1 Samuel 18



Saul’s Jealousy of David (18:1–30)

1–4 A deep brotherly love developed between David and Jonathan, Saul’s eldest son. They were kindred spirits; they each trusted God and served Him bravely. Jonathan even made a covenant with David (verse 3); this was probably a covenant of mutual friendship, in which each young man pledged to the other his support and protection. Jonathan went even further: he gave to David his robe and his weapons. In doing this, Jonathan was, in effect, transferring to David his position as heir to the throne. Perhaps Jonathan already knew that David was destined to become king. But regardless of what Jonathan knew at that time, his love for David was genuine and lasting; according to verses 1 and 3, he loved David as himself (see Leviticus 19:18 and comment).

5–9 Meanwhile, Saul was of two minds about David. On the one hand, he needed David to inspire the army and to fight the Philistines; but on the other hand, David’s continued successes were making Saul jealous. Even a harmless victory song praising both Saul and David together made Saul angry 70 (verses 7–8).

10–16 Saul’s underlying jealousy of David was inflamed from time to time by the evil spirit that tormented him (see 1 Samuel 16:14). One day while Saul was prophesying71 (verse 10)—that is, while he was in a trance—he had the impulse to throw his spear at David, who was there playing his harp (see 1 Samuel 16:23). Saul tried twice to kill David with his spear, but failed each time.

Saul feared that David might turn against him. Saul knew that he couldn’t prevail against David, because God was on David’s side. Therefore, Sauldecidedtosend David out to the battlefield in the hope that the Philistines would kill him (see verse 17). But that was a vain hope: in everything that David did he had great success—because the LORD was with him (verse 14).

17–19 Saul next urged David to take his older daughter in marriage. He had earlier promised his daughter to the man who defeated Goliath, but he had not kept that promise. This time Saul was offering his daughter as part of a plan to have David killed. The plan was this: instead of paying a bride-price, David would be asked to “pay” for Saul’s daughter by performing valiant deeds (see Joshua 15:16–17), during the course of which Saul hoped that David would be killed (see verse 25).

But David didn’t want to marry Saul’s older daughter. Either he didn’t care for her or he suspected some kind of trap—or both. Furthermore, he was sure his family couldn’t pay the bride-price. So she was given to another man.

20–22 Meanwhile, Saul’s younger daughter Michal had fallen in love with David; so Saul saw a second chance to carry out his plan: he would offer Michal to David.72 Saul told his servants to try and persuade David to accept the offer (verse 22).

23–27 This time David expressed his concern about the bride-price openly: “I’m only a poor man,” he said (verse 23). Then David was told that the only “bride-price” required would be a hundred Philistine foreskins73 (verse 25). That was something he could provide; indeed, he brought back two hundred (verse 27). In return, he was given Michal’s hand in marriage, and thus became the son-in-law of Israel’s king.

28–30 No matter what scheme Saul devised in order to harm David, God turned it to David’s good. Saul’s son Jonathan loved David; Saul’s daughter Michal loved David; Saul’s subjects, the Israelites, loved David (verse 16). And so Saul became more and more afraid of him, and remained his enemy the rest of his days (verse 29).