David has just finished defeating Goliath and was summoned to Saul who didn’t recognise him. In this chapter, we find the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Saul’s son, Johnathon and David the future king of Israel. This friendship was going to be tested on several occasions but would last for many years to come.
Johnathon and David were great companions and they got on well together. The reason for this was because they were both extremely brave when no one else was. Johnathon and his armour-bearer went out on their own to personally attack the Philistines, 1 Samuel 14:1-14, and David fought lions, bears and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:28-54.
Because of their common bravery, Johnathon and David became one in spirit and Johnathon loved David as himself, John 13:34 / John 15:13.
While Saul kept David with him, Johnathon and David made a covenant with each other, the giving of the robe, tunic, sword, bow and belt were the seals of the covenant.
It’s clear that David has now become Saul’s ambassador, representing Saul whenever he went into battle. We now begin to see how popular David was going to become among Saul’s army and the people in general. David conducted himself wisely in his new high ranking role and didn’t allow the position to go to his head.
As the people were dancing and singing, they sang, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Someone like Saul, who was filled with pride couldn’t handle what the people were singing. David wasn’t intentionally becoming very popular, whereas Saul wanted to be very popular.
As a result, Saul became angry and very jealous of David’s popularity but he did know that his reign was coming to an end because God rejected him earlier as king, 1 Samuel 15:10-35. We can see the insecurity of Saul, he was emotionally weak, he couldn’t handle being rejected by God and he couldn’t handle being rejected by the people.
There’s a strong possibility that Saul knew that David was going to be the next king of Israel, and so, from this day forward, Saul was going to do everything he could to prevent David from becoming king. He kept a close eye on David, which basically means his jealousy and hatred of David would never come to an end.
It appears the more Saul grew in jealousy and hatred towards David, the more insane he became. The evil spirit which came from God means that God allowed Saul’s jealousy and hatred to get out of control.
It wasn’t ‘from the Lord’ in the sense that God deliberately afflicted Saul with insanity, but only in the sense that, when God so emphatically withdrew His endorsement and support of him, Saul became more and more depressed. The medical word which describes his condition exactly is ‘melancholia’, which is defined as an ‘emotional mental disease marked by depression and ill-grounded fears’.
Notice that Saul was prophesying in his house, the word used here for ‘prophesying’ is the Hebrew word, ‘naba’, this doesn’t mean he prophesied the Word of God, the word suggests he was out of control, speaking gibberish at the same time.
After two attempts to kill David with a spear, Saul became to fear David because he knew God was with David and not with him. Saul then makes David commander of a thousand men, not because he thought David was so wonderful but because he thought David would be killed in any battle which came up.
An army of one thousand would certainly go up against an army of a few thousand and so Saul thought the bigger the battle, the more chance that David would be killed or fail.
Although Saul wanted David killed on the battlefront, God took full advantage of each military campaign and made David successful. God once again, proved that He was with David and once again, Saul became afraid of David because he knew God was with David and the people began to fall in love with David because of his success.
Once again, we see that Saul continues plotting to get rid of David, he decides if he can’t kill him, then the Philistines will do the job for him. Saul offers David, his oldest daughter Merab to David in marriage if he continues to fight against the Philistines, even though he had already promised his daughter in marriage to the person who would defeat Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:25.
Here is a desperate father, who is willing to use his own daughter just to get his own way, how low can one become.
Because of his humble background, David didn’t feel that he should marry into the royalty of Saul’s family. It is possible that he didn’t love Merab, and he didn’t want to marry her just for political reasons.
The dowry was a gift to the father for one’s bride, Exodus 22:16-17. In an effort to have David killed by the Philistines, Saul asked for 100 foreskins of the Philistines, but this didn’t work, it appears that David knew what Saul was up to because David brought back 200 foreskins. In other words, he didn’t want to become Saul’s son-in-law.
God, through all these battles, was preparing and equipping David for the many years of struggles against Saul, which would also help him in his role as king of Israel.
For some reason, Saul failed to honour his promise of giving David his daughter Merab. It could be because David, as he did later regarding the dowry for Michal, indicated that he was unable to provide a suitable dowry, Exodus 22:16-17. Merab was given to Adriel instead of to David.
When Saul learned that his other daughter, Michal loved David, this only added fuel to the fire, his hatred of David just grew stronger. Interestingly, Saul didn’t ask for a dowry from David for his marriage to Michal.
The more Saul tried to get rid of David, the more successful David became. It’s clear that the Lord was with David and Saul knew it, Saul became increasingly afraid of David and hated him all the more because he probably knew by this time that David was to become his successor. Saul’s reign as king of Israel is coming to end and he knows that God is behind it.