After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends.
From that day on Saul kept David with him at the palace and wouldn't let him return home.
And Jonathan made a special vow to be David's friend,
and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander in his army, an appointment that was applauded by the fighting men and officers alike.
But something happened when the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women came out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and they sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.
This was their song: "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!"
This made Saul very angry. "What's this?" he said. "They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they'll be making him their king!"
So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
The very next day, in fact, a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave like a madman. David began to play the harp, as he did whenever this happened. But Saul, who had a spear in his hand,
suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David jumped aside and escaped. This happened another time, too,
for Saul was afraid of him, and he was jealous because the LORD had left him and was now with David.
Finally, Saul banned him from his presence and appointed him commander over only a thousand men, but David faithfully led his troops into battle.
David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the LORD was with him.
When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.
But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.
One day Saul said to David, "I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the LORD's battles." For Saul thought to himself, "I'll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself."
"Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king's son-in-law?" David exclaimed. "My father's family is nothing!"
So when the time came for the wedding, Saul gave Merab in marriage to Adriel, a man from Meholah.
In the meantime, Saul's daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it.
"Here's another chance to see him killed by the Philistines!" Saul said to himself. But to David he said, "I have a way for you to become my son-in-law after all!"
Then Saul told his men to say confidentially to David, "The king really likes you, and so do we. Why don't you accept the king's offer and become his son-in-law?"
When Saul's men said these things to David, he replied, "How can a poor man from a humble family afford the bride price for the daughter of a king?"
When Saul's men reported this back to the king,
he told them, "Tell David that all I want for the bride price is one hundred Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want." But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight.
David was delighted to accept the offer. So before the time limit expired,
he and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines and presented all their foreskins to the king. So Saul gave Michal to David to be his wife.
When the king realized how much the LORD was with David and how much Michal loved him,
he became even more afraid of him, and he remained David's enemy for the rest of his life.
Whenever the Philistine army attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul's officers. So David's name became very famous throughout the land.
Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his close friendship with David,
told him what his father was planning. "Tomorrow morning," he warned him, "you must find a hiding place out in the fields.
I'll ask my father to go out there with me, and I'll talk to him about you. Then I'll tell you everything I can find out."
The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. "Please don't sin against David," Jonathan pleaded. "He's never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could.
Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the LORD brought a great victory to Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!"
So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, "As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be killed."
Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he took David to see Saul, and everything was as it had been before.
War broke out shortly after that, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.
But one day as Saul was sitting at home, the tormenting spirit from the LORD suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp for the king,
Saul hurled his spear at David in an attempt to kill him. But David dodged out of the way and escaped into the night, leaving the spear stuck in the wall.
Then Saul sent troops to watch David's house. They were told to kill David when he came out the next morning. But Michal, David's wife, warned him, "If you don't get away tonight, you will be dead by morning."
So she helped him climb out through a window, and he escaped.
Then she took an idol and put it in his bed, covered it with blankets, and put a cushion of goat's hair at its head.
When the troops came to arrest David, she told them he was sick and couldn't get out of bed.
"Then bring him to me in his bed," Saul ordered, "so I can kill him as he lies there!" And he sent them back to David's house.
But when they came to carry David out, they discovered that it was only an idol in the bed with a cushion of goat's hair at its head.
"Why have you tricked me and let my enemy escape?" Saul demanded of Michal."I had to," Michal replied. "He threatened to kill me if I didn't help him."
So David got away and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth.
When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah,
he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel and the other prophets prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men, and they also began to prophesy.
When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time!
Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah and arrived at the great well in Secu. "Where are Samuel and David?" he demanded."They are at Naioth in Ramah," someone told him.
But on the way to Naioth the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy!
He tore off his clothes and lay on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, "What? Is Saul a prophet, too?"
David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. "What have I done?" he exclaimed. "What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?"
"That's not true!" Jonathan protested. "I'm sure he's not planning any such thing, for he always tells me everything he's going to do, even the little things. I know he wouldn't hide something like this from me. It just isn't so!"
Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, "Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, 'I won't tell Jonathan -- why should I hurt him?' But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD and by your own soul!"
"Tell me what I can do!" Jonathan exclaimed.
David replied, "Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I've always eaten with your father on this occasion, but tomorrow I'll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day.
If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice.
If he says, 'Fine!' then you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, then you will know he was planning to kill me.
Show me this kindness as my sworn friend -- for we made a covenant together before the LORD -- or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don't betray me to him!"
"Never!" Jonathan exclaimed. "You know that if I had the slightest notion my father was planning to kill you, I would tell you at once."
Then David asked, "How will I know whether or not your father is angry?"
"Come out to the field with me," Jonathan replied. And they went out there together.
Then Jonathan told David, "I promise by the LORD, the God of Israel, that by this time tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, I will talk to my father and let you know at once how he feels about you. If he speaks favorably about you, I will let you know.
But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the LORD kill me if I don't warn you so you can escape and live. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father.
And may you treat me with the faithful love of the LORD as long as I live. But if I die,
treat my family with this faithful love, even when the LORD destroys all your enemies."
So Jonathan made a covenant with David, saying, "May the LORD destroy all your enemies!"
And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.
Then Jonathan said, "Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. You will be missed when your place at the table is empty.
The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid before, and wait there by the stone pile.
I will come out and shoot three arrows to the side of the stone pile as though I were shooting at a target.
Then I will send a boy to bring the arrows back. If you hear me tell him, 'They're on this side,' then you will know, as surely as the LORD lives, that all is well, and there is no trouble.
But if I tell him, 'Go farther -- the arrows are still ahead of you,' then it will mean that you must leave immediately, for the LORD is sending you away.
And may the LORD make us keep our promises to each other, for he has witnessed them."
So David hid himself in the field, and when the new moon festival began, the king sat down to eat.
He sat at his usual place against the wall, with Jonathan sitting opposite him and Abner beside him. But David's place was empty.
Saul didn't say anything about it that day, for he said to himself, "Something must have made David ceremonially unclean. Yes, that must be why he's not here."
But when David's place was empty again the next day, Saul asked Jonathan, "Why hasn't the son of Jesse been here for dinner either yesterday or today?"
Jonathan replied, "David earnestly asked me if he could go to Bethlehem.
He wanted to take part in a family sacrifice. His brother demanded that he be there, so I told him he could go. That's why he isn't here."
Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. "You stupid son of a whore!" he swore at him. "Do you think I don't know that you want David to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother?
As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you'll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!"
"But what has he done?" Jonathan demanded. "Why should he be put to death?"
Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David.
Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day, for he was crushed by his father's shameful behavior toward David.
The next morning, as agreed, Jonathan went out into the field and took a young boy with him to gather his arrows.
"Start running," he told the boy, "so you can find the arrows as I shoot them." So the boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him.
When the boy had almost reached the arrow, Jonathan shouted, "The arrow is still ahead of you.
Hurry, hurry, don't wait." So the boy quickly gathered up the arrows and ran back to his master.
He, of course, didn't understand what Jonathan meant; only Jonathan and David knew.
Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to take them back to the city.
As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from where he had been hiding near the stone pile. Then David bowed to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.
At last Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have made a pact in the LORD's name. We have entrusted each other and each other's children into the LORD's hands forever." Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the city.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)