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1 Samuel 18

Saul’s Growing Fear of David

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family.
3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
4 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.
5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
6 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 timbrels and lyres.
7 As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”
9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
10 The next day an evil[a] spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand
11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
12 Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul.
13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns.
14 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.
15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.
17 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!”
18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?”
19 So[b] when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased.
21 “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.”
22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’ ”
23 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.”
24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said,
25 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.
26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed,
27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David,
29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
30 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 known.

1 Samuel 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Jonathan's friendship for David. (1-5) Saul seeks to kill David. (6-11) Saul's fear of David. (12-30)

Verses 1-5 The friendship of David and Jonathan was the effect of Divine grace, which produces in true believers one heart and one soul, and causes them to love each other. This union of souls is from partaking in the Spirit of Christ. Where God unites hearts, carnal matters are too weak to separate them. Those who love Christ as their own souls, will be willing to join themselves to him in an everlasting covenant. It was certainly a great proof of the power of God's grace in David, that he was able to bear all this respect and honour, without being lifted up above measure.

Verses 6-11 David's troubles not only immediately follow his triumphs, but arise from them; such is the vanity of that which seems greatest in this world. It is a sign that the Spirit of God is departed from men, if, like Saul, they are peevish, envious, suspicious, and ill-natured. Compare David, with his harp in his hand, aiming to serve Saul, and Saul, with his javelin in his hand, aiming to slay David; and observe the sweetness and usefulness of God's persecuted people, and the barbarity of their persecutors. But David's safety must be ascribed to God's providence.

Verses 12-30 For a long time David was kept in continual apprehension of falling by the hand of Saul, yet he persevered in meek and respectful behaviour towards his persecutor. How uncommon is such prudence and discretion, especially under insults and provocations! Let us inquire if we imitate this part of the exemplary character before us. Are we behaving wisely in all our ways? Is there no sinful omission, no rashness of spirit, nothing wrong in our conduct? Opposition and perverseness in others, will not excuse wrong tempers in us, but should increase our care, and attention to the duties of our station. Consider Him that endured contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds, ( Hebrews 12:3 ) . If David magnified the honour of being son-in-law to king Saul, how should we magnify the honour of being sons to the King of kings!

Cross References 49

  • 1. 1 Samuel 19:1; 1 Samuel 20:16; 1 Samuel 31:2; 2 Samuel 4:4
  • 2. 2 Samuel 1:26
  • 3. S Genesis 44:30
  • 4. 1Sa 20:8,16,17,42; 1 Samuel 22:8; 1 Samuel 23:18; 1 Samuel 24:21; 2 Samuel 21:7
  • 5. S Genesis 41:42
  • 6. 2 Samuel 18:11
  • 7. ver 30
  • 8. 2 Samuel 5:2
  • 9. S Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 1:20
  • 10. Judges 11:34; Psalms 68:25
  • 11. Exodus 15:21
  • 12. 1 Samuel 21:11; 1 Samuel 29:5; 2 Samuel 18:3
  • 13. S 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:8
  • 14. 1 Samuel 19:1
  • 15. S Judges 9:23; S 1 Samuel 16:14
  • 16. S 1 Samuel 10:5
  • 17. 1 Samuel 16:21; 1 Samuel 19:7
  • 18. S 1 Samuel 17:6
  • 19. ver 25; 1 Samuel 20:7,33
  • 20. 1 Samuel 19:10
  • 21. Psalms 132:1
  • 22. ver 29; ver 15,29
  • 23. 1 Samuel 16:13
  • 24. Joshua 1:5; 1 Samuel 17:37; 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Chronicles 22:11; 1 Samuel 28:15
  • 25. S Judges 16:20
  • 26. ver 16; Numbers 27:17
  • 27. 2 Samuel 5:2
  • 28. S Genesis 39:3
  • 29. S Genesis 39:2; S Numbers 14:43; 2 Samuel 7:9; Genesis 39:2,23; Joshua 6:27; 1 Samuel 16:18
  • 30. 2 Samuel 5:2; ver 5
  • 31. 1 Samuel 17:25
  • 32. S Genesis 29:26
  • 33. S Numbers 21:14; 1 Samuel 25:28
  • 34. ver 25; 1 Samuel 20:33
  • 35. S Exodus 3:11; S 1 Samuel 9:21; 2 Samuel 7:18
  • 36. ver 23
  • 37. 2 Samuel 21:8
  • 38. S Judges 7:22
  • 39. ver 28; S Genesis 29:26
  • 40. ver 29
  • 41. S Exodus 10:7; S Deuteronomy 7:16; ver 17,26
  • 42. ver 18
  • 43. S Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:17; 1 Samuel 14:24
  • 44. Psalms 8:2; Psalms 44:16; Jeremiah 20:10
  • 45. S ver 11,S 17; ver 17
  • 46. ver 13; 2 Samuel 3:14; 2 Samuel 6:16
  • 47. S ver 20
  • 48. ver 12
  • 49. ver 5; 2 Samuel 11:1

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of the respect shown to David by Saul and Jonathan, by the servants of Saul, and all the people, and of what was said in his praise in the songs of the women, 1Sa 18:1-7; which latter gave Saul a great offence, and upon which he envied him, and eyed him, and indeed sought his life, and removed him from him; and yet still he continued the darling of the people, behaving wisely among them, which greatly embarrassed Saul, that be knew not what to do, 1Sa 18:8-16; he proposed his eldest daughter to him in marriage, which he had a claim to by killing the Philistine, and then he cheated him by giving her to another, 1Sa 18:17-19; and then he offered his youngest daughter to him, on condition that he would bring him an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, execution of which he thought his life would be exposed to danger, which yet he performed, 1Sa 18:20-27; and having the affection of his wife, and the good esteem of the servants of Saul, Saul was more afraid of him, and became his enemy, 1Sa 18:28-30.

1 Samuel 18 Commentaries

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