have been] very beneficial to you.).


David Flees to Samuel

18Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.

David does not flee to his family in Bethlehem, but to the old prophet Samuel. In picture he resorts to the Word of God. He chooses that as his hiding place. By this Word he has been told that he will become king. He doesn’t see much of that yet. He therefore needs to be reminded of this. He also needs the Word to guide him in the journey that is about to begin.

Here we hear about Samuel again for a long time. We last heard of him in 1 Samuel 16, when he anointed David king. Then David came to the fore and Samuel withdrew to Ramah. That does not mean that he has become useless, because we see that he is leading a prophet school here. He will also have certainly kept his word, that he said to the people that he would not cease to pray for them (1Sam 12:2323Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.).


Under the Protection of Samuel

19It was told Saul, saying, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing [and] presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. 21When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” And [someone] said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

Samuel and David withdraw to “Naioth”, which means “houses”, which probably refers to the houses of prophets, where prophet schools are located. Under Samuel’s guidance, the prophets are busy becoming familiar with God’s thoughts. There comes David. He, and Samuel, may have thought that Saul would not venture to get there. But Saul doesn’t shy away from it. He sends his messengers out to pick up David from there. Then we see what happens to the messengers when they come into that sacred environment.

The prophets, led by Samuel, are under the power of the Spirit. That power is also exercised over those who come into that sphere. This also happens with the next messengers and also with a third group of messengers. Instead of laying hold on David they are laying hold on themselves. They experience that God is truly among them (cf. 1Cor 14:24-2524But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;25the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.). It is not about conversion, but about an influence from which one cannot escape. We see something similar in Balaam who wants to flow God’s people, but is forced to bless it (Num 22:2-62Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.3So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel.4Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.5So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, [in] the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.6Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”; 23:11-12,25-2611Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!”12He replied, “Must I not be careful to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”25Then Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all nor bless them at all!”26But Balaam replied to Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘Whatever the LORD speaks, that I must do’?”; 24:10-1310Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have persisted in blessing them these three times!11Therefore, flee to your place now. I said I would honor you greatly, but behold, the LORD has held you back from honor.”12Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you had sent to me, saying,13‘Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the LORD speaks, that I will speak’?).

Then Saul himself goes. It does not realize at all that David is under the special protection of heaven. His journey to Naioth is described in detail. When he comes to Ramah, he asks not only for David, but for Samuel and David. He connects the two names as the conspirators against the throne on which he sits. When he is on his way, the Spirit of God already comes upon him. The Spirit remains on him and as he goes he prophesies, until he comes to Samuel. It seems that this is God’s last attempt to make Saul aware he must repent.

The Spirit of God works wherever the Word of God is preached. Everyone who hears it comes under its seizure. It leads to an action that one would not first think possible: sing, be moved. Yet the heart remains dark and cold.

Saul stripped off his upper garment of royal dignity and only has his underclothes on. He is completely under the seizure of the Spirit, but not with his mind. Thus, men can have great gifts and prophesy in the Name of Christ and cast out demons, but without knowing grace (Mt 7:22-2322Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’).

Mockingly, later is told of him that he is also among the prophets, as something considered impossible and not recognized as true, but as an untrue matter. Even an unbelieving man like Balaam came under the seizure of the Spirit, but without repentance. Thus a person can come under the seizure of God’s Spirit, but without affecting his relationship with God.


Read more